Day 9: Like, Totally, Dude

Considering the facts, this question should be a no-brainer for The M3 Readers, although mayhap not for the reasons one might suspect.

left palmThe first time I had my palm read, the lady told me I would have many children. She was right. She also told me I would be a teacher. I laughed, openly, unabashedly. She told me that was rude. Truth be told? She was right.

In fact, she was already right. At that stage of the game, I was the eggheaded leader of a pack of misfits who would call me in the middle of the night to ask me the most inane questions to settle arguments.

The following decade I was tutoring students from middle school to college juniors in mathematics from algebra to calculus. By the turn of the century, I was doing this in between orchestrating lessons for my own progeny and adventures to mask said lessons in fun.

The next decade brought school to my home, where it is in session seven days a week. But it is not just the ones in my immediate sphere who need education. Throughout it all I have counseled those both my junior and senior in matters from finance to child-rearing to corporate espionage to marriage, and the hundreds of stops in between them.

Book Learnin’

Most of what people learn does not come from a book, despite the age old tradition of the school marm and textbooks. Learning in the years of primary, secondary and university schools are merely refinement to real education. Every single piece of information memorized or processed will never be retained without the proper foundation.

Do not misunderstand. I wholeheartedly believe everyone should be exposed to what is in books. (How hypocritical would it be for me to write non-fiction otherwise?) Without a dissertation, let me elucidate.

Problem Solving 101

So, Daddy taped her in the bed...

So, Daddy taped her in the bed…

Critical thinking and secondary problem solving are the cogs which make our world a survivable place. Information is merely the grease between them.

Critical thinking is being able to look at (read about, listen to) a situation and discern whether an improvement or alternate application of parts in play can be feasibly applied to produce a better output.

Secondary problem solving is the ability to determine the reasonable consequences to said improvement prior to implementation and adjusting the change to minimize negative output. For example…

Little V was 2’6″ tall. What she wanted was on a shelf 6′ above the floor in her closet. Her chairs and table were of insufficient height to reach the shelf.

Looking about her room, she discerned the bed was of sufficient length to reach the shelf. The slats resembled the ladder on the slide at the park. She also knew the bed would not go into the closet merely by pushing it. She applied critical thinking before secondary problem solving.

  • Remove mattress from toddler bed.
  • Stand bed on headboard with slats closer to shelf.
  • Slide bed on headboard into closet.
  • Push bed to steady on wall beneath shelf.
  • Climb slats.
  • Retrieve box.
  • Close closet door.

The last bit shows forethought. She knew she would need to replace the box at some juncture and would need her device again. She had the secondary problem solving skills to calculate the risk I would not be pleased with her corporate endeavor.

On the contrary, rather than admonish her for the theft of the box, I praised her ingenuity. After the appropriate evidence gathering and future risk mitigation, I asked her to simply ask for the box in the future because I was plenty tall enough to reach it.

Do Not Bleat in Line.

Education is important. Content of education is more important. Form of education is less important.

sheepThe bastardization of nationalized education has crippled it to be nothing more than a mill from which sheep are churned with no more skills than farm animals headed to slaughter. Students with creative skill are branded as dysfunctional and disruptive, despite their black wool being just as valuable as their grey counterparts.

Uniformity is the diet on which they are fattened regardless of nutritional need. The skills of blending in and not speaking unless called upon are valued with far more regard than being able to build a better mousetrap. After donning cap and gown for the 13th time, they are set free of the confines of the paddock and cast before the wolves of the marketplace.

The sufficiently fattened are led with their sleek, well-kempt wool to university where they are additionally groomed to become the wolves they always were beneath the skin or patsies on whom malfeasance will be blamed at the appropriate hour.

Realism. Deal with it.

I have been often accused of being cynical when it comes to education. I have had more than my fair share of it, not because someone freely gave. As part of the yuppie age, I was schooled in a posh preparatory school which was nothing more than an expensive sheep farm. My black wool glistened as the scholarships poured in beginning my sophomore year.

clock amberBy midterm my junior year, I had completed my high school education. I left for college, only to discover more shepherds and nothing I could not learn on my own in far less time without the necessity of filling in one single bubble. I finished my first degree within 18 months of getting out of prep school.

Over the next ten years, I lost interest in my original career path as tax laws changed, and everyone (employers and clients) favored breaking them rather than abiding them. I turned to a different avenue of the law. In the next seven years I went to enough classes to make me the most valued student at my school. My adviser learned more from me than I did her, her words.

Circumstances beyond my control led me to the retail world and more grooming outside the confines of a classroom. In less than three years, I was upwardly mobile to the destination of my choice. What began as a job hardly above minimum wage was now a career with a large yearly bonus, cost of living allowances, performance increases, expense account, retirement and more than sufficient salary.

In the end, with two degrees and a broad range of experience, I see the shortcomings of education as applied to my children. Schools fail through an insidious web of pretty graphs which belie the information they are meant to convey and lip service laws which institutionalize mediocrity and gut meritocracy.

And yet…

The fact remains: Education is important. Without it, we are doomed to repeat the history from which we have not learned.

How do you feel about standard classroom education? What lesson from your childhood did you learn in a non-classroom environment which you carry with you everywhere?

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