Friday, October 28, 2016

6 Dirty Lies About Success Students Are Told At School

The education system in America has been obsolete for many decades.  Because states have not been able to stop schooling, literally just close all school doors for as long as it takes to deconstruct our current system, and create a new one, the system simply gets makeovers every few years.  The sensible thing to do when something isn't working is to tweak, modify, and relaunch.  At least 50 years worth of this strategy has already taken place in schools.

The only business in America where the customer keeps coming back despite the product or service being mostly average are schools!  Like any business, exceptional service (teaching) is not the norm.  But unlike the business world, average service is protected in schools.  Collective bargaining, enough said.  The product has also been in question for a long time.  Students spanning several generations who don't fit the mold have been hurt by school indoctrination.

I'm in no way blaming educators.  Education hasn't even been addressed yet by any of the two nominees for the Presidency.  Three debates, no talk of school improvement.  What does this say about the priorities in this country?  It's beyond sad.  Similarly, the customer has changed quite some over the years.  Mostly white teachers are now educating a primarily minority student body.  The challenges are immense.

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What can be done by educators to make the current customer more comfortable with the service and product?  We can stop lying to them!  Below are the lies teacher and educators must stop telling students now:

1.  You will use this one day.

Truth: I have no idea if this will be useful in the future.  I just want you to comply.

2.  Get good grades so you can...(insert your fantasy).

Truth: Your efforts stink so I'm trying to scare you about your future to motivate you to work harder.

3.  College is the key to success.

Truth: Going to college is the only future pathway we know how to prepare you for.  But only if you buy in.

4.  Doing your homework means you're being responsible.

Truth: Not doing your homework means you're lazy and we can't understand why you won't simply do it.

5.  Coming to school daily will improve your chances of passing classes.

Truth: We can't have you reject the only way we make money.  We will threaten you and your family until you return. 

6.  Going to college will help you get a good job one day.

Truth: We have no idea any more if going to college will help you get a good job.  But this is what we think you need to hear to stay compliant and sold on school.

Educators would do better if they agreed with their students more often.  Use words like, "You may be right," or "Perhaps," to stop students in their tracks.  I put it back on my students whenever they expose a lie out loud: "I'm glad you have thought critically about your education.  Now what are you going to do with this knowledge?"  The usual response, "I don't know."  I give them one suggestion: "You're stuck in school until you graduate from H.S., read 100 books on whatever it is you love to do the most from now until then."

Another thing educators can do is acknowledge that success is no longer guaranteed from a college education.  In fact, the rapid pace of technological innovation is making traditional school curriculum become obsolete at a quicker clip.  Financial literacy education is simply putting a bandage on a gaping wound.  It is not enough.  Entrepreneurship and business class offerings have to be exponential.  We are in dire need of the entrepreneurial teacher.

Lastly, we have to redefine what success looks like.  The image of success students leave high school with is one of wearing another cap and gown four to five years in the future.  Is this still what success looks like?  When I look at college graduates these days I see a bunch of indebted people, and very few of any graduating class achieve the four types of success: great health, happiness, wealth, and a loving family.

Thanks for reading.  
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