What’s Important to Pass On – Part 1 – Education

AC Gilbert House - Discovery Village

AC Gilbert House – Discovery Village

What legacy are we leaving our children and grand children? Is it through education & life competency?

  • What is the goal of education for your children?
    What should the ultimate desire or outcome be for any group to advance their younger generation?
  • What are the essential skills and proficiency we desire for the next generation?
  • What techniques / strategies do we employ to achieve proficiency?
  • How do we assess quality of the education we are passing on to the next generation?

There are as many answers to these and other related questions as there are people. We routinely turn our children over to the experts in the field of education to solve these basic questions and hope their educational experience will be adequate. What do we have as evidence?

You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment. — Alvin Toffler

There’s a range of expectations from receiving an education, specifically that which extends beyond the first 12 years. Some of these expectations are by the alumni as well as employer. The graduate expects there will be tangible economic reward as well as choices if they achieve post high school diploma(s). The employer expects the prospects for position will be better qualified to fulfill their assignments. We systematically post requirements for job positions with a given set of expectations. Sometimes there are unknown or inadequately communicated requirements by employers which are unmet by those earning advance degrees. It’s as if there’s a disconnect between what is required, what is known and that which is unexpressed or inadequately expressed. This gap exists for many reasons but of those, perhaps the object of our educational ‘mission statement’ needs to be examined and addressed better by both employer and educator.

Many of us are aware that technology has changed, but so has our society and it’s values. One can examine the values of a culture by what it elevates with the greatest recognition and accolades. If length of time indicates our priorities, how are we using this time? If time is money, perhaps this suggests why the greatest amount of wealth often is spent on government, leisure, entertainment, sports and sexual pursuit.

It has become increasingly difficult for many adults to focus on and work toward a better brighter future. Why is that? Is it because we spend much of our personal free time on pursuits that undermine this process?

Alvin Toffler has written several books about anticipating and preparing for the future. He doesn’t make predictions, however he writes about change. Simultaneous decisions by millions of humans lead us to outcomes based on amalgamation of choices.

“Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock.” — Alvin Toffler

What I believe is important for our future, is to concentrate more on the mission of educating young minds than military odyssey. I’m a realist and have several years of military experience. I know that a well equipped and trained military is a necessity, but I also believe firmly in the need to equip and train young minds. I also believe flexibility is essential. We find ourselves surrounded by a sea of change. Not only do our economic lives depend on this flexibility, I believe social order requires it as well. When we find ourselves at cross purposes, it’s often due to this inflexibility or willingness to reach out and understand each other. Education provides a spring-board toward achieving cooperation if it models such an ideal. So to say, we want people to think out of the box, if so do our educational options permit this diversity? I’m not speaking about ethnic or societal diversity, rather I’m referring to permitting choices for young people to learn and find their way. At no time do I believe we need to sacrifice quality because we provide flexibility over conformity.

There are people who we identify as leaders or functionally capable in coping with humanity. If we look at some of their educational background, we often find they attended a private school and some are not college graduates. It’s certainly possible to succeed without replicating their path. It does suggest options and flexibility in how we provide education doesn’t necessarily limit our destination. My experience with raising and educating children while observing the success of others, informs me there are wonderful and fulfilling outcomes through increased flexibility in how we educate.

I have also been an educator for a post high school state-run technical program. I found it necessary to enhance the math and physics background of the adult student in order for us to go forward. We found it necessary to provide an 11 week mathematics course prior to me taking over as lead in teaching adults about basic electronics and computers. My goals were to provide a basic foundation for each person to continue to learn and grow rather than simply rote routines for building, troubleshooting or programming computers. When the basics of physics and math are understood, they are better able to handle changes in technology. Certainly much has changed in technology from the time I taught these subjects, but the foundational principles by which this technology evolved remains constant.

Modern educational theory is based on these concepts; sequential development of individual mental processes, recognize, recall, analyze, reflect, apply, create, understand, and evaluate. Students learn as they encounter, identify and internalize the procedures, organization, and structures in social contexts on their own. A learner may require assistance to integrate prior knowledge with new knowledge. This is the role of the teacher in aggregate.

The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn. — Alvin Toffler