Friday, July 30, 2010

I can be a blockhead sometimes!

My philosophy is that modern educational systems are flawed.  Back in the "good ol' days", not everyone went to college.  Someone who had a college education was considered quite special.  In my opinion, these days, college, even public ones, are less about education and more about profit.  Consider this quote from Aristotle - "All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth." So what do we do, we standardize tests so that we can make sure that our children can pass the same Jeopardy challenges, but what does that really get them?  How far in your career has trivia taken you?  Probably not far.  But as Stobaeus says: "What use is knowledge if there is no understanding?" Honestly not much.  Where we fail our children most often is not teaching them how to use the knowledge at their fingertips. 

So, why the quotes?  I hope for you to understand that education has been as a main tennet of philosophy for ages, yet we never seem to get it right.  Many proponents of college education will say that the youth of the nation require it to become successful as adults.  The problem that I see is that the colleges don't share that same goal.  Many colleges survive off of their Liberal Arts programs since those programs have the bulk of the students and often require the fewest resources to maintain them.  I for one became indebted to this nation because of these programs.  The problem with these colleges is that we put our children into a huge financial crisis without providing them a means of paying it off.  Most students coming out of a Liberal Arts program will make just above minimum wage when they finish college.  Those who make more were probably already working while going to school and the work experience is what gives them the edge.

On the other hand, we have the trade schools.  These are intensive programs intended on giving students a competitive edge when they complete the program.  The cost of a four year degree can be compressed into 18 months of education.  To do so makes sure that you will likely have knowledge of current technology and techniques and may even give you mentorship of someone who has worked in that particular industry.  However, since these trade schools are built on single subject matters, the students do not get training in those aspects that make them well rounded citizens.

So, what does all this have to do with the title of this blog?  I'm getting to that.

I'm a big proponent of apprenticeships.  I believe that we would become a more productive society if the education system was established to make an intelligent and thinking public.  It should provide the building blocks for us to be able to make informed decisions and the knowledge base to back that up instead of filling it with trivia.  Then, with our children trained to learn and with the knowledge of basic principles such as reading and how to manipulate numbers, they could learn trades through apprentice programs.  Where this will never happen in a consumer driven society since it doesn't take as much training to run a cash register.  The lack of apprentice programs is the birthplace of trade schools. 

So, here's where I was a blockhead.  Last night, as I was leaving work, I was walking through the casino to get to the parking garage.  A young girl (maybe 15 or 16) stopped me and asked what I did on the show.  So, I ended up spending the next 15-20 minutes talking to her, her mom, and her aunt about what it is that I do.  I spent this much time with them because I found out early on in the conversation that she was a student working backstage in theater.  She was excited to learn about what it is that we do as professional stagehands and how it differs from that as a student.  Where I feel that I went wrong is that, even though I didn't carpool and had the time to offer, I didn't bring them backstage to show them around.  Sure, I thought of that after I had left them and was getting in my car.  And when I told my wife the story and some of my co-workers, the first question from them was "did you take them backstage?"  NO, I DIDN'T.  I'M A BLOCKHEAD, THAT'S WHY.  I had the opportunity to help a student be inspired by what is possible in her future.  I could have shown her that if she has a passion, she can do amazing things.  I could have given her a glimpse into the future. 

So, I hope that in the future, I will take every opportunity to help inspire those who really want to learn.