By Calvin Mackie, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Calvin Mackie is an author, speaker, former engineering professor and technology entrepreneur. He graduated from high school with low SAT scores that required him to take special remedial classes before he was admitted to Morehouse College. He has since earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, and inspired thousands of students and educators across the country.
As a mechanical engineer with a Ph.D., a motivational STEM speaker and a former college professor, you’d probably be surprised to hear that I think education is useless.
In America, the education system has moved away from developing citizens to serve their fellow man to the unadulterated pursuit of standardized success at any cost. Mixed in with a sea of social change and celebrity obsession, somehow we’ve all lost sight of the goal of education: creating passionate students who are employable, teachable and adaptable in a dynamic world. Students are turned off for a number of reasons right now.
To get back on track, we must recognize that education is useless if students aren’t thirsty for it!
I’ll always remember this lesson that my grandma and grandpa taught me when I was a young kid. I was trying to force a pig to eat the slop I had prepared for him, when my uneducated but wise grandmother stated the truism, “Baby, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink!”
Much like the pig, today’s students don’t want the education we have prepared. They either aren’t hungry or they’ve gotten their fill from somewhere else. In response to my grandma, my grandpa yelled back, “Yeah, you can’t make him drink, but you sure can get him thirsty!”
We can bring students their education and put it on a silver platter right in front of them, but if they don’t want it, they’re not going to eat it. How can we make our students crave it? How can we get them motivated and passionate about learning again? The key is to get back to basics and remember what education is really about.
The primary purpose of education isn’t to teach students how to make money but to provide them with the tools and mechanisms so that they can be FREE. Free to create, free to produce and free to do the things God has ordained and created them to do. As W.E.B. Du Bois stated, “The purpose of education is not to make men and women into doctors, lawyers, and engineers; the purpose of education is to make doctors, lawyers, and engineers into men and women.”
Education affords people the ability to develop and expand their personal and collective capacities. It not only gives them skills, it helps increase their sense of “somebodiness” and purpose. Only when we bring purpose and service back to education, coupled with utility and training, will we win back the hearts and souls of America’s students.
Now, it’s not going to be that easy. “The Silent Epidemic,” a 2006 study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that annually, nearly one-third of all public high school students fail to graduate with their class. Nearly one-half of all blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are flunking out too. In simple terms, the present-day education system is failing the very people it’s supposed to serve: the students.
One of the biggest issues is that our children are growing up in a culture where their passions are advertised and sold to them - there’s no room for them to grow on their own terms. They are more motivated to become the next American Idol, contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” or hip-hop mogul than to become leaders of the free world or create the next Internet. What else can explain the fact that President Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian have the same number of Twitter followers?
What we need to understand is that students have motivation right now, they are just motivated by the wrong things, superficial things that do not require nor promote the education needed to succeed in the 21st century and only make them “feel good.” And so education is rendered useless. As teachers, parents, motivators and concerned citizens, we must shift our strategy to combat this problem and make our students thirsty!
Rather than starting with lesson plans that attempt to go right to the brain, teachers need to grab student’s attention and win their hearts first.
Show them the amazing lifestyle they can earn by becoming a contributing member of the knowledge economy. Put new role models in front of them - people they should look up to, follow on Twitter and “like” on Facebook.
Help them develop the ability to achieve whatever career they want, whether that is as a doctor, lawyer, engineer or teacher. Remind them every day that when you, “put something in your head, no one can take that from you.”
In the end, it’s up to us to reignite and resuscitate America’s students. Service and self-agency are the essence of motivation in education. When they return, so will our students.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Calvin Mackie.
I agree completely ... but it's very difficult to provide that thirst in college if the student has grown up fantasizing about Dancing with the Stars ...
To give a child the thirst to learn is really the parent's job. Our job is to grow that hunger and feed them the very best that's available...
you heard it here first folks. An "author, speaker, former engineering professor and technology entrepreneur" is here to tell you that HE didn't need education to become an author. Education is useless. HE didn't need an education to become an engineering professor. Education is useless. And he certainly didn't need education to understand technology OR the accounting, marketing, and inventory skills needed to be an entrepreneur. HE did it by sheer determination, not through education. Education is useless. Completely and absolutely useless.
I think you're confusing the students with the system. No, you're NOT going to be a basketball player or a rap star- learn to read. When there's no content in that character, there is little a teacher can do.
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Some lower income African American students seem to end up feeling that school does not belong to them, and I think it's because many teachers don't know that education is something that African Americans have always shaped and owned. I want my fellow teachers to appreciate the fact that decades before school integration African American communities were building schoolhouses, boarding teachers in their homes, and quietly helping the brightest students towards college in any way that they could (see http://www.underthekudzu.org). If education were just about imparting information, we could give each student a laptop and call it a day. However, education is also about building relationships that help students see themselves as they could be.
I love this post thank you for the information.
Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, yet he is not an engineer What happened ?
All the engineering jobs view you SAT scores ?
He became a professor instead. Why so bitter?
those who cannot DO, teach.
I worked for twenty years in a technical field. After that I taught the concepts to others. The 'those that can't do, teach" philosophy is usually used by those that can't do either. If you have no experience, don't judge.
Mara you are the problem with our country
And those who cant teach post bitter statements on CNN
Really Mara? I would restate that to say, "Those who CARE, teach".
The usefullness of education will be greatly increassed if we start offering free higher education based on college entrance exams, like in the rest of the world.
Your account is partially correct. However, the purpose of public education was to create an educated citizenry, because we have a participatory government. We required informed and educated citizens in order to cast informed votes. It was never to create educated workers for Bill Gates and Broad. However, now, the purpose is to funnel billions of dollars to private consultants who create tests. Bill Gates and his crew have bought the rights to determine where public education will go. That directing is to privatize public education. As long as he and his group determine what is on the tests, he will be able to determine the conversation, and that conversation says "public school teachers and their unions are bad and takeover is necessary." Gates and his buddies have leaned on politicians,in order to influence their decisions, bought the rights to all the major education journals so that he can claim legitimacy, and now is able to determine the direction of the conversation over how education will be delivered. He has absolutely no research to back his push. He forces these journals to publish his message. But, push he does and America will lose its control over its public education and never get it back. In order to take it back, American citizens will be facing lobbyists with the same kind of funding that the oil companies have. Gates and his buddies at Pearson (testing company that will not willingly give up its rights to government contracts) will not admit defeat.
So, the game plan is- Give massive amounts of money to education journals so they will feel obligated to publish your message. Give massive amounts of money to both democrats and republicans so they will be beholden to you. And since you have educational journal validating your opinion, you must be correct. Get the contracts to test millions of children, and make sure that you keep upping the bar to prove public education isn't working. And then you make the move to take over. First you do it a little at a time. Create Charter schools, but make sure that the media does not report the fact that they are failing at the same or greater rate than public schools. And make sure the media does not give as much attention to the fact that these schools discriminate against the handicapped, children from drug and gang homes and homeless. The very populations that are a challenge and drain of resources for public schools.
Take back the direction of public education. Tell Bill Gates and his group to go away.
Way too much blame is placed on the schools and teachers rather than on the parents. I can assure that my young daughter will value and excel in education no matter what or how the teacher teaches it because I will inspire her to do so. Most learning is done at home not in the classroom. If you let your child come home from school and sit down in front of the TV or Xbox rather than reading, doing math and playing you are paralyzing their brain and YOU are to blame, not the education system.
That assumes that you do not have a full-time job and are home when your children get out of school at 2:00 every day and can supervise their every move.... Those days are over my friend.
I disagree, AJ. Both of my parents worked full time. After school, I was looked after by siblings or had to stay with babysitters. Both of my parents also waited until their children were fairly grown (I was the youngest) to go to college. Growing up while they were both working hard and studying hard was extremely inspiring; on days when scheduling was just too much, I went to classes with them. I'll never forget being 8 and sitting in my mother's Spanish class while she was in school for her counseling degree. They led and inspired by example, by being hard working in their jobs and in their studies. You don't have to hover over your kids to instill a love of learning into them; you have to love learning yourself and let them see how you love it. They gave us an example and set us loose. None of us were ever pressured to go into any field, to go to college, to do anything. 30 years later, one of us is a successful engineer and one is a professor, not because we were made to do it, but because we had seen that hard work doesn't make you miserable if you love what you're doing and because we were left free to act. I thought this article was fabulous because it echoed the ideals I grew up with, so those of a different experience are of course welcome to disagree, but I just want to put it out there that being a very busy parent doesn't automatically make you a poor parent.
Well done and above all, well stated. Dr. Mackie continue to be the voice of reason and intelligence. As a fellow laborer and kindred spirit in the same vineyard, I continue to thank you for being the pace setter for those of us who are committed to coming behind you and coming with you. See you at the top great man.
"To get back on track, we must recognize that education is useless if students aren’t thirsty for it!"
I think the most students are thirsty, but they are not aware of being thirsty for knowledge, being this mispresented to them, or obscured by ephemeral pursuits.
I always thought meritocracies where great. The smart ones get advanced education, the dumb ones get labour training everyone gets an education they can use.
Students are bombarded with every kind of tech gadget there is, or you could imagine. The one place they don't get a "tech fix" is at school. Get with the times. Motivation starts at home too. All good point Calvin. Good post you have there.
So, I was on an airplane the other day and I got into this argument (debate? it wasn't hostile) with this secondary education teacher who felt that I asked "why" when I should just accept things as fact. She then said that secondary students needed to be drawn in and harnessed, and asked how old I was. I'm in my mid twenties, I'm a PhD engineer, and I already got job offers that offer me more money than she makes. (I didn't tell her that last part.)She was obviously surprised her because I look like I'm 12.
I then realized that the problem with modern education is that it focuses way too hard on harnessing kids. I'm not saying all teachers are like this lady but this lady represents what I really dislike about education, and what i feel is essentially useless about it. Kids need to learn certain facts, yes, but there's ALWAYS time for why, for going off track and taking detours on wikipedia, for asking strangers about their professions and whether they've ever seen this or that and what was it like? That's curiosity!
Also I think as a general rule, every kid that asks "will doing this improve my grade?" should be punched in the face.
Unfortunately, there is not always time in public education for "why." Have you ever heard of pacing guides, benchmark tests, and scripted programs? Pacing guides tell teachers what page they will be on, benchmark tests are given on a day the pacing guide specifies, and scripted lessons dictate the speed in which the teacher must teach. The pacing guides always have way more curriculum than can be covered in the allotted time and teacher evaluations are based on this pace. So, there SHOULD always be time for "why," but there isn't. And this high school teacher must give the company line or not be considered a team player and therefore, a bad teacher.
Logic. This article has captured some of it. He is not wrong, the education system has been insufficient in preparing and engaging the students of this country for almost 2 decades. If our education system was better and more engaged. China and other country's would not be an issue.
I appreciate the article and many of the comments that I read. This topic has good momentum. I've seen a common theme to many professional post school training that is offered that could improve every single person if they taught them properly early on. Classes such as getting along with others, interpersonal communication, finances... or classes you find in community centers. Make education real and not memorization of what's an adverb or a pronoun for 13 years.
Check out Waldorf Education!
Wow, Calvin Mackie, another motivational speaker who knows all the answers. Just throw some of Grandmama's wisdom and a quote from Dr. Du Bois, and viola –you are following your heroes on Twitter, liking them on MyFace, and motivated to succeed in high school. Motivation is all it takes. Pick you your sorry Dancing-with-the-Stars-butt up off the couch and get rich beyond your wildest dreams.
Stop yelling "fire" in the movie house, Calvin. You really are just stirring up anger against an already unappreciated, but vitally necessary profession. And, btw, sorry about your SAT...now stop blaming schools, and get motivating.
Education in our opinion is useless due to the fact that mostly stuff we study is not applied in the real world. There's many people who had succeeded in life without education Therefore they shouldn't enforce people or kids to go to school if they don't want to.
But... you could do so much more with education!
I'm sensing that you view education as listening to someone who thinks he/she is better than you tell you what you need to know. I feel, on the other hand, is that education is reading the book you want to read, doing the things you want to do (and getting better at it), and having none of that involve weed, reality TV, and too much alcohol (though beer brewing is educational).
But you're right. We can't force education onto people... though it would be easier to live in a society where people are educated.
It's difficult for me to criticize this education system when it's worlds better than the one I came from. Isn't this part of the whole survival of the fittest model? There are and will be thirsty students and not-so thirsty students. Not blaming the education system, teachers and TV for one's lack of motivation is part of the obstacle of becoming men and women.
Are you saying that we should gear our education toward quenching the thirst of thirsty students rather than constantly teaching to the bottom of the class? because if so I TOTALLY agree.
As a music education intern (future teacher) at a middle school, I see how frustrated teachers are with all the standards they must meet so their students can pass tests. They have to worry about the product instead of the process, about scores rather than character, about what politicians think students should learn instead of what teachers (the people actually in contact with the kids) should learn.
Students are trained to just regurgitate information, then forget it when they don't need it anymore. Where are the long term values? The life lessons? Those can be learned through academics, but maybe not by shoved down their throats with so much pressure.
Although I disagree with the statement all young people aren't motivated, I do agree that students need to be taught how to be motivated. Kids aren't naturally born with the thirst for knowledge-parents, teachers, and those in charge of our education system need to foster positive environments, be supportive, and more understanding of how kids learn. Students aren't numbers-they are people with different interests, backgrounds, and personalities.
So maybe if we focused more on the process of learning, then students would WANT to learn-it'd be enjoyable and help set them up for success. Part of the learning process is making mistakes. You know, discovering two thousand ways to NOT make a light bulb? And even from my own experiences in the classroom so far, I've realized that the majority of my students are afraid to try singing because they're afraid of making mistakes. This is how kids crack. They feel so much pressure to perfect, and that's not what life is about.
People say you go to school, then you get a job, then you die. Is that what we want students to have? There's more to life than high scores and employment!
Liza, Please maintain you very positive outlook. It is very refreshing. You will be a success as will your students. Keep going strongly.
My personal opinion is: get rid of no child allowed ahead and its child, race to the bottom. Learning, not simply formal education, requires interest, pride in what you do, and a will to do something. Forcing everyone into a standardized exam box harnesses many of the smartest students to an ox cart instead of helping them soar.
Start paying teachers $150,000 – 200,000 a year and you will get the best people to teach our kids.
Dear ' Yo ', A Voice of People article in my local newspaper pointed out that teachers should not be lumped together with police and firefighters because they do not get overtime pay. She did not mention that they work 9 months, have vacation, sick and ' personal ' days, but none the less... her point is made not to lump the three public unions together. After aLL there should be a good reward for all the education above and beyond a high school diploma. Keep up your good works. Thank you.
Teachers work ten months, not nine. We do not get 'paid' vacation; we are not paid for winter/summer breaks, etc. We have time off, for sure, but it's unpaid. As for sick and personal days, yes...we get sick time (as we should!) as well as TWO, count 'em, TWO personal days for a school year. Oh, and by the way, the 'personal' days? If we take them, they come out of our sick time.
All that said, I love my job and I love my students, and I am NOT complaining. Just correcting your misconceptions.
Education is not useless. Education system in USA is bad. And parenting! My child wants to be scientist one day, not American idol. She doesn't even know about American idol or other shallow staff....We spend time with our kids, unlike many parents who are happy to be replaced by TV. And about homeschooling – ridiculous!!! Parents can never replace a good teacher!!! But both parents and teachers should motivate children.
Two points to you! Education in the US IS very, very Bad. Parenting in the US is an almost entirely forgotten art.
Ana, You are absolutely correct. When you find that very special teacher we all want them to stay the same forever.... that , of course, is not reality. For some time they will improve, improve, improve. But, they do get burned out. It's just the way life is, but, working with them as you suggest can help them to the superlative job they provide. Let them teach. They are professionals. Treat them accordingly. Thank you.
See, when i think about my most inspirational mentors in the K-12 years, I mostly think of my parents. I don't think it's the teacher's fault, but sparking curiosity in children requires significant 1-1 time, and teachers these days always act like they're teaching to a room of 40. The only way a kid can get anything out of that is if he/she wants it. And I love how you ban American Idol. Reality TV makes my brain melt.
Kids don't education.
KIDS NEED TRAINING THAT LEADS TO AN ACTUAL JOB. WHAT IS TAUGHT IN COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITIES AND WHAT IS TESTED HAS LITTLE OR NOTHING TO DO WITH REAL JOBS.
Fine, go to a trade school and learn how the shift key works.
You are missing the point entirely. Training for a job only suits a person to do that one job, or maybe something closely related. This is of no use when changes in the economy force changes in the workforce and skills are rendered obsolete. Educating a person to really think enables them to be adaptive and resourceful in such a way as to give them the tools to beat a broad array of challenges. The author calls for real education and not just for training because just teaching someone to chase a quick buck is useless to the person and to society.
If you want to motivate kids to be educated... take them to any number of businesses that hire illegal immigrants or any number of run down "hoods"... scare them straight... and take their a$$es back to school. End of story.
Education is mostly useless in a literal sense, save for a few degrees in fields such as healthcare, engineering, technology, and accounting. But as more people flood into those fields, there will be an oversupply in those professions as well. I was at an information session for a management consulting firm last week and the room was filled with engineers.
But it seems like numbers people will always have it easier in our society, a society obsessed with "how": "How do we make a faster car?"; "How do we increase profit?" Questions of purpose, meaning, and collective goals are lost among these technical considerations, while our civilization crumbles around us. A civilization coalesces around a common culture: ideas, art, literature. When we cease to share common values, things fall apart. Word people know this. But does this make our liberal education valuable: the ability to witness, with full cognizance, the debasement of culture and humanity while you ask the fat, stupid patrons lining up for their toxic meals, "Do you want fries with that?"
The starving artist is hardly a new concept. You need rich entrepreneurs to sponsor the artists. The GOP has eviscerated public funding for the arts, so all that is left is the private sector. Alas.
Wouldn't the logical conclusion then be to get everyone to study the "how" AND the "why"? The idea of an "ethical engineer/accountant" is actually gaining ground these days. As it were, these "how" professions are far from flooded.
A nice thought but ultimately, the world doesn't work that way. Employers want a degree in the exact field they are in, right out of college or they won't even look at the resume. By our current model, you should know what you want to be from kindergarten and strive towards that at all cost.
I have three kids, all sixteen (yes, triplets), all going to the same high school. My daughter is highly motivated and gets great grades. My sons only work if we threaten to take away their phones, refuse to let them see their girlfriends, or apply some other external "motivation."
The difference? My daughter's friends are as motivated as she is. Her boyfriend is highly motivated–they study together by text and phone if they can't get together in person. My sons' "friends" are older kids, losers who are frequently high, usually drop out of school as soon as possible, or treat school as a place to take naps, goof off, and have lunch.
It seems to me that the thing to do would be to get rid of the kids who can't or won't learn. They're bad examples for the younger kids, they waste school resources, and they distract teachers from their real jobs, teaching. Schools shouldn't have to be day-care centres.
I agree with you, just making sure you realize under your new rule your sons would be gotten "rid of".
How dare they eat lunch at school...
The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life—by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past—and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort. ~Ayn Rand
Nice to read that Ayn got something right. This is well known in any well educated society. Problem is we've become focused purely on financial gain. Universities used to be about "learning" and specialization was secondary. Now we may as well call most of them trade schools.
Thanks to the welfare democrats american blacks have learned that they can just kick back and get a govt check...school is just free daycare for these black parents.
Not sure how you connect this to the Democrats. Our educational policy has been set by more years of Republican administration than Democratic, and the No Child Left Behind initiative that most represents what this author dislikes came from the Bush administration. Maybe we should look at education and not knee-jerk party politics.
Hello Troll...you and your comments are FUNNY! Like a clown...you're FUNNY!
Looks like your republican re-indoctrination left you ill prepared to understand reality. All that public schooling went to waste.
Why are you singling out blacks? There are more whites on welfare than blacks, but I bet you wouldn't make the same generalization about them.
I hate all generalizations (yes, that's sarcasm). Not all education in this country is broken. My daughter, a new college graduate of whom I am supremely proud, is successful because she is "thirsty for education". She is the product of a small town public school system and a private liberal arts college. The question is how to give these opportunities to all students. Now we will hear from everyone saying the country is broke and can't afford that. I don't buy that. We are still the richest country in the world. We can certainly afford this, we simply choose not to spend our money this way.
Cosmic – yes, it is all about choices. People say that they can't get an education, can't afford the dentist, can't do this or that. Yet, they are driving around in a late-model car, using their smart phone, heading home to their 2,000+ sf house, and their 180 cable channels. We've lost the ability to delay our wants in order to obtain our needs.
Top 5 Richest Countries in the World
Rank Country GDP Per Capita ($)
1 Qatar 88,222
2 Luxembourg 81,466
3 Singapore 56,694
4 Norway 51,959
5 Brunei 48,333
Cosmic – Great post and you are right, it's all about having a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning. We have started to view education as a means to an end, rather then viewing it as a life-long process where new ideas and theories are constantly being evaluated and explored. I also agree that not all schools are bad. Not all public schools are bad (I spend 2 years at a very highly regarded public high school where 90+% of students went on to graduate and attend college. It was a public school in a wealthy suburb that was well-funded in a community that was considered upper-middle class). If we gave all children the opportunity to attend good, well-funded schools, problems like being unprepared for college level work and passing standardize tests will no longer be an issue and we can afford to do this. I agree that we just don't want to.
It isn't that education is useless, the job market just isn't there anymore for these students.
I agree. I think our society has brainwashed students into jumping throw educational hoops. We've told kids education is the way to making a good living, but that isn't necessarily true right now with baby boomers staying the work place longer, a slow economy, and other factors. When students do graduate from college most have taken out student loans and are therefore starting their careers already in debt, making it harder to take lower-paying jobs. The 2 most successful people I know both dropped out of college and started their own businesses in their 20s. They are self-taught and internally motivated by knowledge, not a diploma.
Johnny: you are totally not getting it! Reread what he wrote please, education is not so one can learn how to make money, but to learn about yourself and how you fit into this complex universe, what you can contribute to the betterment of the human condition...whether it's the Internet or a vaccine.
Where in the first place the America get the idea that School is supposed to be "Fun"? Abfreakingsolutely it isnt always. May be it is 10% fun, 90% pain. It is a necessity to the untrained mind like breaking in a horse who otherwise will be of no use but eating the cow's grass.
THANK YOU! Treat children like children, adults behave like adults (It may be too late – we have too many "Old fools" who thinks the earth is flat and the Sun goes around the Earth). Oh and... "Every asnwer is correct", "Everybody gets an achievement award" is just retarded. You keep the kids in this fantacy world of "I'm the winner despite who ever else is there doing better than I am" are the ones who cant handle it when they face the real world (that – if they ever do.).
I am a Physics teacher who was literally fired for making kids work for their grade. I do not think it is necessarily our responsibility to make kids want to learn. We can make it interesting and pertinent, but at some point the students (and parents) need to take responsibility for their success or failure. The problem is if they don't work for it, we give it to them anyway because high graduation rates make the school look good. Then they flunk out in college. My kids succeed, and many credit taking my class for their success, but that seems to mean nothing. The solution is really very simple: Let good teachers fail kids that don't deserve to pass. Then they will take education seriously.
Yeah that's the problem with physics. And high level math. It's not that there isn't creativity involved, but you need so much basic knowledge before you get there that most people just check out the moment they see the integral sign.
I myself made it through physics because my dad was an Einstein fanboy. He'd constantly throw phrases around the dinner table like "the beauty of symmetry" and "the mystery of gravity" and stuff with the twin paradox so that physics for me was actually "What exactly is dad talking about". Also he helped me a lot, especially with electricity/magnetism. (somehow the circle on the integral didn't click until like five sample AP tests later, which I forced my dad to do with me.) Physics is hard! But once you learn it it becomes so easy that we think other people should pick it up like intuition. So there could also be a disconnect.
I wouldn't downplay students now-a-days. Their 'knowledge' might seem mindless but the research they do and the facts they've learned, although it hasn't gained them a PHD, it keeps them thinking and learning. With the right guidance, they can come around to channeling that towards something beneficial.
I know a kid who can recall dates, games, plays, team members and jersey numbers from numerous sports teams – its impressive the information he can retain.
Polassi, exactly the author's point. Obviously a bright kid. But his head is filled up with all that other stuff rather than knowledge that can be useful – to him, to an employer, to his community. Why isn't he as interested and passionate about history or how a motor works or the distance to the stars and how we might get there?
Yeah, but he doesn't have the frustration tolerance to follow directions or see a task through to its completion. Today's generation has an exaggerated sense of their own importance because their parents wanted to be their friends, and not parents. Many will be on government assistance soon because they do NOT have the cricital thinking skils mentioned in this article to GROW UP.
not necessarily.... hungry people make the best employees. Some people never get a formal education but master a trade, make big bucks and then go home and play video games. The melting pot of our wonderful country........
totally understood, and I agree. What i'm trying to say is that we shouldnt underestimate their capabilities. Some people love to learn, some people learn to learn... it all takes time and opportunities. I never thought I'd get a college degree – hated school and wanted to work in international field missions, but life dealt me a different hand and I ended up in a corporate job that geared me towards a degree for higher pay and better opportunity. I learned to learn and ended up really enjoying it. Everyone lives things out differently :)
Interesting....The author says education is broken, but he offers no insight regarding how he would fix it. Perhaps it isn't education that's broken, but rather our society, which doesn't respect education for the sake of education, thinks everyone must do well on some standardized test in order to prove their school is "successful", and which provides educators with broken children from broken homes full of poverty, drug use, abuse, and instability.
am old, but would not trade my school time for today. then the schools were not autonomous, but the principles exercised judgement to deal with problems "in house". we had parents that knew we were in trouble before we got home. that's when the real trouble hit. teachers today get no respect and all kids are different and learn in different ways. now, my grandkid is riveted to tv. i hate what's happening as they all become brain-dead. fat because the school systems are reducing pe, no art, no choices by the older children. my high school had 4 diplomas. rigid academic for college-bound; academic for "maybes";general for office work and vocational for trades. the students had to choose in 9th grade. they participated in their choices and were given credit for doing so. now they are adolescents in their 30s.
THANK YOU! I really appreciated this article. I am a young math teacher – this is my third year in education. I absolutely love my job and my students, but it's really hard. I don't teach advanced kids, I teach grade level and I teach 7th graders. I do my best to make my class interesting, but it's math! :) If there's one thing I've learned, it's that the relationship I have with my students does more than anything "cool" I could do in my lesson plans. I treat them with respect, we joke around (I'm never sarcastic, EVER), and I tell them that they have 100% of my trust and respect until they do something to prove me wrong. They have a fresh start when they walk into my classroom at the beginning of the year, no matter who they are or how much trouble they were in the year before. Even though I don't have the most exciting lesson plans most days, my kids learn because they like me and we get along. They're willing to put in the effort to pay attention in class not because I'm exciting or fun, but simply because I've shown them that I care and so they know that I don't do anything if I didn't think it was for their benefit. Oh sure, they're not angels and we've had some discipline problems – they're 13 year olds! But for the most part, it's been good.
But the problems in this article are so true. My kids don't understand why this is important or how it can affect them. I try to explain it, but so few of them get the support at home. Not that the parents have to know how do their homework, but just seeing IF they did it, following up on their grades, making them accountable for a failing grade. If the parents and society don't help show these kids how important it is to be well-informed, then it makes it that much more difficult for me to help them see it.
Absolutely. Education in our society is useless (to some) because it is not necessary to be educated to avoid being hungry and on the street. I earned my degrees and professional training in part not necessarily because I wanted to be successful, but in large part because I was afraid of failure. Few are afraid of failure these days due to the welfare state, since the gov't will feed you, clothe you, give you a roof, and give you free health care on a basic level. The Obama administration has even gone so far as to celebrate mediocrity and failure while demonizing success! Laziness and lack of ability are rewarded in a perverse twist of reverse Darwinism. Only when we admire success more than mediocrity will education become a goal worth working for.
Really? You know a lot of high school kids whose goal is to have the government take care of them? You meet a lot of kids who, when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, say: "Welfare recipient"? Because most of the kids I meet say they want to be rich. They're extrememly unrealistic about how they'll become rich - athlete, actor, entertainer or reality show celebrity - but they definitely want to be filthy rich. Your republican talking points about the lazy poor don't even stand up to reality when applied to adults and are even more laughable when you try to use them to explain the failures of our educational system.
Really Rex? Why is it that certain people believe that people WANT to live on government assistance? Who aspires to that? I imagine that maybe 1% or even 2% (and that is stretching it) are satified with government assitance, but 95+% want more than just $150 in food stamps and section 8 housing. It is human nature to want more and our government is only willing to provide just enough to keep you alive. They won't pay your cell phone bill, they won't buy you new clothes, they won't pay for movie tickets and there is a loooong list of items that food stamps NO NOT cover....basically if you want any kind of "life" you cannot live off of government assitance alone!
Government assitance is there to stop falling people from hitting rock bottom and yes, there are some who take advantage of the system, but it does not logically make sense, nor has it ever been proven that most of these people want to be in this position or are happy about it. I'm soooooo sick of hearing about the "welfare queens" or lazy assistance recipients. If government assitance means that poor children can have food to eat and vets can have a warm place to sleep then I am all for it. I have no problem with my tax dollars being used to help children (who have no control over what situation they are born into or what parents they have); vets (who put their lives on the line for our country – which is more than I have the b*lls to do); or anyone who needs help. I don't think it makes someone righteous to shun the less fortunate.
Wonderful! – Thanks.
As W.E.B. Du Bois stated, “The purpose of education is not to make men and women into doctors, lawyers, and engineers; the purpose of education is to make doctors, lawyers, and engineers into men and women.” – Even the Son of Man didn't come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. If eductation help us to follow His example, we will have fruitful life – if not life will be frustating whether you are a doctor, engineer etc....
Higher education is too expensive now!!!!
Seems like a lot of blame throwing around. As a student, let me tell you this: The education system makes little sense. The teachers do fine, its the upper command that makes all the stupid mistakes. Teachers have to spend this many days on this topic, teach this, do that, etc. If a class doesnt understand a topic, the teacher can't spend more time on the topic because the state told them to move on. The state/county education leaders never set foot in a school, nor understand how one works. The bull they make us do isn't motivating. Its like many other things; kick out the leaders and elect ones that can do the job, and the problem is solved.
Unschooling. That is all.
I think parenting is more broken than the educational system.
That's probably true, but the government is not legally able to "fix" parenting... nor would I wish them to have that ability. That's a line that I'd rather not see them cross.
My parents were textile workers and wouldn't have known algebra or trig or calc....but I took them all and passed. They would not have known where to start to help me with homework; teachers are more the key than parents of most of the scales when it comes to academics except for expectation – the parent has to set that. The students statement along with the good Docs was right on. I have friends that are teachers – I live on the border – one has three students that can't speak English, three ADD, and on so as they try to force integrate these problems in to the class room where does the teacher spend his/her time? If these same children fail, the teacher is punished. The children report like spies on the teachers and the child is usually rewarded undermining any kind of authority. The student perspective I find true, they are on a schedule to meet the test requirements and learning be damned if they don't get it. As well know with even adults, the light comes on a different times for students. Humble opinion.
Agreed. As a former teacher at a middle-of-the-road school I had parents show up high and drunk to pick up their kids from school. I had a parent fall asleep in my parent-teacher conference (I'm not joking). One mother looked me right in the face and said, "We don't do homework at my house because I don't have time." I gave 20 mins of homework a night and never any more than that. I've had students who have never seen a crayon, pen or pencil before setting foot in my classroom. Almost 3/4 of my students have TVs in their room. (I asked at the start of each year). However, the best parental experience I ever had was when I got a scathing letter from a parent explaining her son couldn't do his homework because she didn't have any money to buy the supplies (the homework required crayons and a pair of scissors) but all this student talked about was his new X Box, Nintendo, and DS and all his video games. I ended up paying for my student and his little sisters school supplies out of my personal pocket so they could do their homework.
maybe pointing out that the kardashian fortune began with a kardashian that was an attorney
just stop having kids...whats the point anyway? "to show your love towards each other?" Dont be foolish. 250K in debt isnt a good idea these days.
Aaaannnd....get rid of the notion of "online schooling" for K-12...its total BS
I know hundreds of parents, and none of them are 250k in debt... or even a tenth of that.
And they are not in debt because their chidren are under achievers, unmotivated and most likely not participating in any extra cirricular activities except eating junk and playing video games LOL.
I believe the reference is to the cost of raising a child.
This is the dumbest post I've read here. Congratulations!
Thank you Jery – 1 out of 4 intelligent responses isnt too bad I guess.
oops, Jerry rather
And to the person who had no idea what I was saying and handing out the well wishes, you obviously are oblivious to the situation of the world at the moment. I guess thats a product of online learning. Hopefully your parents got their money's worth in other ways.
Calvin, would sharing your own personal transformation, help with ideas on how to motivate today's generation?
There is a positive message at the end, buried within this discourse. However, I disagree with the message. I don't think that students are not passionate about the wrong things...I think it is more accurate to suggest they are not passionate about anything. Also, I don't think it matters what the student is excited by, but it is more important who excites them. A teacher can get a student interested in something non-educational, or a parent can get a child engaged about something that may not build a career right away. But then you get a connection made by someone who actually is watching the child or student, and frames future interactions with that childs' best interest at heart. I AM an engineer, actually more of a scientist, and one of the things that is messing up education is precisely the message this author is sending...it's "us" against "them." This is blatantly wrong...if a child is interested in math, trucks, toys, lava, music, frogs, cheese, ice cream...I don't care...I can work with that. Interest is like speed; the child's brain and heart is moving...it's not hard to divert it a bit.
Also, why the blatant hyperbole and drama? Obviously you are saying, "Watch out, the current methods of instruction are useless to a student who is completely disinterested in them." However, you make a statement about education (which is a result, not an action) being useless. I would have expected something a bit more objective from a mechanical engineer. However, thank you for the post, and thanks to everyone else who responded.
The problem is that students are being taught to answer standardized test questions for funding purposes. Thank you No Child Left Behind where we must stifle advanced learners so their less gifted friends can keep up.
You are right about that...I would love to see a school drop "standards" for a short period of time, and take the heat for it...as kind of a grand experiment to see what happens. I would like to think we could find something else to measure. Oh and one more thing...we keep talking about teachers doing different things for our kids. However, we don't tell, show, or motivate the teachers as to how. All we do is say "you stink" and "come up with ideas to do better, but here are 1000 constraints within which to implement your ideas." I suppose in some cases educational researchers (mostly detached from the front lines) come up with testbeds, but then you are telling a teacher, "you stink" and "use MY idea in your classes, fool." Talk about a double-shot.
Though I agree with the author on most counts, there seemed to be little in ways of how to motivate and how to encourage. My suggestion would be context; children need to know what they can do with this knowledge and what can truly be accomplished (like so many kids saw when we reached the moon).
I need to look no further than the Maker Movement to see all the context that is required. Children, Adolescents and Adults are all able to see the intersection of math, science, engineering and art all in one place. I highly recommend following the MAKE blog (http://blog.makezine.com) and seeking out local Maker Faire's when they are in town (http://makerfaire.com). Nothing like being up close to a 30 foot fire breathing dragon statue to get kids thinking, "When and how do I get to build one of those?"
Chris, I understand your point about telling students what they can do with the material they "learn" in class, but that never helped me in my general education classes. I could be told all day that Math is used for this, this, this and that – History is used for all this stuff – Science is used for all that stuff...but it won't matter to the student if you tell them directly, let them learn it on their own. I know as a student sitting in a class being told what I can do with the knowledge, I was bored to tears; when I discovered that the past knowledge I had gained was being employed into what I was doing at a later time, I was very thankful I learned the skill.
Interesting. However, stop putting it all onto the educational system. Parents start children out at home worshiping sports figures, rock starts, and pseudo celebrities. They allow them to watch the trash on TV with little or no supervision or discussion. As a teacher, I DO engage them with interesting lessons. I DO show them people to emulate. I DO allow them to pursue their passions. Unfortunately, I'm working against all they learn at home. Education is worthless. All I have to do is run fast and I can be a football star. If I can be outrageous enough, I can be like Kim Kardassian. I don't need to actually work at anything. Life will just hand me whatever I need.
Now, of course, this isn't every home situation or every parent. It is a huge percentage of those that we teach in the lower socio-economic strata – and that number is just growing.
In addition, we are told what to teach and how to teach it by legislators who have no clue as to what are the best practices in education.
So, help us out here, parents! Start it at home. Continue it through out your child's entire childhood. Vote against legislators who would divide everything by the lowest common denominator and stifle teachers until school's are a factory turning out widgets! WE NEED YOU IN OUR FIGHT!!!!
Thank you Susan. Your students are very fortunate to get a teacher like you. If every teacher in US would enligten the parents with this kind of thought US will soon surpass the so called education super centers liek China , India etc.
You have graciously articulated what I have been thinking, feeling, and expressing all along. It's nice to learn that I am not alone in this.
You have hit the nail on the head, concerning education. Public education has become a "vast waste land"
Public education. Continues to reproduce followers and not future leaders and doers. I asked my daughters teachers
many years ago, do you teach them "what to think, or how to think? in so many cases the wrong answer was given.
The quest should be to learn something new each day and continue to grow and explore. The nation can only benefit
From this approach.
you may want to take up the issues of what teachers teach and how they teach it with your legislatures who have no educational qualifications, yet are able to (and do) determine all the above
so sick of schools operating like factories and treating kids like they all the same. conformity stifles creativity and innovation
Welcome to life in the No Child Left Behind generation where our kids have to learn what is going to be asked on the standardized tests so the schools can continue to receive funding. My son is in first grade and has the ability to add, subtract and multiply. However, they are currently working on teaching them how to count using 10's. Hmmm...a waste of his time...I think so.
This article and many of the responses ignores many of the benefits of education besides memorizing textbooks: education helps our kids socialize and learn how to deal with others, it teaches them discipline and how to manage different activities, and it exposes them to lots of new ideas and perspectives. There are lots of benefits even if the teachers aren't perfect. And there are lots of critics that have a fairy-tale notion about education. Not every student is going to become a doctor or lawyer or engineer. But it gives everyone the opportunity to become something great if they work hard and take advantage of what's given to them.
We are supposed to live in the land of opportunity. Education should be the equalizer that gives everyone the same starting point from which they have an equal chance to succeed. That is not the case. Educational quality varies by from district to district, usually driven by the amount of funding available. Teachers are vilified as leaches rather than being celebrated for being the gateway to our future. If we raise teachers up, we will have the best and brightest competing to teach our children. Great teachers motivate students to lean and to think for themselves.
You have hit the nail on the head, education has become a "vast waste land" it's geared to reproduce followers
And not to produce leaders, thinkers and doers. A question I asked my daughters teachers was " do you teach them
How to think or what to think.?" In many cases, the wrong answer was given. Expoursure to the possibilities of
Learning something new each day can only enrich one's life. We as a nation must adopt a better direction.....
I agree totally with you about our young people. They really are not thirsty for knowledge. What they seem to be thirsty for is the next New generation cell phone, or what ever the newest thing in on the technology list comes a long. Life for them is "you want information? You don't even have to use critical thinking just look it up on the internet." Now, while I am an not against the internet because I use it a lot. I still think that rather than just looking up something that we must get our children back to the inquisitive state where they will not only get answers but learn how to question.
Great post thank you so much,
I love this. This is exactly why I and so many other parents are embracing homeschooling. I want my children to have the freedom to create and explore the world and figure out what they are passionate about. At six years old my son is already delving into subjects that interest him. He wouldn't have the time to do that if I sent him to school. I'm also teaching him the basics of education at his pace and in an engaging way so that I don't lose him. We have so many opportunities out there to meet with other people doing the same thing...until our school system realizes how children really learn, I think more and more parents will turn to homeschooling.
youre lucky, most parents dont have that option.
You are right, joebob, that many parents may not have the option, but I subscribe to many local homeschooling lists, and I have read messages from single parents and financially struggling parents who are committed to homeschooling. I would never say it's the right path for everyone, but if parents feel strongly about it, it is an option they can at least consider.
I disagree that most parent's who need to earn a living for themselves won't turn to homeschooling. It's not a bad option if it works for you, although I'm always curious how homeschooled kids learn subjects like advanced physics if they want to. Anyway, to all their own, but if you live in a good school district like the one I grew up in, the teachers and other students are what propelled me to work hard and advance my education in college, along with my family of course. There is no right path for everyone, there's pros and cons to both
I'm sure homeschoolers will stay a minority among school age children in this country, but the numbers of homeschoolers have been rising quite a bit in the last few years, and I think it'll keep rising. You may not care enough to do any research on the subject, but those interested in homeschooling will find countless resources these days to help them. There are classes, co-ops, and full curriculums to purchase, if they want to do that. Many high school age children opt for dual enrollment and take college courses for early college credit. There are pros and cons to both choices, and homeschooling isn't for everybody. It's really about looking at your child's needs. Some kids may thrive in public school while others benefit more from one-on-one instruction at home.
Its more about the family than the school. My daughters are receiving an excellent education in their schools and they still have time to pursue areas of personal interest. But they are motivated and want to learn. That IS the key as noted in the article.
I completely agree with you, MarkinFL – it's more about the family than the school. If parents are engaged and think about their child's individual needs, they will have much better chances at excelling.
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