Thursday, March 15, 2007

On the qualities of failure... Two years ago when the Rogers, Arkansas superintendent of schools made his beginning of the school year remarks to returning teachers, he said that they essentially failed every student who did not go on to a 4 year college degree. I wasn't there to hear his speech, so I may have missed some subtle nuance of his intention, but if you look around you will discover that we have become obsessed with college education to the point that students are thrust into life on their own with huge debts while their parents spend years trying to recover.

A couple of years ago, furniture design programs were attacked in the media because they didn't provide their graduates with all the knowledge required to compete in the furniture design world. I graduated with my degree in Political Science, and it is odd that no one ever raised the issue of colleges preparing political scientists with what they will need to compete, or even what we could possibly do with our degrees upon graduation.

(We can see clearly that graduation from Yale offers no special qualifications, except to position oneself for magnification of one's personal failures to global proportions.)

I would like to sit the superintendent of Roger's schools down for one moment and discuss real failure. If we have failed to offer our children the opportunity to discover the joy of learning through the hands, we have indeed failed. If we fail to offer our children a full insight into their potentials, both of hand and heart and of intellect, then we have failed severely and miserably. If we have failed to instruct them in the dignity of all labor, then we have failed our society for many years to come. There are many wonderful human beings that don't need a college degree to discover their own best potentials, joy of service and fulfillment in life. Neither he nor his teaching staff should be held to task for their "failure" to push these children into college. His true failure is that of closing doors of opportunity for the thousands of his children who do not have the opportunity to experience the wisdom of their hands.

I know you've seen enough pinwheels on this blog, but have you seen enough fun today? This is the first day of my spring break, so there will be few pictures of students at work for a few days.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:28 AM

    Ah, but graduation from Yale, or Harvard or Princeton, carries with it the distinction of graduation from such a place. Those schools are no better at educating, but they confer some mystical prestige along with the diploma.