Friday, August 10, 2018

The danger of one size fits all.

If you are shopping for shoes, you know that not all sizes fit. In fact, most will not. But if you are planning for your children to be successful in their lives, do you plan for them to go to college and then express disappointment and condemn them as failures if they do not? Is successful completion of college the only measure of  their success? Or may we allow our children to find their own internal motivations, their own successes and allow for them to find joy in their lives and in service to others regardless of whatever academic hurdles they choose to tackle or not?

For many years, TV advertisements have made the point that those who achieve higher degrees from colleges and universities have higher lifetime earnings. But I wonder what the the balance would be if the time and expenditure for colleges and universities were taken into consideration. How much was paid by dropouts for uncompleted degrees? How would we take into consideration all the false starts, changed majors and careers that take off in vastly different directions?

Most parents have things in mind that they hope their children will do or become. And we wish success to each. Under most circumstances we wish greater success to our own children. But we can create a society in which all those who make contributions to the success of human culture are afforded dignity and respect. And why not?

I saw on the news that Ivanka Trump visited a technical college and tried her hand at virtual welding using a simulator. It is good that technical training is making a comeback. I wonder if she would urge her own son or daughter to become educated in that direction. What we need is more than isolated technical training as described by Woodrow Wilson when he was president of Princeton:
"We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."— Woodrow Wilson
What we need is a general education for all children (even those destined for college) that's infused with the character and intelligence that the engagement of the hands, doing real things, can provide.

That education should allow for the diverse interests of each child rather than forcing all children to comply with uniform standards.

Then we need to reshape society so that the super rich are more fully cognizant of their own debts to society and the labors upon which they stand. If you have a class of persons who've never made diddly squat, or attempted to gain skill in the practical arts, how will they then act to sustain the dignity and value of others in their communities... Those who may have had no choice but to engage in the practical arts?

Yesterday I attended studio stroll at ESSA and saw wonderful tables the students had made in Steve Palmer's furniture design class. Each table was unique. Each was a reflection of the student's interests and intended use.

Make, fix and create...

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