ROSE NOLEN: We can't ignore problems in education

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We are going to have to do something about it sooner or later.

I’m talking about education.

We can continue to believe that we are educating people. Or we can accept the fact that 100 years ago, people who graduated from eighth grade were smarter than high school graduates are today.

Now, obviously, some people are getting an education. They are attending exceptional schools and colleges. But, unfortunately, many schools are failing, and the students are paying the price. I hear stories that there are companies in the United States today unable to find employees with the technical know-how to hire.

This, if true, is not surprising. That’s because we would rather blame the government, the employers or anybody else rather than face up to the fact that we have allowed our schools to fail. Parents have become so overprotective of their children that some teachers would rather work any place other than a classroom. Many teachers are looking for a school where they can teach.

Did some of us — who are now senior citizens — ever have to sit in a classroom with teachers who were unfair? Of course we did. I have gone to school with teachers who were actually dumber than me. The first time I complained about a teacher, I was told that it was not my place to judge the ability of the teacher. It was my job to learn and that included learning the difference between what was right and what was wrong.

In earlier times, parents took the responsibility for teaching their own children how to live and sent them to school to learn how to make a living. And it was not just for the ability to earn a living that one was educated, but more importantly, it was because through education one could gain the ability to enhance one’s life. Therefore, it wouldn’t matter how one earned a living, he or she would have the inner resources necessary to make a good life. Only if an individual were rich could he or she expect to be taken care of for the rest of her life.

In the new age, however, parenting is looked upon as a unique, new achievement uncommon among everyday people. Basic parenting tools such as love, discipline and self-respect got lost in the revelry of adoration, worship and idolatry.

Except the world began to move forward at an incredible speed, and within hardly any time at all we became global citizens. And we, as global citizens, suddenly had to compete with the whole world.

Time is of the essence. America must get ahead of the game again. Our children represent the future. Most of us cannot buy them a place in the world. They must earn it for themselves.

Education is important. American corporations should not have to import from other countries to fill their job quotas. Colleges should be alert to the job market. They should be teaching for jobs of the future.

Many people are out of work. A lot of them are educated and are quite capable of doing a good job. Some wasted their time in school and are disinterested in getting an education. We can only hope that this long period of joblessness has helped some to focus on self-improvement.

We need to quit playing electronic games, turn off the computers and the televisions and go back to school.

Learning is a good thing.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Ellis Smith July 17, 2012 | 6:15 a.m.

Bravo! Education is not somebody else's job; education is every body's job, and it doesn't end at some arbitrary, formal level.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates July 17, 2012 | 9:58 a.m.

Agree. If some of these kids, too many, spent 10% of the time they spent playing computer games on reading and studying, they'd be solid A+ and academic scholarship material.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 17, 2012 | 10:00 a.m.

I'm certainly on board with the message in this article.

Unfortunately, the devil is in the details and I doubt Rose and I would agree on how to change the US educational system.

Our nation is stagnant when it comes to lofty national goals; towards WHAT are we looking? John F. Kennedy, that mean ol' democrat, goosed the US educational system big time with his goal of setting a man on the moon....and it wasn't even the final goal that proved important. It was the "doing" and the educational opportunities and excitement that went with it.

Rose writes that education is important so as to "enhance one's life." I heartily agree, but again I think Rose and I would disagree with what "enhance" means. Uneducated people can be enriched with friends, family, and other activities while educated people can be miserable in spirit.

And it is one's "spirit" that counts, educated or otherwise.

How many of us have a job/career that causes us to jump out of bed in the morning, eager to "get to it?" I was blessed with this, but I'm guessing most aren't.

There's no collective or individual excitement. We, as individuals, have lost some of the ability to create a real and sustained excitement and enhancement in our own lives. Everything is geared towards the short-term. There is no mission.

Are Facebook, IPads, and computer games a sufficient enhancement of one's individual spirit?

Those parents who recognize the value of "spirit" and the excitement of learning and discovery will continue to actively guide their children's education...the school system be damned....while the rest won't. We'll still be having this conversation a hundred years from now.

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