ROSE NOLEN: Education once turned children into responsible adults

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 | 12:02 p.m. CDT

I always thought my brother would have made a grand teacher. He was enthusiastic, bright and committed.

But he was also a disciplinarian, and he graduated from school too many years too late. As it was, he only taught for a couple of years, and then he quit and became a cook.

I think about my brother in that role as a teacher, many times. I think of him as I see young men who have dropped out of school struggle in the lines of the unemployed.

I think of him as I see young women struggle to stay in school when they can’t afford the price of a notebook. My brother could have helped win the war for education.

As it was, my brother finished school about 40 years too late. He became a teacher when it became more important to parents that their children have a good time in school rather than get a good education.

He became a teacher when it became more important for Junior to have a nice car than a nice diploma. He became a teacher when children could stay at home with parents when they were grown and never have to worry about finding a job.

My brother got the message. He never went back to teaching, and we never discussed it. We both thought it was a bad idea that America was hiring employees from other countries because they didn’t have qualified applicants at home.

We were sorry to hear about the thousands of well-paying jobs here in America with no available candidates to fill them. But we assumed that Americans knew what they were doing.

Actually, I always liked school. I was glad when teachers were able to keep disruptive students under control so they didn’t interfere with my getting a good education.

Fortunately, too, those disruptive students learned to pay attention, and so they ultimately also became good students.

So, I was glad that I finished school under the old system. I was glad I wasn’t able to quit school before I had enough education to get a good job. I wouldn’t have enjoyed living at home when I was old enough to afford one of my own.

I’m sorry that my brother couldn’t help win the battle for education. I certainly hope Americans will realize that we had a good educational system once. It needed supplementing, not changing.

For one of the few times in my life, I’m able to admit, older people had it right. They knew how to teach children to be responsible adults.

I’m not sure we know how now.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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Mark Foecking August 26, 2014 | 7:28 p.m.

Um, education turns kids into well-educated adults.

Good parenting turns kids into responsible adults. They're two different things.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 27, 2014 | 7:07 a.m.

@ Mark Foecking & Michael Grinfeld:

Mark: I agree, and there could also be at least some vague connection between low current public education performance (at all levels) and that old saying about "the inmates having assumed control of the asylum."

Michael: It appears my post Tuesday concerning football stadiums was spot on. What is the featured article this morning in the Missourian? Why gosh, golly darn, it's about going to see MU's recently renovated football stadium. How many academic scholarships for financially strapped students would the cost of those renovations have bankrolled? Seriously, you must drive down and see OUR football stadium: it's absolutely breathtaking! Sorry for my spelling of "magnifient" in my prior post: engineers - especially ours - are well known to be poor at spelling. :)

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