Thoughts on Education.

I was thinking about education today.  The ‘modern’ education system in America.  How much it misses the mark in bringing out something special in those whom are our futures.  Thinking about how I want my children to learn.  I reflected back upon my own experiences, in many different schools across the country.

I once scored 19 on a geometry test because the questions were poorly designed, my proofs were not accepted to what the teacher had framed in her mind of what the proper way was. Today, I build 3d models for fun. I can also debug and write programs in over 20 different programming languages.

I once got a perfect score on the AP Bio exam. One of my written essays from it was used as an example in College Board’s preparation material. My teacher told me after “I thought you would get a 1”. (It was a 1-5 scoring system, 5 being the highest) Showing the lack of understanding a teacher has for their student’s abilities.

I once got into a fight with an English teacher, and advisor to the school newspaper, over proper use of “aiming for” vs “aiming at” in an article.  (not physical fight, but rather a very heated and loud debate)  Took her 4 months to admit I was correct. Today, it is normal that I may write a 50 page report in a few hours.

I entered college with 18 credits, and tested out of many things. I dropped out after a semester. I awoke to the realization that degree mill style of learning was flawed for me, and it would have been a very expensive mistake for me to go through with. While others my age were learning how to footnote and cite in an essay, I went to work for Air Force Space Command and Oracle.  I helped change how we think of technologies such as GPS, and was integral in many of the pioneering companies steps into an interactive internet presence.

This was over 20 years ago, when the schools were fractured but not so much as common core’s influence.

Throughout the first 15 years of my career, I had been against most certifications. Not getting a single one, not desiring to.  In the last 6 years, I have picked up almost 70 certs/accreditations, many of which a single one would be a big goal for the person getting it in their career. I would not have taken the exams if it was not a forced requirement for the job due to working at a VAR with many vendors in which we sell for.  (See more of my thoughts on certifications here)

I was a C average student in school. I skipped almost as many days as I attended my senior year. Illustrating that they are parallel to what’s wrong with skills testing and factory schooling as a whole.  I had a 20+ hour a week job as a web developer in the 90s, programming in PERL and python as a teenager, which I used to pay rent my own rent, buy food, etc.  Went off on my own early.

It was not any class which guided my future. It was not any one teacher that set me on the path I needed to go.  If anything, they were stumbling blocks on my way to where I am now.

Give your kids an education the school won’t teach:

  • Take your kids interesting places.
  • Get them a passport (I wish I had one when I was younger)
  • Have them experience a wide variety of foods and cultures.
  • Teach them that an honest job is to be respected, but it’s ok to prepare for a better position.
  • Introduce them to computers and simple programming early.
  • Teach them to work with their hands.
  • Let them take things apart, and put it back together.
  • Have them try sports which may not be the big popular ones.
  • Look them in the eyes when you speak to them, and make them look at you.
  • Let them realize it’s ok to make mistakes, and that they should try not to repeat them.
  • Give them a desire to find new experiences and new things to learn.

We have far too many drones unwilling to learn on their own, without being spoonfed by institutional learning.

For yourselves, never stop learning.  If you must, use certs as a guideline but not an end goal.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, or try a new job, a new path.

As Walt Disney once said:

Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

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