Friday, March 29, 2013

Education is more than just “getting a job”

More and more we hear about educational institutions working with business to make sure that high school students are properly trained for the business world. What they overlook is that education is more than just getting a job. It is about learning to survive in the society in which students live. They need to understand their own culture, their rights under the law and how their political system works.
But those ideas are lost on our educators and the business community. As an example The Wichita Eagle reported that nearly120 business and education leaders planned an event Oct. 30-31 to work toward addressing the technical skills that employers need and workers must have for today's jobs.
"We can no longer afford just to send every kid to college to discover themselves and expect them to come out in the end prepared for today's job market," Bill Hagerman, the director of innovation and improvement for the state's Department of Education told The Wichita Eagle.
Subjects such as music and art are constantly being targeted by those who want to cut on education costs. History is also taught on a shoe string budget. Spanish is the only foreign language taught at many high schools today. This is a time a history when we are more connected to the world than any other in a long time and the idea that no one needs foreign language, except maybe Spanish, is ridiculously short sited.
If people want to learn a foreign language, later in life, they need to learn at least one foreign language at an early age. It becomes a lost cause later in life. We are short changing our students by denying them the cultural experiences of foreign language.
I Once showed “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” to students who thought none of it was funny. Later I had to show the same movie in a class I was substituting for and only the accelerated students laughed at it. Without a decent knowledge of history of the middle ages students don’t understand the humor.  We are raising a generation of culturally illiterate people because we spend too much time listening to what businesses want out of our students and have forgotten that education has many facets besides just getting a job.
Knowledge of our music and art history is another example of areas that businesses, students and parents may not see as important. But they are part of our culture and we are developing a hollow phony culture of commercial crap. Advertizing is everywhere and on everything. Very little of our artwork is for the sake of artistic inspiration. It is all developed to sell us cheap crap we really don’t need. How many of our high school students really need athletic shoes that cost a thousand dollars and up because they have a designer’s name?
Unless someone speaks out against these trends we are destined to become a superficial society of culturally illiterate tech-nerds.


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