How do you establish a common baseline as what skills are necessary to survive and contribute to society? Also, how do you determine how a person meets those criteria in a timely fashion so the system is efficient? I agree that the system does a disservice to some individuals but for the majority it works.
These questions were posed to me by a friend after I shared a photo on my personal Facebook timeline stating that a fish should not be judged by it’s ability to climb a tree.
Here’s the response I gave this friend:
Wouldn’t living/participating in society be the best way to establish the skills needed to live in society? Also, do we need to establish a common baseline? Or perhaps instead of teaching everyone specific facts, we could teach them how to acquire the required knowledge for themselves? For example, the baseline I have for my children includes seeking/trusting the Lord and making Him the center of their lives, learning how to manage finances, taking care of their family, and having integrity in all they do. Those are skills that they learn through participating in society, and church, and getting involved in business and family affairs. I could care less if they ever learn how to solve a quadratic equation, or memorize who the 6th prime minister of Canada was, or know exactly how photosynthesis works.
And what is the definition of “timely fashion?” People used to be married with careers before age 20 and nowadays we still have 30-40 year olds living with their parents who, according to “the system” have been told they are adults but, according to society, do not have the skills necessary to venture out on their own. There are also many individuals who are still pursuing conventional education at those ages who don’t actually begin contributing to society until 10 years later than those who chose to learn career skills within their career instead of in a classroom.
As for efficiency and the system working for the majority of individuals, my personal experience has been very different. Most people I know hated school and learned more about how to live in society after their conventional schooling was finished. They don’t remember and/or use most of the information they were taught in school and, instead, acquired the skills necessary for their vocation through actually participating in that field. I also know way to many people who were made to feel stupid (and some were actually directly told they were stupid) and therefore they still believe that, because they were a fish who was asked to climb a tree, they must be stupid. It is heartbreaking that those “fish,” so to speak, are now too afraid to swim. It may be “efficient” for us to put everyone through the same system, but has not proven effective.
Here is an article where the author states that “The truth is: the sooner you start learning from the real world, the sooner you will find success. School is great as far as it can teach you basic knowledge and allow you to network. However, going to college is not the end — it’s only the beginning.” (Note: Some of the pictures are offensive and I do not necessarily agree with every opinion of the writer, but he does make some good points that are worth considering.)
Another great article on this subjects reminds us that “wisdom, insight and intelligence aren’t a function of how many years you spent in school.”
Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying that college & university are worthless. There are certain instances when it can be very beneficial to attend conventional schooling. What I am saying, however, is that conventional schooling does not help us establish a baseline of skills necessary to live in and contribute to society. Many people thrive in their careers, not only in spite of not completing college or high school, but because of it. It gave them those extra years of experience that they would not have otherwise gotten. In fact, some of the greatest business minds that I know never completed high school. Many of the other great business minds I know are not even working in the field of their degree.
The common baseline of skills is established, and learned, by getting involved in society and applying. Skills are learned in a timely fashion (when a person needs them) and effectively applied. My opinion is that the “real world” is nothing like the “classroom world.” We even tell kids, when they graduate from high school or university and start working full time, “welcome to the real world.”
Where do you stand: should we have a checklist of skills or facts that children need to learn before they become contributing members of society? Is there a specific timeline that we should expect our children to learn them? Is there a particular way that these skills should be taught?