As most of you know I spend a lot of time researching Caddo history and doing genealogy for about a hundred other people. It’s a unique hobby to be sure. My children call it “looking for dead people”. At least it keeps me off the streets.
This morning as I was preparing my Caddo blog I came across this gem of wisdom that I feel compelled to pass on to you:
The Caddo Herald
September 4, 1925
Judge McCormack of San Francisco, says these are the 13 commonest mistakes in life:
- To attempt to set up your own standards of right and wrong.
- To try to measure the enjoyment of others by your own.
- To expect uniformity of opinions in this world.
- To fail to make allowances for experience.
- To endeavor to mold all dispositions alike.
- To yield to unimportant trifles.
- To look for perfection in our own actions.
- To worry ourselves and others about what cannot be remedied.
- To consider a thing impossible that we cannot ourselves perform.
- Failing to help everybody wherever, whenever, and however we can.
- To believe only what our minds can grasp.
- Not to make allowances for the weakness of others.
- To estimate by some outside quality when it is that within which makes the man.
I was especially struck by the aptness of number five to what we are currently doing in education. We have taken a good idea- providing a standardized education for all- and turned it into a very bad idea- creating a standardized student. We have idealized the “college and career” path to the point that we think every child should, and will, follow it, regardless of their intelligence, talents, personality, or desires.
I am a poster child for not following my expected career path. Most of my family thought I would finish college and teach high school English before I was even old enough to vote. Others pictured me as a college professor by thirty. Instead I chose to experience a few decades in advertising, retail sales, and motherhood, with a few odd jobs thrown in here and there. I do not regret those years, or what they taught me. When I finally returned to college in my forties I knew exactly what I wanted to do- teach kindergarten. Several professors told me I HAD to be more flexible so I got a degree which allows me to teach up to the eighth grade. And because of circumstances too convoluted to explain here, I have a Master’s degree in Administration. But you would be hard-pressed to offer me any incentive, from money to glory, to even consider that as a career option. I am doing what I was born to do.
I have had the opportunity now to see what many of my former students have chosen to do with their lives. Some have stayed the college course and are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and CEOs. But many have profitably followed paths other than “college and career”. And I can testify to the happiness and success of an equal number from each group. We need only listen to the evening news to know that we have college graduates all over the country who are unemployed. I have come to the conclusion that it is not education that is the key to success in life, but what a person does with it. I know that sounds a little like shooting myself in the foot, but it really is justification for an even better and broader education than we now offer so that students would have more options to choose from. An education is only valued by a person if it enables them to do what they feel compelled to do with their life. Instead of cutting the arts and music and auto shop and home economics and welding and construction and agriculture from so many programs, we ought to figure out ways to add them to the choices we offer our children. Perhaps instead of a “cookie cutter curriculum” at all high schools we could create high schools with specific specialties and let students attend the one that meets their needs. Or maybe we could let students stay in their local school for a basic curriculum and attend elsewhere for special classes. Or perhaps they could attend two years of standardized study and two years of special studies. I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that honing down our curriculum to only “reading, writing, and arithmetic” is a step in the wrong direction…even if it IS done on a laptop!