This week's topic was my suggestion. What is education? Wikipedia says "Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits." And why should we be educated? To search for truth and improve the human condition? To prepare students to effectively enter the workforce?
Discussion on the purpose of education is as old as civilization itself. A successful society needs folks pulling together at times and yet being independent and thoughtful individually. That means an individuals education needs to be broad enough to teach independence and cooperation - and hopefully to recognize when one's interest is better served by those notions.
My education has been fairly typical for one here in the USA. Primary school - grades k-8 built the basic foundation for more complex subjects in high school. My high school was fairly typical for its time - there was a broad array of subject matter offered so one could supplement the core courseware with "elective" classes, including vocational training. Because of my performance on various tests I was earmarked for college prep type clases, vocational courseware not being practical as I was a three-sport jock (football, wrestling and baseball) so there was always a conflict with course times. I typically had PE at 7 AM and practices starting a 3PM after school classes. Hence I was not a car guy like several friends - I could change tires and put gas in the tank. That is about it. High school was extremey easy for me although I did have uissues with calculus - math just did not interest me. Luckily my pal Benny (Jim Benson) was a math whiz and I got through it. Interestingly enough, from the ACT and SAT on I typically scored better on the math portions of the tests than the other parts. Go figure.
So in June of 1967 I graduated from Mt Eden High School and prepared to enter college. Wholly unprepared. But,i was still a decent football player so I muddled through a few years still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. The fact that I had grown up was lost on me. It seems my education focused way to much on grades than on finding something I really cared about. Along the way I failed the physical when trying to join the Army and then got into a huge blowout with a football coach named Les Davis who guaranteed me I would never find a coaching job as long as he had a say about it. Yes - he had that kind of influence but truthfully I actually had very little passion to coach football anyway.
Around that time I developed an interest in Political Science and that became my major - I earned a BA in 1973 afte being a part-time student while working several part time jobs after being married in 1972. But what to do with that degree? I did not (and do not) have the patience to teach. I toyed with the notion of law school until 1976 when Lynn was offered a promotion to New England. So off we went to the far side of the planet - where the ocean was in the wrong direction but lobster (Lynn's favorite) was plentiful.
Why - you may ask am I chronicling this experience? I was still looking for something that I could be passionate about. As luck would have it just as I was figuring that out we were offered a chance to move back to California, Adios Connecticut - hello Hermosa Beach. Oh - and Lynn was pregnant so that was added to the equation. Suddenly family responsibilities trumped job passion. Adios Broadcasting School - no dejay job in the future. Russ the Moose Syracuse's would remain the top all night dejay ever IMHO. Russ the Moose Syracuse It is somewhat ironic that one who hates to fly s much as I do would happily join the nightly midnight flight captained by Russ the Moose.
Long story short, in November of 1977 I started working at RadioShack in Marina del Rey. Electronics became the closest thing to a passion I would ever discover.
My point in this rambling is to simply say that education must be designed to challenge students and make them curious. To peak their curiosity and point them in a direction that sparks their passion. Exactly how that is done is the topic for another discussion, While the world still sends students here to learn, our own students are falling behind. Our technical institutes of higher learning are populated more and more by Asian students. The American way still works for those willing to work at it.
And whaa do my cohorts have to say? Check them out - Ramana, Pravin, Maria, and Ashok