What’s Wrong With Education?

Too Much

Too Much Money - The average cost per student for public education in the US is $10,615 per year.  But this number conceals a wide variation.  Utah spends just over $6,000 and New York spends over $18,000.  Assuming no inflation (a bad assumption I admit), the total average cost of K-12 education in the US is $137,999 not counting college!  And $234,000 for states like New York.

And then there’s college.

  • Average tuition for private college: $32,405
  • Average out of state public college tuition: $23,893
  • Average in state public college tuition: $9,410

That’s a total MINIMUM investment of well over $175,639 from childhood to adulthood.

What is this massive investment really buying us as individuals and as a society?

Too Much Conformity - And during those 18-22 years the overwhelming message is conformity, obedience, and blind trust.  We tell students to do what they’re told and to trust that big rewards lay ahead.  Except that stopped being the case in 1974.

Too Much Peer pressure - Most students get lost in the shuffle.  They lose who they are, they lose hope, and become incredibly susceptible to ridiculous pressures; sex, drugs, materialism and more.  And not just the inner city ‘disadvantaged youth’…I’m talking about average suburban children.

We’ve got to stop pretending that these problems belong to those ‘other’ people.  Nearly every parent I speak to, when they get comfortable and honest, confesses some version of “I don’t want my children to go into adulthood as unprepared as I was (am).”

We’ve asked parents to rate the degree to which their education prepared them for some of life’s most important elements.  1 = not at all, and 10 = perfectly.  Here are the results, not from academics and public officials, but from the adults who know the truth first hand;

  • Marriage = 3.14
  • Parenting = 2.57
  • Health & Fitness = 1.86
  • Finance = 3.29
  • Career Satisfaction = 2.29

An “F” is a grade below 60%.  I know because I got some D’s that flirted with the F range.  It was horrible, unacceptable, ‘the end of the world’.  The highest grade that real, ‘educated’ adults are giving our education system in the areas that matter most?

32.9%

You could double that number and it would STILL suck.

Does this mean that public school can serve no purpose?  Of course not, but we need to get real and understand what it does and does not do.

If we want our children to grow up and become successful adults in a completely different world, then we better get really serious about supplementing their preparation long before adulthood.  Because trying to fix broken adulthoods is waaaay harder than building strong children.

Too Little

Too Little Challenge - You know what builds self esteem and leads people to accomplish more and more and try harder and harder? 

Challenges. 

Big and small, frequent, meaningful challenges that enable us to discover what we’re best at, what we’re capable of, and that we have something to contribute.

Only a certain portion of any school body is going to experience academic ‘success’. The graph below is the typical experience of students.  Only 25% will experience and “A or B” level of ‘school success’.  The rest, 75%, must settle for mediocrity or worse.

Are 75% of us really mediocre human beings?

Is there really no area where we each have the ability to produce A level results?

Of course not. 

But after 18 years of being told you are mediocre or worse, what are the odds that they you recover and find your place in the world?

And I don't mean find a spouse, or a house or a job.  No offense, but those are a dime a dozen and very few people have those aspects where they truly want them.

Too Little Creativity - The problems that most need solving in the New Economy cannot be solved with Industrial age thinking.  If they could they would have been solved.

Adults who do not know how to creatively solve problems in the New Economy will be relegated to the ranks of cogs who will be told what to do.  

Too Little Collaboration - The problems that most need solving in the New Economy cannot be solved alone.  Again, if they could, they would have already been solved.

Yet our education system mandates that we sit still, look straight ahead, and ‘do our own work.’ 

This is exactly how NOT to succeed in the New Economy.  If we tell students to not collaborate for 18-22 years +, is it realistic to expect them to magically become exceptional and enthusiastic collaborators as adults?

Have you observed most marriages?  Have you been to a home owners association?  Have you watched the news lately?

Of course you have.  And every breakdown we see includes adults who went through the same education process that claims it exists to produce successful adult collaborators.

What’s your plan to teach your child become an exceptional collaborator?  Tell them to play nice?  That’s what I was taught, and it has extremely little in common with truly effective team collaboration.

Too Little Leadership - Creativity and collaboration are really about leadership.  Leading others to solve new problems, to create a new future, together.

Leadership is not a title that one gets because of tenure and a degree.  Leadership is not a position of authority.  Leadership is getting people to willingly and enthusiastically do what needs to be done.

School doesn’t teach this.  Even worse it models the exact opposite.  Beginning in Kindergarten, children begin the experience that adults in the workforce know all too well;  “No one wants to do the right thing, so we need managers, supervisors, policies, regulations, security cameras, performance reviews, laws, police, regulatory bodies and more…”

But this isn’t really true.  Nearly everyone wants to contribute to a bigger better future.  Yet there are precious few leaders who know how to create an environment that harnesses this powerful fact.

Leadership is not some vague art that one is born with.  It can and must be taught.  Everyone must learn to lead.  Whether it’s leading a family, a work team, or their community.

School doesn’t teach leadership it teaches control, authority, power and influence.  It teaches you that life is a zero sum game, so get the authority, so that you have the power to influence and control the outcome like most teachers and administrators resort to doing.

Too Late

18-22 + years of subordinating to authority, of not experiencing success and avoiding the real world would be unthinkable if it had not somehow become ‘what everyone just does because that’s what we’ve always done.’

Except this is NOT what we have always done.  This is very recent experiment that has gone horribly wrong.

We’ve learned that it’s ‘OK’ to hand our children off to strangers and expect them to raise them.

We’ve learned that first you ‘do school’, and then you go build a life.

Building one’s life must begin at the earliest age.  This cannot be postponed.

Everything that we see ‘going wrong’ in society is the direct result of prior preparation and conditioning.

Family breakdowns, Financial meltdowns, Health failures, Political corruption these are the logical and expected outcomes of our education system and our success paradigm.

Expecting anything else is the definition of insanity.

You of course know this, and it deeply upsets you.  You sense that your children are in danger.  But will you act on their behalf proactively?

It’s so easy to look at our cute young children and not see them as rebellious teen agers, or 25 year olds struggling with college debt and career woes, or 30 somethings with marriage and financial problems.

But look around.  Look at your siblings, classmates, and neighbors.  How many of them were ‘reasonably successful in school’?  How many of them maintain the appearance of success every day driving to and from work and practices etc?  

How are their lives really going?

While you’re at it, how is your life really going?

Why can’t we all just be honest and accept where we are, how we got here and what we must do to get to where were truly want to be?

If not for ourselves, than for our children?

It’s safe to say that most of us (and our parents) had no clue how off track our system became.

But can we claim ignorance?

We cannot in good conscience delegate the preparation of our children to a broken definition of success and a broken system for achieving it.

It’s up to us, the parents, to make sure that our children get the training they need to prosper from their unique value and to not become replaceable cogs.

It’s May 2nd and enrollment has reopened for the Vaikido Unschooling Experience.

A growing number of families are finding that the Vaikido Hero Unschool curriculum, approach, and community are exactly what they need as parents to prepare their children for New Economy success.

Make this the month that you begin.

Click here to learn how to enroll.