Thursday, October 19, 2006

Recipe for Success

For its inaugural day, asked five prominent Americans what they believe to be the most ignored issue by mainstream Media and National Leaders. I’ve read with interest the various responses to this question , and their responses are dead-on target. Healthcare, poverty, the war, the economy, American youth—all are important concerns of our society.

I don’t think any of these have necessarily been ignored as much as they have been painted for a specific purpose: by the media to gain market share, and by national leadership to gain leverage over opponents.

Ignoring an issue is quite different from only partially addressing it, or taking on a problem with a pre-conceived outcome in mind. I believe that the cure to all of these ills, real and perceived, can be found in the educational process.

We have taught three generations to be dependant upon the government for their needs, instead of how to wean themselves from entitlements. We have taught our children that a quick, microwaved meal is all we need to fuel our bodies, and given short shrift to nutritional values (I believe America is being Happy-Mealed to death.)

We have matriculated functional illiterates who can neither read nor balance a checkbook because we were too worried we’d warp their self esteem. And we are reaping the whirlwind in the middle east (and other troubled spots in the world) because we ignored the lessons of history.

It’s cleverly labeled (“No Child Left Behind”) but critically under-funded. Why are teachers paid much less than pro athletes, for example; which group of role models more profoundly molds the character of our Youth?

It’s all about achievement test scores for school districts, but not about the common sense of living life, and what is really needed to prepare our Youth for the real world. As a clue to how misplaced this priority is, notice the increase incidents of school districts who’ve had to dismiss educators for fudging the test scores so their programs would appear more effective.

Sure, it’s in the media, and it’s a prominent plank in every politician’s platform. It’s hardly been ignored—but it certainly has not been injected with the octane to effectively pull people out of poverty, feed their brain as well as their body, and prepare us to compete effectively, economically with our peers on other continents.

They gave the Nobel Peace Price this year to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, which distributed micro loans in Bangladesh so that otherwise impoverished people could pull themselves up a notch on the economic ladder by learning and doing for themselves.

Teaching others how to help themselves...there’s a huge message there that should not be missed.

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