Thank God Failure was an Option for Thomas Edison!

Again, the purpose / focus of my blog is:  EDUCATION & FAMILY.  Being a fifty-year-old Caucasian man; happily married to Diana (since March 30, 1991); Christian; personally conservative (do my best to work with folks who are liberal; DO NOT BELIEVE / SUPPORT THEOCRACY OR RELIGIOUS DOGMA RUNNING OUR GOVERNMENT); a musician; high school music teacher since July 3, 1989 … I certainly an becoming a minority in education.  I do think that it is important for you to understand who is sharing these ideas with you.

This article INFURIATES me.

I began teaching high school July 3, 1989.  I was 23 years-old.  At that school, we had an incredible wood shop; metal shop; and even an auto shop.  College?  University?  Sure, those were options as well, but they were optionS.  Now, I am working at a school with no woodshop; no metal shop, and of course, no auto shop.  Nothing to get the students’ hands dirty.  Heaven forbid.  “We” (really – educational leaders being driven by influential / “powerful” parents) have limited the students to choices from wood or metal or auto to … engineering or bio-med or something that seems to be “prestigious.”

 “Failure is not an option.  You will pass.  You will Learn. You will succeed.”  Cool message amongst the rainbows and unicorn filled utopia.  However, sure does put an amazing level of stress on the teachers (AND STUDENTS!!!!!).  Because when the student does fail, you “the teacher” will be “the” reason!  Oppose to the student and his/her parents (caretakers) playing any role in the student’s failure.  I do think that the educational leaders and HELICOPTER PARENTS should ADD to that “powerful” (cough – cough) message:  AT ALL COSTS, INCLUDING CHEATING; SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION; TAKING MEDICATION; AND LIVING A MISERABLE LIFE.  Failure is okay!  We need to encourage the students to know that failure is an option and a way to learn!  How many times did Edison FAIL before the light bulb was created?  So, wasn’t failure an option?  My goodness this “powerful message” I believe actually sucks the power out of the student.  Once he/she stars failing, now what happens?  Children read / hear things with a sense of being LITERAL!  When you (educational leaders / helicopter parents) are limiting VOCATIONAL EDUCATION to now the only “legitimate” option being college, what do you expect?  Seriously.  College and Career.  Cute.  But, my goodness…Vocational education is being taken away from students and it will be a matter of time when the arts will also be taken away from the students.  Know that we are becoming more and more like Europe.  Music is an “extra-curricular” activity in many European nations, amongst the other arts.

According to exams measuring a students readiness for college, ten-percent of these Berea students were ready for college?  But, yet those say students, eighty-percent of them have graduated from high school?  Not only did this happen in Berea, it is a pattern through other districts across the nation.  We are setting-up our children to fail in college.  I see more students return home early from their four-year university, in part, because those students were not ready for college.  Sure, they have their high school diploma, but being ready for college is so much more than passing classes.  “This (number of high school diplomas increase – number of students who are academic readiness for college or jobs lowered) has led educators to question the real value of a high school diploma and whether graduation requirements are too easy.”  Sure… because the job is NOT TO FAIL!  Remember:  FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.  We have had to “dumb-down” the graduation requirements to avoid failure.

But “the goal is not just high school graduation,” Arne Duncan, the departing secretary of education, said in a telephone interview. “The goal is being truly college and career ready.”  The students are not “truly college and career ready.”  When a student is in jeopardy of failure, what happens?  Usually, the parents defend their children and their (parents) job in raising their child.  By the time the failure is noticed it is almost too late to fix it.  All of the parties are in denial and begin to finger-point.  More times than not, the system finds a way to get that student a high school diploma.  “If you look at what a graduation diploma guarantees today,” said Pamela P. Lackey, the president of AT&T South Carolina, “the issue is we have a system of education that prepares them for a different type of work than we have as a reality today.”  Really?  As mentioned earlier, I see more and more high schools getting rid of metal; auto; wood shops.  Those are menial jobs.  Who would do anything in industries where again “Little Johnny” is going to get his hands dirty? But, the president of AT&T South Carolina is saying this (systems of education that prepares them for a different type of work than we have as a reality today) is an issue.  We have put all our eggs in a basket:  COLLEGE.  Please.  College and Career.  Only if the career is “clean.”  Only if the career is “prestigious.”  Not everyone in an affluent area is going to have a “clean-hands-career.”

“Students and their families rely on and trust the high school diploma as a signal of readiness,” said Alissa Peltzman, the vice president of state policy at Achieve, a nonprofit that performed the study. “It needs to mean something. Otherwise, it’s a false promise for thousands of students.”  The “age” of “Everyone-Wins-a-Trophy” has crept into education.  The diploma is now given to all of you (students)  because all of you (students) are winners!  We have set-up MANY of these students with a false promise.  We need to do what we can to promote the “after-life” for high school.  I would rather be slapped by a friend (or someone who cares about me / for me) than kissed by the enemy.  These “false diplomas” are the kisses of the enemy:  apathy!!

So, here is my solution:

Following high school, in addition to the choice to attend a four-year college / university, you (high school graduate) have three choices:

  • two years in the Peace Corps or
  • two years in the military or
  • two years in a trade school to earn a certificate in a trade of the student’s choice.

Guess what?  I would be more than happy to have those “two-year” choices be supported by my taxes.  In this 2016 presidential election, we are hearing “free education.”  By the way, those “two-year” options – THOSE STUDENTS ARE WORKING!  THEY ARE EARNING A LIVING BY BEING IN THE “PEACE CORPS” or SERVING IN THE MILITARY or TRADE SCHOOL WHERE THEY MAKE THINGS / MAINTAIN THINGS.  They are WORKING / EARNING MY TAX DOLLARS!  Nothing is free, but the failure of these students — or — our lie that their high school diploma has prepared them for a “productive future” — is going to cost our nation more!!  These students need to be ready to support their future families / our nation.  The four-year college student?  I would like to minimize the government’s support for those students.  Pell Grants and such = Fine.  But, between my “two-year” solution and students going into “four-year” colleges?  I want the students to have a job.  Bring back vocation education.

When we put failure in its proper perspective, our students can handle failure.  All of us fail, as soon as we see the student start to fail:  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TO STAY IN SCHOOL AND THEN, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO FOLLOWING YOUR FINAL DAY OUT OUR SCHOOL?  Then, set that student on a path.  Get those options set-up and get that student on that path.  I would rather tell the students the truth; their diploma represents the truth; and encourage them to enjoy whatever profession they choose.  School isn’t for everyone, but a job…a job gives a sense of purpose.  People want jobs, and in most cases, a job means more than a high school diploma that was not truly earned.

2 thoughts on “Thank God Failure was an Option for Thomas Edison!”

  1. I perused your wonderful blog for an hour… amazed and a little surprised at the lack of readership. I think there is a lot of great content here that more students/parents/people should know about.

    1. Wow!! I am extremely touched. Every “movement” starts with a first step. Maybe you are the first step. I don’t know who you are. I do recognize the other names. “A Student” is unrecognizable. So you may very well be my first “unknown” person. However, if you are someone who knows me… THANK YOU! I would love to see my offerings “touch” more people. We all have a story and thoughts to share. I really want to make a positive impact on the world. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
      i am sorry for my delayed response. I AM STILL LEARNING HOW TO BE A “BLOGGER.”

      Lots of love to you.

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