Educating Our Youth

At a recent meeting of the Future Business Leaders of America Advisory Council, I heard some interesting, or should I say, disturbing comments. At least they were to me. We were discussing the need for a new program in high school education titled “Business Operations Support and Assistant Services. This program focused specifically on office support staff (or, using their words, telephone operator, order clerks, file clerks and receptionists). Now I ask you, when did you last hear of a job title Telephone Operator?

As the discussion progressed, it became evident that this proposed new program was almost identical to one currently titled “Business Management and Administrative Services.” When asked about the redundancy, we were told that this was what the business community perceived as a need. Further discussion led me to believe that this new program would be lowering, not raising, the bar set for support staff. Is this just another method of justifying lower wages, or is it honestly meeting the needs of the business community?

We went on to discuss what incentives could be given to encourage students to take this proposed new educational program. My question (along with several others in the room) was this: Since when do we feel the need to incentivize learning? Should that not be a goal unto itself? Should our students of today not aspire to graduate being job ready? Post-secondary education has become financially out of reach to an increasing number of families, and graduating students in the near future will face an ever-increasing need to find employment.

The challenge of parents

Parents of today face the challenge of actually being parents to their children. A good portion of the youth of today are placed in K-12 schools with the expectation that the faculty will become not only teachers, but parents, career counselors, and yes, even babysitters. If we placed more importance on the parents teaching basic principles and values to their children, would they not have a better chance of success once they enter the real world? The world of earning a living; of being productive members of society; of acceptance of responsibility.

Incentivized learning is somewhat disturbing (at least to me), when pondering the future of our country and our world. Aspiration to greater heights should be ingrained into our children from the day they are born. Those aspired-to heights are attainable only through education and hard work – not incentives. Therefore, the goal is to learn as much as possible to prepare themselves for the road ahead. Our new president is a perfect example of what can be accomplished. Not once have I heard President Obama speak of being offered incentives to continue his education; to reach his goals.

When did we become a nation of entitlements? A nation of people who firmly believe that someone else will take care of us if we can’t or won’t. I am self-employed, and that role has not been an easy one. It has come with adversity, challenges and a lot of many, many hours of work. I neither expect, nor will I ask, someone else to bail me out. It is my responsibility to either make it or not, and the blame rests only with me if I am not successful.

Time to get back to basics

Did that idea of work ethic come to me through osmosis? Absolutely not! My parents started out as poor, hard-working Kansas farmers. They knew the value of a dollar and the work it took to make that dollar. And, they were not ever shy when teaching me those same principles.

Let’s get back to the basic principles that made this nation great. Let’s accept responsibility not only for ourselves, but for our children. Teach them that they are being given the opportunity for an education that many on this planet can only dream of. It is up to them to make the most of it. And no, they won’t get a gold star if they don’t live up to expectations. There will be no incentives, awards, or pats on the back for accepting the challenge to be all you that can be.

Linda S. Thompson is founder and president of Life Path Solutions, who specializes in helping you understand, work, and live with those around you. She is the author of Every Generation Needs a New Revolution. Linda is available to speak on various topics about the generations and can be contacted through her website. For more information about Linda’s books, Workshops in a Box, and lecture topics, along with other free articles, please visit her website at http://LifePathSolutions.biz/.

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