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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Should Education be about preparing for a job or a life?

         I know that most readers would answer the question above with “both.”  While it is widely believed that education has a role in both preparing a person for both a career and life what has always been debated is what proportion of time should be devoted to each aspect.  The thought behind a liberal arts education is to prepare you to be a well rounded individual rather than preparing for a career. 

        While music, the arts and sports, the so-called extra curricula activities, are nice they tend to be dropped in tight budget times in favor of the more traditional classroom instruction in the ol’ “3R’s of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic.” But haven’t always heard that we retain the most what we learn in an experiential setting as opposed to a traditional teacher/student classroom instruction.  It has always seemed to me that the teachers that are praised the most for being effective with their students are the ones that create experiential instruction into their classroom.

            Even more controversial is when schools take on the responsibilities that are seen as the responsibility of parents in such areas as sex education, financial education and moral issues such as honesty, integrity and respect for others.  Is it wrong that schools play a role in these areas when parents many times are negligent to address the issues with their children?

        I again started thinking about this issue after reading an article in the Baltimore Sun the other morning about an educational program for special education students in New Jersey. To quote the article, "The social piece is at least as important as learning to read and do math," said Eugene Porta, a teacher who oversees the nine students running Diamond Enterprises. "We need to help them develop skills to function in the community."
“Tallying up orders and making sales for Diamond Enterprises instills business acumen, but a more valuable lesson also may be the teamwork and interaction that most workplaces require but is often absent from the lives of disabled students.”
"We really try very hard to make what's out there in the working world come into the classroom," Porta said. "If it doesn't lead to a job, then at least it will mean gaining independence. We want them to be accepted by people in the community."

  This model has been the basis of one local program—Junior Achievement of Central Maryland.  While most of us think of Junior Achievement (JA) as being about teaching entrepreneurial skills JA is as much about teaching young persons how to think independently and to be self reliant.  This is especially important for youth that may have limited job opportunities.  Job and life skills are combined in a hands on environment.  The Finance Park program “enables students to build foundations for making intelligent lifelong personal finance decisions, in a program correlated to Maryland Skills Standards for 8th and 9th grades. In 19 teacher-led lessons, combined with a 4.5 hour simulation, students learn about the many pieces of a personal budget, such as rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, savings, entertainment, groceries, and more! As students strive to create a balanced budget, they begin to understand the value of money, and make the connection between hard work, education, and their future earnings.

As Ben Franklin stated “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

If you didn’t see yesterday’s blog with the Founding Fathers quiz you might want to look at it before finding out the answers below.   Scroll down.

1)      George Washington and Alexander Hamilton didn’t sign the Declaration
2)      John Adams was the only Federalist President.  George Washington didn’t run under any party.
3)      The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey and Hamilton was killed
4)      False.  He signed the Declaration not the Constitution
5)      John Adams also died on July 4, 1836.
6)      John Adams didn’t sign the Constitution
7)      The document was signed by most of the signers on August 2.
8)      First read publicly on July 8th
9)      George Washinton’s birthday in 1846 the crack first appeared
10)   Rodger Sherman is the only signer of all three documents
11)   False.  George Washington was the first President under the Constitution but after declaring its independence the United States had a government under the Articles of Confederation starting in 1781 and John Hanson was elected the first President of the United States under the Articles.


automotive service technician said...

I think education is for life not for job. Education is teach you how to live life. Amazing article !

Anonymous said...

Sorry man, but John Hanson was the President of the Continental Congress. Not the President of the United States.

duanestclair said...

With a little more research I stand corrected. has a good explanation of this issue.

Mo said...

Interesting post! In a way, the "job" vs. "life" is becoming the same thing as it becomes more common (I think, I'm not going stat-diving for this one) for people to change jobs/careers/etc. Education should be about equipping people with the skills to do a job - that is, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, etc. Life skills like money management are just as important.

As for things like sex education and moral lessons... I don't know, I might feel differently as a parent, but don't kids learn a lot about social/moral interactions just by being in school? If that same environment can offer a structured, positive program, so much the better - although it shouldn't take the place of parent guidance in that sort of thing. But I can see where that might get difficult.