“Nasreddin had a leaky ferry-boat, and used it to row people across the river. One day his passenger was a fussy schoolteacher, and on the way across he decided to give Nasreddin a test and see how much he knew.
“Tell me, Nasreddin, what are eight sixes?”
“I’ve no idea.”
“How do you spell magnificence?”
“Didn’t you study anything at school?”
“In that case, half your life is lost.”
Just then a fierce storm blew up, and the boat began to sink.
“Tell me, schoolteacher,” said Nasreddin. “Did you ever learn to swim?”
“In that case, your whole life is lost.”
Hmmm. Makes me wonder about that school teacher. Education matters, only the question becomes what kind of education? In the case of the school teacher all his feelings regarding the value of education made not a spot of difference if the boat was sinking. Right? Because he never “learned” to swim. I guess if you are lost in the woods you want to be with the Eagle Scout not the French teacher. Of course if you were with the Eagle Scout you wouldn’t be lost in the first place!
Now let me say right up front, outside of my own education which is a BA is Public Relations/History, I don’t have offspring in which to really have an opinion on this other than my own observations. Do I understand the real world? I think I do, maybe more than you think. I have what is called “Street smarts” or common sense. It has served me well over the years. Maybe you would say I am “intuitive.”
I had dinner with a dear friend of mine Bill in Atlanta a couple weeks ago. Now Bill and I could not be further apart when it comes to our political leanings, me to the left he to the right. We have intense discussions but we do seem to leave the room friends. Bill is a very intelligent man indeed and I have great respect for his accomplishments both his past and current projects.
We found common ground recently on education. We both agree that education helps people advance. We were discussing the case of the poor and disenfranchised. We felt that the home environment in many situations is not good. Therefore, it is not conducive to encouraging a child to make something of themselves. I believe it would be hard to do if your personal experience as a parent was a tenth grade education with no direction from an adult. Wouldn’t quite be in your wheelhouse to direct someone else. It’s hard to council on something that is completely foreign to you. Bill and I talked about how do we address this? Government, or social contracts with organizations?
We both feel with proper mentorship, even kids in the disenfranchised neighborhoods have an opportunity to stay engaged, motivated and become a self sufficient human beings. Isn’t that what we all want? To be able to function in society without leaning “on the man?”
Being able to take care of ourselves and our families with the knowledge that we have done so? The conversation went further in how we as a country could support this effort and we came up with a few ideas and then called it a night. We parted as friends. Don’t you love dinners like that? When you talk about things so stimulating that you go home, they resonate and stew awhile in your mind? I so appreciate friends like Bill.
We didn’t necessarily discuss the education you may be thinking of, but the education that says “not everyone needs to go to college.” Wow. When is the last time you heard someone say that?
The conversation stayed with me. Because really, think about it, not everyone needs to go to college.
I started thinking about my garbage men. Did they go to college? What would it be like if everyone had a college degree and no one wanted to pick up garbage? Like this garbage strike in NYC?
Or perhaps this one?
Yeah, I think we want people to pick up our garbage. Go two weeks without garbage, recycling and yard debris pick up and see how much you value the people who pick it up. It’s gives a whole new meaning to appreciation when you really think about it.
I learned a very important thing among many, from my friend, you ALWAYS tip the garbage men at Christmas. They will pick up everything you put out there if you show respect. When I walk my dog past the garbage men, when I drive by, it’s a huge high hand in the air showing my appreciation for that dirty job they do every day. They are freedom riders on the back of those trucks hanging on with one hand but a simple hello and I appreciate you matters to them. They high hand it back at you and they remember who you are.
Let’s move to plumbers. Now when I young there were two course directions in my high school. College and Vo-tech. There wasn’t an AP where you can earn a 4.75 and be a sophomore by the time you get to college. Some of those Vo-tech folks are making the dime now with their plumbing businesses. Just think for a minute when your toilet overflows. Uh huh.
Do you get on-line to see how you can fix it yourself? Oh no you do not! You are putting a P1 call out to your plumber to get his butt over to your house to fix the toilet. I mean your in-laws are coming tomorrow for the 4th of July—you follow me? Thank God for plumbers. Maybe they went to college maybe they didn’t. If they did they are the exception to the rule. My plumber Russell makes a pot load of money. He is a man of integrity and a plumber who can fix anything with his eyes closed. He has a skill set second to none. I would leave him in my house alone for the weekend to do work that’s how much I trust that man. I can’t say that about just anyone.
The plumber finally leaves and you go to bed with visions of brown sugar turds in your head. Suddenly, it feels very warm in your room. What’s up with that? You start to sweat, you wonder am I ill? Then you realize its 90+ degrees in GA in July and your AC is out! Holy #$@*!
Are you kidding me? You get up make your second P1 call to the HVAC dude. You have a $20.00 bill in your pocket to tip him and a bottle of vodka for his wife. After all he came over at 1:00 in the morning because…uh, your in-laws are still coming the next day.
You feeling me?
Let’s go to the neurosurgeon type person. Here is the back story. You have a headache, it doesn’t go away. Weeks pass, months pass you finally see a doctor. You get an MRI they send you to a neurosurgeon. You have a Geoblastomia. The deadly one. You need surgery. Do you call the plumber or the HVAC guy? No, you call Duke University and you go see the Doc who has 20 symbols behind his name and is published in 30 medical journals. I want him to be the smartest guy in the room. I want him/her to have operated on celebrities, athletes and CEOs. Then he gets to operate on me. I am loving his kind of education.
And when surgery doesn’t work out so well you again want the guy at Duke. You know, the guy who found a way to genetically modify the polio virus and insert it directly into the tumor and it kills the tumor? Again, I want the smartest guy in the room. Do I hear a yes? I think so.
When I owe the IRS 20K and don’t know what to do? I want my CPA Celia, to hold my hand and FIX IT! I am valuing her education.
When my neck is out I want my Atlas doc and my Physical Therapist to say "We got this" both need years of continuing education. I value their education and commitment to their skill set.
My point is the gamut of education is wide depending on the needs of our society. I am saying “All” are needed and all need to be appreciated with equal gratitude. I value the choices people make to do the best they can to capitalize on their skill sets. If the disenfranchised need help with direction let’s help them and offer choices for training. There has to be a way to have everyone be a valued contributor to our society.
That is what Bill and I talked about. We all need each other, whether it’s the tree guy, military personel, window washer, neurosurgeon, CPA, sales rep (me), innovator, teacher, policeman, fire chief, EMT, nurses, hospice workers, plumbers, garbage people, administrators, delivery folks and government workers including our senators, representatives and POTUS. We all have our gifts. Maybe education is really about the matching of those gifts with what’s needed in order to be productive.
On this 4th of July let’s be appreciative of our various levels of “education.” Be thankful that we are all spokes in the wheel of what makes our country great. Be grateful for each other and celebrate each other's talents. Remember we have the freedom in this country to make choices in regard to our education and “what we do for a living.” Some people don’t.
My ending thoughts on education:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Until next time.