President-elect Obama has stated his intention to stimulate the economy by creating jobs improving education, transportation infrastructure, and health care.
I heartily agree with those areas to focus upon, but the vision of each may need to be adjusted according to what the desired and successful end result of each looks like.
For example, what does being educated look like? Does it mean being able to read and write? Understand mathematics and science? Speak a foreign language? Would those by themselves enable American youth and young adults to compete successfully with their peers around the world? Maybe so… but maybe not.
I would submit a slightly different and additional goal, especially with regard to how older workers in their forties and older are now having to “learn new tricks” to stay employable. Let’s make the goal of education that every American at age 18 if they don’t attend college and age 22 if do, be teachable and trainable. More than that, let’s make the educational process something where they want to learn more at those ages and to continue to learn past them. Have them develop the mindset to accept, embrace and look forward to lifelong learning.
That would be in stark contrast with an all too common mindset of many young and older Americans which is to hate reading, thinking, learning and the all too common tendency to quit or bail when subject matter becomes challenging, not easily mastered.
Jack Welch said: “I avoided the Internet, because I couldn’t type.” Too many Americans avoid becoming educated (even if they “passively” and reluctantly attend classes), because they can’t stand reading, thinking and learning when it stops being fun. And how can education compete with the fun of video games, face book, shopping? In essence how can becoming more competent and capable compete with having or doing things just for the sake of a distraction?
America’s greatest challenge if it is to compete successfully with the youth and young adults of the rest of the world is to enjoy learning as opposed to viewing it as a burden and hoping to never have to do it again once they graduate high school or college.
*Future blogs will cover the challenges of defining what greater infrastructure and health care looks like.