Friday, August 28, 2009

How Much Will You Owe On Your Future?

Do you buy into the rhetoric that you will make X # dollars more over a lifetime with a college degree? Is that really true today? Maybe it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago, but perhaps that is changing. As a larger percentage of the population obtains four-year degrees, basic economics dictates downward pressure on wages. At the same time, the American Institute for Economic Advancement calculates that college tuition and fees have risen 248.4% since 1990 (from their 2009 Cost-of-Living Guide, which tracks the purchasing power of the dollar).

Some talented filmmakers are documenting the effects of student loan debt, and they deserve support to complete their movie, Default: The Student Loan Documentary. Check it out at

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Howard Gardner Told Me I Have a Gift (We All Do - What is Yours?)

Gardner termed them multiple intelligences, but I prefer the term ability, talent or gift. And whether it came from God or evolution is really irrelevant, but the point is we all have valuable contributions to make as human beings in this world.

In 2006, my daughter entered high school, and I really began to give deep thought to what her post-secondary future would look like. What I discovered alarmed me. I have always encouraged my child to be open-minded, and tried to teach her to think critically, but it appeared that the soft rhetoric of “you must go to college” pushed gently on my generation had erupted into a hard-line, no-other-option available, edict from every adult in the school system. Not just in high school, but from the very first days of kindergarten, all students are being told that they should plan for college. Period. Well, I believe that is fundamentally wrong.

There are actually school personnel, parents, and experts who also disagree with this college-for-all model. But they are often intimidated by their peers, or even worse, directed by their supervisors, to remain silent when they encounter a student who might succeed on another path. I have slowly found a few who are willing to admit it, especially among parents who see their own children's talents, and let love triumph over “teacher knows best” and a one-track system driven by a false edict that true success and happiness is only achievable with a four-year (or more) degree.

Another proponent I admire is the well-known author Charles Murray. In his 2008 book, Real Education, he posits that if we truly encourage students in developing their natural talents, along with some fundamental changes in degree components and other training/certifications, we might actually create a system that is just, fair, and creates an educated populace that adequately serves societal needs.

Why does our society now seem to accept that “everyone should go to college”? When you really stop and ask yourself this question, what do you believe? Could it be that Big Education is reaping financial benefits the likes of which no industry has ever experienced?

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Calliclean Moment

As I've gotten older, I've had the pleasure of reading what I choose as an autodidact. I've begun to notice a definite trend of others acting similarly: seeking and creating their own unique educational paths to acquire skills and knowledge not being offered through the current educational system. I believe educational methodologies are undergoing a radical shift due to technology, and this paradigm will only materialize when a critical mass of consumers abandon and revolt against the outdated approaches now employed.

I've resisted the urge for several years, but now finally found the courage to stand and label myself an activist, with a clarion call for nothing short of revolution. Am I scared? Worried? Yes, of course. I'm petrified. I've never found the courage to stick my neck on the line, but I just can't face myself in the mirror anymore if I don't at least give it my best shot.

So, here goes. . . .I have been dreaming and planning this website and campaign for a long time, and up until now I've always found an excuse to put it off until tomorrow. No more. If you would like to stand with me and advocate for a radical change in the system, I welcome you with open arms. It is my intent that this site serve as a forum to advance the efforts of everyone who asks “How can we do this better?” An entire spectrum of vital issues, from reforming student loan regulations to creating new models for higher education, must be addressed.

Callicles didn't like it when Socrates suggested that he and his fellow sophists might have it backwards: “apparently we are everywhere doing the opposite of what we should.” Big education won't like what we've got to say, either. No one likes to appear foolish, especially the rich and powerful. But perhaps this current system is unjust, and we must rise up and demand our needs are met. Perhaps the future of our society depends on it. Perhaps we are the fools if we do not.