I learned a couple of things after I published "Part I" of this column last week.
First, is that the defense mechanism of denial is pervasive.
And second: Finland - more on the Nordic country in a bit.
Psychologists tell us that when we are faced with a daunting crisis, whether collective or personal, it is a very human reaction to deny that the emergency exists. Even our government officials are in denial of the education deficit we face. According to them, “We are doing just fine.”
Everyone just keep chanting over-and-over: my child is getting the best education in the world and he/she is the brightest and smartest. Eventually, this becomes true, regardless of reality.
Finland! Yes, Finland.
Last week I mentioned some of the countries that were leaving the U.S. behind when it comes to our kids test scores and graduation rates. For example, the U.S. ranks 15th in reading, 19th in math and 14th in science. In Texas, it gets much worse.
Yet it is Finland that stands out for me.
They have turned their education system into a learning juggernaut – notice I said learning, not test scores. Finnish children flex their cerebral muscles, so to speak, in the classroom and they are outperforming their global school contemporaries in just about every subject and grade level.
So what are we doing wrong? Why are U.S. students falling further behind?
One word: innovation.
Those in charge of education have failed to innovate and this failure has unfortunately trickled down to our students. Education today is about test scores. Memorizing facts to pass a test, is not learning.
What is the solution? While I can spend the next few months writing about how we may fix this crisis on a national level, I want to bring this closer to home and offer some steps that you as a parent can take now to take charge of your child’s education. Unfortunately, we will have to deal with the education hand that has been dealt to our students.
By now it is a cliché: that as a parent, you must get actively and directly involved in your child’s education. Most business leaders and professionals I have spoken to, agree with me that learning and education begins in the home. Consider this your wake up call.
Your child’s teacher is your partner in their education. They are not solely responsible for it. Meet with your teacher partner regularly, get to know them, ask questions and most importantly get ideas from them as to what you can do to support their efforts in the classroom. See them as part of the solution, not the problem.
Have a learning night at home – at least once a week. Turn off all devices – yes that means you, too. Review what they are learning in school and ask them questions. Get to the “why” of what is being taught in the classroom. Instill in them once again, their natural sense of curiosity of why things work.
Talk to other parents. Are they involved in their kids learning? Do they have any insights or information of what is going on in the classroom? If they are close friends, form study groups with their children – make it fun, interesting and challenging.
Find out who are the education leaders and officials in your district or community. Start a dialogue with them and find out what you can do to help them do their job better. They are supposed to be our public servants – it’s time for them to serve – hold them accountable.
Consider these other creative ideas: cut back on band, football and the chess club, their education is more important; do some limited home schooling – give them a book to read or math problem to solve every week; find them a good and trusted tutor in the subject that gives them trouble; join online education forums to get updates and ideas on educating your child.
Yes, education in America looks bleak. Yet you have control and say in your home. You can still have a direct impact and influence over your child’s future. You have to become your child’s “education evangelist.” Give them your vision, hopes and expectations about their educational future and show them what promise they will possess as they become young adults.
Eli is a columnist for TownSquareBuzz.com, a marketer and published author. You may have seen him on the tele or heard him on the radio. Feel free to contact Eli directly via TSB or drop him a note at TheEliHernandez@gmail.com.
UPDATE to my column:
I came across this article on NBCNews.com: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economywatch/employers-may-be-aggravating-skills-gap-1C7450821
I take issue with this statement, among others: "But millions of small- and medium-sized employers, the businesses that create the bulk of new jobs, are apparently unwilling or unable to spend the money to bring new hires up to speed."
Small businesses or any enterprise for that matter should not have to spend more money to make up for the clear failures of a defective education system. Yes, there is a learning curve with any new job, however, the workplace is not an institution of higher learning - businesses should not take the place of colleges and universities.
I once hired a candidate from a very prestigious university in DFW - I'm sure you can figure out which one I am referring to. I was amazed about what this hire did not know, rather than being overwhelmed on what they were taught in university.
This is another example of a flawed education system graduating a future workforce which is clearly not prepared or on par with what employers require in its employees.
Stop blaming enterprise for the failures of an education system that is clearly failing all our students.
What do you think? Do you know a business owner or professional? If so, please pass this on to them. I would like to hear what they have to say.