I found my passion for a nameless body of knowledge when I was a young girl about 11 or 12 years old. I tried my best to make sense of the world and to meet the expectations set before me in school and in career exploration. I quickly learned people with a great deal of knowledge, skill, and desirable traits got what they wanted out of life. I panicked. At times, I stumbled along in life feeling I was trailing behind, until I found the key.
In my youth, I neither possessed the tools, or skills to uncover the knowledge required to do what interested me. It’s impossible to know what you DON’T know. So, I didn’t have a clue who, or how to ask, research, discover, or design. Unfortunately, conventional education failed miserably at providing me with the RIGHT basic skill set and tool box to achieve the kind of success I envisioned for myself.
Traditional school teaching methods are geared to a behavioral model which completely ignores the innate intelligence of the individuals being instructed. It fails to allow thinking, progress or connections made beyond the discussion topic. When students are limited to a framed subject without the freedom to explore, it impedes learning.
Schools constantly teach irrelevant topics due to a condition I call teacher lag. The instructor is limited to a prescribed set of topics or material. Then, the students must learn and be able to regurgitate the information, on demand, at a future appointed time. Students are not allowed to veer off subject! Administrators, faculty, and parents are only concerned with PAPER. How much, how little, what grade, and never the relevance.
By the time it is approved, and the teacher is comfortable teaching the material, it is almost obsolete. These parameters are so difficult to set up, teachers will go years making little changes for fear of disrupting their peer evaluations, or classroom effectiveness. To be effective, teaching can be guided, but it must be fluid. Therefore, the SYSTEM is flawed, not the teachers.
Until the 4th Grade, I was moved frequently, which did not permit time to bond with teachers, students, my environment, or my course of study. Other childhood trauma, challenges and very little educational oversight or involvement by my parents further complicated my progress. My home life lacked structure and focus, my family dynamics were fundamentally complicated. Everyone has baggage, right?
My Mother and Step-Mother
I was frustrated to learn, SURPRISE, my parents did NOT know everything! My mother and step-mother both had an 8th grade formal education and very little idea how to help design their daughter’s path to achievement. I’m not even sure my mother realized she possessed knowledge and skills she would unknowingly impart. She learned a great deal through the generations of female business owners within my family. Both my mother and step-mother were tough, hard working women with no basis to understand the value of technology beyond the TV remote.
One day my mother and I put together a new appliance for our home. Pouring over the owner’s manual, I remember turning to her asking, “Where is the owner’s manual for this life you gave me?” She laughed with such conviction, I realized she too must have confronted the same question in her life. To me, it wasn’t a joke. Again, no answers, and GOOGLE was NOT an option.
My Father (A Life Unfolded)
My father came from a family of farmers, generations deep. He graduated from high school and wanted to attend college, but the family farm came first. His reason, according to him, he “liked to eat, and preferably, daily.” No shortage of humor and sarcasm in my father’s household!
He later joined the Navy, and after serving during WWII, returned to the states becoming a salesman, and later, an Insurance Adjuster. Who in the heck decides they want to be an Insurance Adjuster when they are envisioning their future? I guarantee, NOT one!
Like most people with only general education from high school, he “stirred the pot to see what might surface.” Sufficient planning to facilitate the opportunity geared to his passions in engineering and product design wasn’t a possibility due to circumstance. Seemingly out of reach, he resorted to a job over his passion.
I was very worried about what it all meant. How do I put this life together, and manage it? What’s the recipe? Will someone with some knowledge give me a clue, PLEASE?
Our Problems are Universal!
When contemplating my future path, like most individuals, I failed to plan for unseen cycles, forces of nature, social discord, and of course Murphy’s Law. Such as life! It’s ever evolving facets changing at different, yet converging levels. Eventually, it thrusts every adult into various unsolicited intervals of uncertainty and pain from which we are told we must manage and grow. My ever present question still remained unanswered.
When I became a parent, I found out there is NO ORGANIZED METHOD OF TEACHING, nor is there a general reference teaching how to put learning theory to work in the classroom! BING! Are you kidding me? NOBODY KNEW THE BEST WAY TO STRING THIS THING TOGETHER? The light bulb switched on over my head, and I decided to educate my children at home. If I could fall through the cracks, I will be damned if I am going to let it happen to my babies.
A Not So Drastic Solution
Knowing the serious void that exists in our system of education in this country, I was determined to make a difference for my children. Oh, my goodness! Me? A teacher? At first, I was nervous! Would the youth entrusted to me through co-ops, workshops, independent and group projects, coaching, and structured coursework receive everything they would need to carry them where they wanted to go in life? Would I also fail to give them the skills they would need to get into college and beyond?
My answer didn’t come until both my youngest and my oldest tested into required college-level major courses at 15 and 16 years of age. Other students receiving my instruction through various organized and social connections called to thank me for the skills that prepared them for college and the workforce. Did I finally crack “the code?”
Until I began my journey as an educator, my brain worked off of patterns. Seeing patterns in people’s lives made life make sense to me. Then it occurred to me! The reason most folk don’t find the answers they seek is due to their narrowly imparted and self-limiting view of their world.
Granted, humans need a measurable level of certainty in an uncertain world. The world is riddled with changing circumstances, expectations, limited availability or accessibility. Of course, the issues related to juggling socio-economic, and discrimination factors which manifest differently at each stage in life guarantees continuous challenges. How does someone without the right tools, manage?
A Valid Reason For Teen Behavior?
I attribute the feelings of confusion and helplessness to most, if not all, teenagers through young adult age. Truly this feeling can surface at any time in a person’s life when forced to deal with life-changing alterations to their status quo. Many adults eventually develop a way to manage their feelings. Naturally, they never completely escape the resulting outcomes.
I have determined the lack of knowledge and tools to be the cause of angst and rebellion at any age! We are trained from school age through college level that our plans for the day will be laid out before us and we are not required to think about designing our day’s work goals for ourselves. So, as we age, we expect the universe will just deal us whatever is intended to be ours by happenstance!
A Startling Revelation
In preparation for a speaking event, I went into a bookstore to see what sort of reading material was available to youth. I took photos because I was enraged to find we are setting our youth up to fail! As parents and society, we present youth with a life of fantasy. We show that we value fiction over actual history, and fantasy over valuable reference. Are we contributing to our children’s failures?
Today’s parents value peace and quiet, and so appease their children under the guise of love, no matter the damage. They turn to the cheapest and ever available babysitter, TV and video games to pacify their precious little gifts. They fail to instill a proper work ethic and sense of accomplishment as worthy goals. They atone for their own shortcomings with conveniently repeated measures. Then wonder why their prodigy never ventures too far from the sofa.
There I was, staring down the only 3 aisles of books reserved for “teens” and only one column within the entire teen section was non-fiction. Think about this for a minute. Our kids are led around BY THE NOSE, BY ADULTS pretty much 14 hours a day for the first 18, or more, years of their life!
I completely understand, most parents are too busy attempting to navigate their own rabbit holes. Many times it is the result of our own selfishness and exhaustion. It is brought on by our own personal unending war with invisible adversities and the wear and tear from the constant tide of overlapping responsibilities.
Parents whisper to themselves, “anything to keep he/she/them quiet! Anything to be SURE he/she/they are safe and not creating another bill we cannot afford on top of the other bills we struggle to pay!”
In the same damaging stroke, teachers assign our kids an insurmountable heap of mostly irrelevant, trivial, or soon to be obsolete information which fails to provide experiential learning which is known to be the most influential type of learning. Once again, the focus for adults is in keeping teens busy and out of trouble instead of oriented toward personal development and relevant interest based projects geared toward productive outcomes.
Instead, a measure of general knowledge to hold educators accountable in some way is the goal. Bogging down teens with reading authored by educators for the purpose of teaching general topics. YAWN! Similarly, teachers are looking to free up their time to navigate their own challenges at work and home.
Parents are not given any credit or confidence to educate on our own because they lack the “credentials,” so they don’t even try. Not knowing anything different, we hand our pride and joys the latest fantasy in the form of books. We think, thank GOD he or she is reading! The newest movies and music provide the only conduit. So, youth use available coping mechanisms to fight feelings caused by an elusive enemy.
Society has come to expect our teenagers to develop a craving to escape their dismay using many of the same vices they witness adults exploit. Due to their sixth sense for the impending doom, they fight, or so it seems.
Teens are not quite sure what they are grappling with, but they are very aware of the invisible force that will soon be thrust upon them. Then, BOOM! We throw them to the wolves and expect them to be completely knowledgeable, self-sufficient, and financially independent.
Don’t get me wrong, teens do realize we are giving them SOME of what they will need. They are forced to put the pieces together simultaneously feeling around in the dark to figure out EXACTLY what is missing. By osmosis they are to find out where and how to get it! OUR BAD!
I have asked other teaching professionals why the voids exist and they are baffled. Why do you ask? Teachers are taught only to teach the esoteric skills, theoretical, and conceptual material having little to do with REAL life applications today.
They are required to teach with little flexibility granted to engage in practical applications addressing individualized student interests. LITERALLY! They are not given the chance to challenge their students with questions, but are required to shovel the information in as fast as students can regurgitate it.
At certain points in our life after we slowly managed to stumble into some organized pattern of existence where we are making ends meet, or NOT, and we determine we are okay, we are soon thrust into change with NO CLUE where the drawing board IS let alone how to engage in the figurative stumble once again.
From my complete dissatisfaction with this “Frankensteined” system, I created an independent learning curriculum and coaching platform. It is designed to be applied to any theory-based education conceived to date.
My goal was to provide the benefit of a truly meaningful, practical, independent learning experience. I realized early on was the key to actual learning and retention. They would learn practical skills, knowledge and build favorable traits along the way.
Finally! I was confident that I stumbled across the key while turning over every stone in an effort to be thorough as I ventured outside the status quo to reach my goals, but how could I tell it was effective?
Human and business development would later surface as my education and independent research interest. Consequently, most individuals don’t always find or accept help looking for that deep seeded interest. It has to surface. The problem, many can’t recognize it on their own, reject or ignore the obvious.
My experience comes from educating children through young adults for over 20+ years.
- B.S. Business Administration
- A.A. Liberal Arts – concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences
- A.S. Paralegal Studies
- A.A. Administration of Justice