Sunday, July 02, 2017

Kim Frencken: The value of education

Is education truly valued?

 I'm not so sure that education is a valued commodity. In cultures, other than the U.S., education is valued. It must be earned. Failing to do so is an embarrassment. Here, and I'm sure in other places, failure is someone else's fault. Responsibility and Accountability have been replaced with Entitlement and Enabling. "Please help me" has been replaced with "Do it for me." 

 I don't operate that way. I worked long, hard hours to earn my degrees. Granted my freshman year in college was quite an adjustment (to say the least), but after that year I realized that I was ashamed of failure- still am. I wanted to achieve. I wanted to do well. I didn't want to disappoint my parents or shame them. I knew if I failed that it was my fault. I had no one else to blame. Consequently, the education I earned was my education. No one could, or can, steal it from me.

I am so privileged every time I work with a student who takes pride in their work and wants to achieve. Someone who wants to complete public school and attend college. Someone who understands that an education will open doors for them. Let me rephrase that last comment. Education will open doors for you if you have the initiative to knock. No one is going to beat down your door because you aced the physics test. No one is going to ring your doorbell because your instructor said that you had potential. Everyone has potential. To do something.

I had an interesting conversation with someone this week. Someone who stressed that they weren't afraid of work and realized that while they were in college they couldn't be picky. Their job choices were limited because of their school hours, but working was important because they would be networking with others and, hopefully, opening doors in preparation for graduation. Smart thinking! I did the same (not that I thought I doing the smart thing. I needed to work, so I worked). While I was in college I worked on campus and during summers off I worked at a job in the field in which I planned to make my career. I was a reliable and dedicated employee which earned a recommendation for my first job. I appreciated my manager providing such a valuable reference. Without my work history and my manager's reference, I wouldn't have landed such an awesome job right out of college. It took both my degree to qualify me and my work ethics to speak for me.

There is something to be said for work. Hard, honest work. Being dedicated and motivated. Add those qualities to an employee with an education and you have a keeper. Notice the combination. Experience + Education. Nothing is more frustrating to me than to hear a student talk about the high level job they are going to get as soon as they graduate. No entry level job for them! Then, when it doesn't happen, they are disappointed and think that an education isn't important and the college failed them. Well, no one failed them. They failed themselves by believing the lie. You have to demonstrate that you can put your book knowledge to work. Show those skills. Being book smart can't replace common sense or self-motivation. Put your education to work.

As educators, we want education and ourselves to be respected and valued. We can help our 'cause' by educating our students in real-world thinking. First, no one is going to give you anything. You need to earn it. And, let's use that term. Earn. We don't give our students an education, nor do we give them grades. They must earn them. Secondly, it is up to the student to use their education. There are no limits. Only the boundaries they place on themselves. A diploma sitting on a shelf won't do much good. Dust it off. Discover your potential.

So... is an education valuable? I think that it is the most valuable thing you can provide for yourself. But, don't provide the education without the experience or the willingness to use it. An education is only as good as the person who applies what they know.

(Kim Frencken is a former Joplin R-8 teacher and her writing can be found at her blog, Chocolate for the Teacher.)

1 comment:

ozarkteller said...

Excellent "read," Ms. Frencken. Spot on.