Valid email addresses are required to post comments. If your comment is not posted, I will send you an email with an explanation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You're Sitting On Your Ticket!

Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite authors. He has written a number of books, chief among them, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, that offer insightful perspectives on normal experiences. His wry comments prove to be thought provoking and affirming. One such personal essay reflected on an experience Fulghum had while sitting at an airport terminal waiting to board a plane. As he sat there he noticed a young woman slowly grow agitated and distraught while pouring through her purse and other belongings. She suddenly stopped what she was doing and eventually erupted in tears. He went over to her to offer help and discovered that she had misplaced her airline ticket and boarding pass. In between sobs of anguish she exclaimed that she had searched everywhere for no avail. She was hopeless and helpless. Fulghum encouraged her to get up and go get a drink of water to refresh herself and calm down. As she rose from the seat and stood up, Fulghum solved her problem. She had been sitting on her ticket all the while she was crying and rummaging through her purse and carry-on case.

Fulghum used this personal experience to create a "moral to the story." He suggested that too many of us sit and complain about things and about where we're going in life when the solutions to our worries often start with getting up off our backsides and looking where we haven't looked, or thinking about what we haven't already thought.

I will now volunteer an embarrassing admission of similar proportions to the lady at the airport. I have been struggling for a while this evening in search of something worth writing and sharing with others via this Blog. I started down several different paths and soon realized I didn't enjoy the view or wouldn't like where it all ended. I was frustrated. At that point, my wife pointed out that our furnace was apparently not working and the temperature in the house was now 62 degrees. We recently bought a charming but old Dutch colonial house. We have never lived in a house that heats with radiators. I was quickly confounded by all the switches, knobs, and gauges and surrendered to my ignorance lest I make things worse with a miscalculating adjustment. Brenda called the company that services the furnace while I retreated to the office to wrestle with the keyboard with hope of finding an essay or observation to share. That's when I experienced that epiphany of realizing I was virtually sitting on the ticket to my destination and the substance of today's Blog entry.

I reflected on the number of times each day and each week that I encounter information or policies calling out for higher performance levels on newly constructed assessments, and the hue and cry of the new Common Core Learning Standards - both echoing earlier clarions for the "all Regents diploma" and ultimately designed to elevate achievement and graduation rates. One of the rebuttals to these pleas for universally raising the bar has come from those who question why everyone must take all Regents classes and exams and subsequently attend college and beyond. Is this really considered necessary if you desire to follow a parent's footsteps in a business, like a young man wishing to sustain his father's farming business or auto body shop? Must you acquire a Regents diploma if you have long wanted to assume a full time role in the family bakery or landscaping company?

Here I am, sitting comfortably in my chair typing in my home office where the diploma I received for my doctorate hangs on the wall next to me, and I am awaiting the arrival of a well trained and experienced furnace repairman, who likely has not received a college education, to arrive and solve our problem before the house becomes even colder. His service charge will not pale in comparison to bills many college graduates would tender for work they performed in their field of employment. That reminded me of the expert mechanics who fix and maintain my car, the skilled painters, the efficient plumbers, and the many other occupations and trades that are vital to sustain our daily life and do not require a college diploma.

I'm not indicting or devaluing a college education at all. I just question the need for a swelling and sweeping call to arms in the form of requiring everyone to accept the challenge of attaining a particular and ordained level of higher education. It seems like an awkward imposition of values and beliefs foisted upon the populace. Certainly, a high school diploma should represent a minimum and realistic benchmark in our society, but there are many interesting and attractive occupations that provide more than adequate compensation for people who have acquired specific skill sets and experience without earning a college diploma.
I am returning to the keyboard after our rescue by the repairman. Now that I have received the bill for the furnace repair, I can unequivocally assert that the position of furnace repairman is well rewarded despite the absence of a need for a college diploma.

There, I discovered something to write about when I got up off my seat!

No comments:

Post a Comment