This morning I responded to Jeff Selingo's education reform forum on LinkedIn, #BigIdeas2015.
Here's what I wrote:
I have been underemployed all my adult life, but that's okay. The best things in life may be related, in some ways, to education, but satisfaction with life accomplishments are not absolutely dependent on education.
Now approaching the golden years of life, I have gathered a lifetime of useful knowledge, which I would like to pass on to the next generations. Here's why:
My somewhat unpredictable forty+ years of employment and raising children with my wife have convinced me that a broadly diversified foundation of education is absolutely worth more that its weight in gold. In modern life, especially now in our age of digital communications, there is no substitute for developing three essential educational components, which collectively constitute an advantageous preparation for successful life. Here are the three components:
~ knowing how to read, and read thoroughly with comprehension and critical analysis
~ knowing how to write, and express yourself and what you have learned
~ knowing how to communicate verbally, and accurately (for instance, without constant mentions of "like" and "um.")
In 1973, I was a confused, but fairly well-read, senior at LSU. With a concentration in general humanities, mostly political science and English, I managed to escape four and a half years of trying to figure this "education" thing out. Fortunately, that prolonged effort yielded for me a baccalaureate, which I held in my hand while launching a "career" in life insurance sales.
The life insurance phase was short-lived. But that did not, as it later turned out, matter so much.
After moving to Florida, spending the better part of a year selling policies to low-income people, I moved into newspaper advertising sales for a season, then into printing sales for about five years.
Then I decided to become a carpenter. Ha! Who'd have thunk it?
So I was, making a long story short, in construction for twenty-five+ years. I built houses, working for contractors in North Carolina where we had settled with our young family. Thus we managed to make a living, feed the kids and all that. My wife moved out of her stained glass business and into nursing shortly after our third child entered middle school.
All along the way, I was a reader, and that is the key to education--learning how to be a lifelong reader, and thereby cultivating a lifelong proficiency for self-education.
About ten years ago, I decided to enter the field of education. After taking courses part time for a couple of years at our local state university, I acquired several teaching certifications. After Praxis, student teaching and acquiring certifications in four subjects, I worked in a school for about two years in a supportive role.
Then the crash of '08 came, followed by the budget-cutting of '09. One thing led to another, and our own household budgetary requirements required that I move back into construction-related work, which is to say, maintenance. Now I fix things in 92 apartments; its a full time job, and works well with my wife's nursing career.
Eight years ago, I started writing and publishing novels; I'm working on the fourth one now, which is named King of Soul. You can find more about those writing projects and the blogs that complement them at http://www.careyrowland.com.
Also, the improvised resumé includes forty+ years of writing songs and recording them in various studios.
Here's hoping that before all this is over, I will be able to fulfill the educator role in some way. There is a lot to be said for a life that is spent in continuous reading and seeking knowledge. Knowledge of both kinds: the artistic, and the practical. I do hope to pass it on; a classroom setting could be helpful.
So, if you are considering a rework of the "college" experience, shoot me a digital note and we will talk about #BigIdeas2015. Thanks.