NEWS BLOG (WSAU) For today’s blog… education, the economy, and a post-Labor Day thought all rolled into one.
The best news blog I ever wrote, in terms of personal benefit for my family, was posted on March 14. In it, I wrote about the Kahn Academy – a YouTube cottage industry of short 15-minute academic lectures on math, algebra, calculus, and trigonometry. Anyone can watch them, and have a bite-sized understanding of a complex subject that wouldn’t be well-absorbed in a classroom-length lecture. (Read it here: http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/mar/14/opinion-education-technology-and-recalls/ )
My oldest daughter read the March 14 blog. (It blows my mind that a 13 year old would read some of the things that Dad writes.) She was already taking advanced math in middle school, but found the Kahn Academy series very easy to understand. On her own, she’s been working on additional math series over the summer. And she’s discovered that there are similar mini-courses of high quality that cover literature and science.
Whereas some kids start this year with summer brain-drain, where teachers will spend the first 4-6 weeks re-teaching what was forgot from last year, some students have spent the summer learning and are ready to move forward at the start of the new school year. I’m very proud that my kid is among them. For those who aren’t – pulling yourself away from xBox or Facebook for just 15-minutes a day would have increased your brain power. Technology has made tremendous amounts of knowledge accessible to everyone, but most won’t take advantage of the opportunity.
Then comes this Labor Day article from Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post. (http://tinyurl.com/brrqn2) He argues that the blue collar American worker is being held back because he/she doesn’t have the bargaining power of a union. He strikes down the straw-man of a ‘skills gap’ – and he’s 100% polar-opposite wrong.
Individual economic security comes from becoming the best in something, and then getting paid top price for your services. (Or, at least, becoming good in an area where skills and manpower are in short supply, and prospering off supply and demand for your labor.) One of the problems our economy is facing is that unskilled labor is shockingly unskilled. What jobs can we provide for people who struggle with basic math like fractions and percents, have poor speaking and language skills, and have work habits that may include tardiness, absenteeism, and addiction. Ask any employer of entry-level workers and they’ll tell you that’s the landscape they see.
Labor Day is over. And today a new school year begins. Lesson one: education is a faster, more reliable path to personal success than practicing collectivism with those who didn’t learn as much.