It has often been pointed out that a Primary or even College education does not hold as much weight nowadays as it once did, at least so far as the job market is concerned. Advancements in science and technology have made the various branches of knowledge much more specialized. Literacy is absolutely essential for most kinds of lucrative work. A kid graduating from High School nowadays enters an oftentimes-bewildering world that seems to be growing and changing faster than anyone can keep up with. Worst of all, a diploma or degree provides no assurances of one finding a niche in the new marketplace.
Many companies say that that, today, initiative and creative thinking count for as much as an educational background when determining the right person for a job. Unfortunately, many young people entering the world lack the self-confidence to either learn the skills that they need or to put them to use. Are our schools failing to prepare students for the realities of modern life? Perhaps they are; but the problem may not lie with the actual subject matter that is presented by our educational system. It may be that kids have difficulties learning because they’ve never experienced it as something they enjoy.
Take, for example, the issue of reading. Studies have shown again and again that kids who excel at it were either read to at home or else they picked up on it on their own because they wanted to. They became proficient at reading and outstripped their peers, therefore, because they loved doing it. If schools could instill in students such enthusiasm for all aspects of the curriculum, these kids would not only retain what they were being taught but also carry a sense of optimism with them when they graduated. This eagerness to learn would translate to more ease in the work world. Job training would be accomplished naturally, without inner aversion or resistance. As things stand now, however, kids open a textbook with an inward groan, feeling like education is just an unpleasant experience that has been thrust upon them – and which doesn’t cut it in today’s world anyway.
Under the present circumstances, perhaps the best approach would be for those of us who are parents to start with our own children when they are young. While curiosity and enthusiasm is still strong in them, we can direct them into creative and hands-on activities that combine learning with tangible results. Sure, they can absorb a lot of facts by watching hours of television, but what can they do with all that information once they’re done? Activities like drawing, painting, crafts, handwork, reading, hiking, bird watching, and caring for pets can allow them to put the power of their minds into practice. The joy that they derive from this can be carried over into more challenging subjects down the road. “Knowledge is power” has been an oft-repeated maxim. Perhaps we could adopt a more effective credo for this age of educational apathy: “Knowledge is pleasure”.