The Value of Education

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It is known to any of us who have studied rhetoric that the key to winning a debate is not in how cleverly you can argue, but in the terms used to examine the topic. In common terms this is called limiting the argument. If you can limit the opposition into only talking about what you want to talk about, battle half over.


In education we hear repeatedly about the value of education in terms of future income. Each step up the educational ladder means a great potential for increased earning. So we have some teachers paying their students to do their homework and there is talk of even paying kids to come to make it to school. This is meant to reinforce this idea that education is an economic activity.


But I think this severely undervalues the value of education. All of the studies that I've seen have shown that the most important area in which education helps students is in health. Kids who graduate from grade school, any grade school in any community, have healthier outcomes in life than kids who don't. There are all kinds of societal and sociological ingredients being mixed together here, but the bottom line is that being in an environment that stresses learning, even if you aren't very good at it, improves your health. And the further you go in educational pursuits, the better the health outcomes.


Knowing things, pretty much anything, improves your chances of survival, that's what this demonstrates and it makes educators fearful for the future generations we're educating because they're being taught not to know. They're being confused by the differences between knowledge and belief, between fact and opinion, between science and theory. We know that exercise helps with circulation and that good circulation is a key component to healthy living. Beyond that the value of exercise is disputed. A fellow coach once told me that exercise was good because it makes people strong and able to fight for what they believe in. I raised the issue that this was not a proof of the goodness of exercise, since the Nazi's believed in exactly those merits of physical activity, but used the strong bodies of  a society of exercise fanatics to facilitate destruction.


I don't think home schooling is a healthy alternative to public schools. I know public schools expose vulnerable kids to all kinds of dangerous, abusive, belittling, potentially scarring relationships and activities, but it's a healthier place to learn about these things than on the street. In school there is at least some modicum of structure and supervision. And now the internet is the source kids use to find whatever they want to get into and school can be a stabilizing social environment in a world of virtual realities. 


If we want a healthier children, a healthier society, we need better schools, healthier schools. Not to do a better job educating children to become better workers, that will be a natural byproduct, but the main goal should be to teach them how to live healthier lives, a job that schools already do, if haphazardly.     


mark henry smith Added Mar 13, 2017 - 2:36pm
I went to a really good school and I hated it because being at home was just so much more fun and less stressful. I had terrible study habits, and no structure at home at all, the house being run by the kids, since both of my parents worked. My status as the youngest left me little privacy and little recompense for the deprivations I suffered.
Looking back, I recognize how healthy the school environment was compared to my home environment, even though I was bored at school. What intellectual environment could compete with being swaddled in the loose cloth of my artistic, argumentative, brilliant, bedlaminous family?
I now realize that if I hadn't gone to school, home probably would have killed me, killed me softly with its love. 
Joe Chiang Added Mar 13, 2017 - 2:42pm
You are correct to a point and wrong to a point.  The higher the education the more a person may make.  However, the highest paid people, the owners, often are school dropouts.  Bill Gates and mark Zuckerburg are both college drop outs.  Many of the business owners, manufacturers, were school drop outs and their college graduated classmates were happy for their dropout pal to employ them.  That is because we are no longer teaching the skills to be entrepreneurs.
I do agree that more money means healthier.  More money to buy healthier foods and afford medical care. 
George N Romey Added Mar 13, 2017 - 3:29pm
There is education for general knowledge then there is education for a vocation in life. Prior to the 1930s higher education was aimed at wealthy young adults that were set with a job and career.  Higher education was suppose to provide meaning and understanding not the basis for obtaining a job.  With the baby boomers a college education became a requirement for a good career.  I'm not sure higher education ever moved out of the 1930s mindset. 
Patrick Writes Added Mar 14, 2017 - 2:26am
There are no more jobs for using your brawn. So people have to learn how to use their brain to make a living. 
Regarding health, sure. Home schooling is one of those, in one-off cases it might work here and there. But this is not a real alternative for thousands and millions of kids. So I'd agree that home schooling is not really an alternative to school. 
I think private school is probably better than public school, on average. The obsession with shoving fashionable ideas regarding sexuality at very young children in public schools, utterly stupid. Obsession with stupid things like transgender bathrooms for young kids, utterly stupid. Spending weeks each year on standardized testing, stupid. Shoving evolution nonsense at young kids, in my own opinion, stupid. 
They'd rather teach 8 and 9 year olds about evolution than how to do read, write, and basic math. Kids probably learn that they are evolved monkeys before they even know what the constitution is. The constitution is real. Whether kids actually are evolved monkeys is a theory with NO hard evidence.
(For example: Lucy is not evidence, it's 1/5 of a skeleton that the guy who discovered it was paid to go out and discover a missing link and shocker came back with that. It contains a baboon vertebrae bone--how'd that happen. See that rock solid evidence in the article below.
Or consider that most of the hard evidence for evolution in the form of missing links in the 1st half of the 20th century all turned out to be fakes. Piltdown man. Java man. Nebraska man. Earnst Haeckels evolution embryo. People did PHD research about this stuff. It was taught to children for over 50 years in textbooks. All lies. That's the history of evolution. Teach the kids that. Nah, just show them the diagram of the ape on the left who slowly stands up to be man on the right with about 4 stages in between, none of which have ever been found.)
Joe Chiang Added Mar 14, 2017 - 8:56am
Good report Patrick.  Now DeVos wants to promote vouchers for alternatives to public school.  Here on the reservation and in the inner city schools, we have a problem with attendance.  Parents do not get voucher money for their children NOT attending school.  So with vouchers, they can say they are going to home school and get voucher money.  Their kids weren't coming to school anyway.  Now the court can't bug them, the schools can't bug them, and the kids stay home as usual, but parent gets voucher money.
Here is the real kick.  In a few years, these children will be tested and demonstrate failure to learn.  Then the legislators will say home school does not work and must end to force all children into failed public schools.  That is the way the New World Order wants it.
Dino Manalis Added Mar 14, 2017 - 10:42am
Education should start and continue at home.  Parents and teachers have to prepare children for life and work.  High school graduation ought to be required to prepare kids for college, while employers should have employees with at least a high school diploma.  I support school choice, but public money should only go to public schools, private schools ought to provide financial aid, like colleges.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 14, 2017 - 6:00pm
If you can limit the opposition into only talking about what you want to talk about
Hit the nail. Take the lead and override the rest to feed your ego LOL
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 14, 2017 - 7:07pm
Well being as Few workers have jobs in the field of their degree the idea that more education equals higher pay is not really established.
As far as grade school is concerned, I suppose you would have to look at the individual schools in question as well as the parents and the student to determine what the "best" options may be.  Just about any options would be better than the average public school in Chicago for example, but the more important issue is the student.  If you have a child that fits "the norm" and can keep pace in the public school classroom then on average around America that would be better than the average home school environment, but let's say you have a special needs child, one on the spectrum or who does not lean well in standard classroom environments, well then it is very possible any other option would be better for the student and the school.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 14, 2017 - 8:23pm
The issue has factors that must be considered.  These include the attitude and effort of the child, the attitude of the subculture, the curriculum and standards forced on the teachers by administrators, in the district, state and national.  A good student and parent does not need a school to learn.  A bad student and bad parent will never succeed no matter what the school teacher does.  Everything in between is affected by the administrators.  For example, Common Core and decreasing school funding.  Textbooks and teaching materials with agendas instead of quality instruction also take a toll.
Joe Chiang Added Mar 17, 2017 - 12:08pm
No argument from me Rick.  We had religious education for the first 250 years, colonial times through first 50 years as a nation.  Then we had public education for the next 75 years or so, then the last 75 years has been to get children ready to fit into the industrial machine.  But now this has morphed into the information age and children are being prepared for participation in the "New World Order" .  That is what was depicted by RollerBall, 1984, and the rest.  I believe this is preparation for the New World Order to be run and controlled by the Anti-Christ.  The end is near.
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 3:37pm
Dear Writerbeat friends,
I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you, but we had a snow storm that shut down the library for a day, and then I had to move into my new apartment which required much work. Now I'm back.
Thank you all for the comments. I will tackle each of you separately.
First, Joe. Many very good points. The entrepreneurial spirit is not created in the classroom. It is created in the home where parents teach by example and don't belittle the ambitions of children just because of their age. Age is not a barrier to the next great idea in either direction, I hope.
I am not sure that more money necessarily means better health. What I will agree to is that it means better healthcare, but rich people are often terribly unhealthy in their habits, but they have options when their lifestyles catch up with them. Options that the poor do not and will never have, even if we eventually put taxpayer-funded, universal healthcare in place. That will never be more than a basic care service, but I would argue that basic care for all, without charge, would be better for society, business, and families, removing the stress of paying for treatment of simple conditions that should never be left unattended. A small infection that becomes sepsis is a huge cost to society. I recommend mobile clinics be set up around the country staffed by nurses using remote doctors to advise. Hey, I went off-topic on my own piece.
Joe, my argument is that school, the very process of going to school, getting up in the morning, being tested and challenged, the stress, the alienation, all of the problems associated with school and learning to overcome them, are a health benefit in the modern world where having these skills gives people an advantage, not just in the workplace, but in interpersonal relationships, in one's feelings about oneself. Overcoming challenges on a personal level builds character and character is a fundamental aspect of good health. What schools, media, entertainment in the modern world appear to be about is teaching children how to be characters, not have character.  
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 3:43pm
George, I always think that higher education has served both purposes. I don't think anyone ever went to law school just to become more high-minded, or medical school. But I agree that the liberal arts education, of which I am a product, leads to a more well-rounded view of existence, and that was the purpose of education, to create well-rounded individuals, not drones. I think well-rounded individuals are in general healthier than drones.
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 3:59pm
Patrick, I agree that brawn is no longer a way to support a family, except if you do it for yourself, such as mining. There are still some individuals out there making a good living for themselves digging in the earth. The Amish are a case in point, but they live very simple lives. I have heard that the Amish are among the healthiest people in the United States and they only get basic education, but they learn about the things they need to know from doing from an early age. So much of what we teach kids in school is about things they don't need to know, as you point out.
I do believe that we are the products of evolution, but that doesn't stop me from believing in a divine plan, or that we humans are the children of a beneficent God. I don't think it is important for children to be exposed to this contentious topic in school, or sex education. I don't think that's the job of the schools. There isn't enough time in the day for children to learn the basics of reading, writing, and math, history, basic science, and this attempt to indoctrinate children into a mindset of liberal acceptance of anything goes has severely backfired.
Do I think children need at some point to be educated about their bodies and the bio-chemical processes that keep us alive? Yes, that's vitally important for good health, nutrition, exercise, good breathing, good habits, cleanliness. Do they need to be taught about how sex should be done? Not in school. As a woman once said to me, let them learn it on the streets the way I did, but don't hide if they ask. Just answer the questions honestly, what options exist and why they exist, without judgment about what's best. That's what thy have to decide for themselves.       
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 4:09pm
Joe, vouchers are a terrible problem since it has been shown that parents are self-segregating, and schools are becoming selective, since charter schools have the option of only taking good students, leaving the bad students to become more and more dominant at public schools, making the schools less and less viable. What teacher wants to teach at a school with students who not only don't know how to learn, but insist on being heard?
My ex-wife taught in a Philadelphia public school and she said it was maddening. Half of a one-hour class could be spent just getting the disruptive kids to shut up. That's a skill we're not teaching enough kids. How to be quiet and just think. These kids are continually bombarded with noise and what they produce is noise, what they appreciate is noise, and when they get out in the world the only jobs available to them are ones where making noise all day is not an impediment. How many jobs allow that? How many jackhammer operators do we need in this country?   
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 4:10pm
Dino, right on! 
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 4:12pm
Stone, I have no ego. A dingo ate my ego!
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 4:26pm
Louis, you hit the nail on the head. The school environment allows the kinds of interactions that develop well-rounded individuals where home-school only supports values and ideas that parents find acceptable. To be well-rounded means to be confronted with ideas that push and disturb, learning how to argue, fight, compromise, and make-up. We do not have a government of people with these skills and I think it's a result of so many of them having gone to schools populated with kids who were just like them.
I went to a school with a vast majority of upper-middle class white kids, but there were black kids, Asian kids, Jewish kids, Italian kids, Irish kids, all kinds of kids who expressed vastly different views and we learned how to agree to disagree on issues where there was no compelling reason not to. But we all agreed that we had to fight for the right to party.
Yeah, I'm being serious. There are some people out there who don't want us to have the right to party. There is nothing better to bring people of diverse and contentious opinions together than a good party. Not the binge drinking parties that leave kids brain dead, but parties that involved a little of this, a little of that, a sophisticated approach of everything in moderation. It's one of the key components of health that schools, athletics, clubs, etc... have forgotten. We've gotten so focused on success and failure that we've forgotten that success can be failure health wise and failure can be success. It's all about the lessons learned.
Did you know that entrepreneurs, almost all of them, have had at least five failures for every success? That's a lesson kids need to be exposed to.  
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 4:28pm
Joe, if you don't have the tools to do the job, it doesn't matter how much good will you bring to the project. And if the student doesn't want to learn what you have to teach, no amount of teaching will change that.
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 4:49pm
Rick, you say both education and training are present and that has been the case since mandatory public education began. It was known from the start that not all kids would fit the structure and some were left out. Special needs kids, disruptive kids, psychotic kids were spent to special classes where they would not interfere with learning, training. Can you have one without the other? I would argue that you cannot. The approach taken in teaching is training in the approach to learning. When you learn math, you are being trained in process, since without am understanding of numbers you can't do addition and subtraction, and without addition and subtraction you cannot do multiplication and division, and so on. Each step is necessary for the next step, and it is the same with language and writing.
The problem comes when this process is carried over to areas where it is not so clear, such as evolution and creationism. I, for one, see creationism as a joke because it denies process and relies on denial of so much evidence, but I can understand why it might be important for someone else who doesn't accept process, but relies on inspiration to believe that there is a omnipotent being who could make things appear to be what they're not. I would not want to be beholden to a God who plays those kinds of games. That to my way of thinking would be a childish God and I like to believe that my God is more mature and adult than I am.
So, my point is that the educational process we use is more important than the facts we use in teaching. Evolution is a process that fits the facts we see in the world around us. Creationism doesn't.
Anyway, I don't think McDonald's is going into schools asking teachers to train workers for their hamburger mills. I think those workers self-select with the choices they make and enough do for McDonald's to be able to find a steady supply of workers to do the work they need done at minimum wage. I have talked to some of these workers and they don't blame the schools, McDonald's, anyone for their situation. They accept that they made choices and now have to live with them. They say they trained themselves, but that doesn't mean there weren't outside societal forces pushing them towards that destiny.   
mark henry smith Added Mar 17, 2017 - 5:02pm
Rick and Joe,
I have seen and enjoyed Rollerball and appreciated the message of all of us being products packaged to entertain an audience, like we're living in a giant WWF rumble where the people who own the show work behind the scenes to get the outcomes they want, but the real world isn't so clear cut. There are all kinds of unintended consequences, such as we're seeing in the world now where simple, common people are becoming the candidates of choice in many countries because the party candidates have failed so miserably.
Who said we have the best educational system in the world? In terms of college preparatory schools we rank something like twentieth, but we have the most desired higher education system in the world for one reason. It is the most well financed and liberal. We pull in the best minds from all over the world to teach at our colleges and universities with our wages and work schedules. We attract the wealthiest students from all over the world, because they can come here and get an excellent education, but more importantly have a hell of a good time partying.
Now, isn't that strange? That exactly the values that make our higher education so envied are exactly the properties we don't give to our public grade schools? I would argue that religion is another one of those contentious issues that doesn't need to be taught in school, since there is no process in religious education. But ethics should be taught.
Whoa! I'm pooped. Thanks again.  
Joe Chiang Added Mar 17, 2017 - 11:52pm
@Rick.   taught at South Houston HS one year.  Very bad.  40% of students never showed up for class.  I was told I MUST pass 80%.  So I had to figure which 20% of students I thought might be thinking good thoughts about the class.
@Mark.  My school won the state BB HS championship last year.  They have gone to state and played in the championship game for the last 3 years.  They are there again as I write this.  They just won the semi-final game to play for championship again.  Go Four Winds-Miniwalken.  
@All.  There is a fix for disinterested students.  NCLB must be taken seriously.  The student MUST do their work and learn.  The student needs to be given a choice, learn and do their work in class or learn and do their work after school in mandatory detention/tutoring.  That way the student can choose to pay attention, learn, and do their work in class during school time, or stay after school and pay attention, learn, and do their work.  Not learning or doing their work is NOT a choice.  If a student is present, paying attention, and doing their work, they are not acting out and being a pain in the posterior of the teacher.  I figure the teacher would only need to be at after school 2-3 weeks and all students will be model students with high grades.
The BIG question is why virtually EVERY state make this mandatory tutoring illegal?
mark henry smith Added Mar 20, 2017 - 12:03pm
Joe, great ideas.
I imagine work rules make teachers doing mandatory tutoring after school hours illegal, but the reality is that teachers are putting in that time anyway, for the most part. The idea of taking a kid's time from them for taking the time of others' is a good quid pro quo. But will it work?
I'd love to see this idea experimented with, this, do it now, or do it later approach, but what will the cost be to students who refuse to engage at all? Do the rules that don't allow athletes to play on sports teams if they don't keep up their GPAs proved effective? Can there be a carrot added to the stick, such as the limelight? If a kid shows the most improvement, he gets to do a five-minute improv for the class at the end of the week, an anything goes improv, within reason.
Thanks, that was an excellent comment.    
Joe Chiang Added Mar 20, 2017 - 12:35pm
@Mark.  LOL 
1.  When students have mandatory after school tutoring it has ALWAYS worked.  That is WHY it is banned, to the best of my knowledge, in all 50 states.
2.  Schools all have "After School" Programs.  Some teachers are paid to cover them.  These include 21st century - Federal play program for elementary.  It also includes after school tutoring for middle school and secondary.  The budget already includes here buses to take the students home.  This means ZERO additional cost.
3.  The biog sport here is Basketball.  In most other areas it is football.  But as a teacher we ALWAYS know when a particular sport is up.  The students participating in that sport ALWAYS keep their grades up.  We also know when that sport is over.  Those players stop doing their work.  Obviously this is not all, but significant enough to know the beginning and end of each season.  LOL
4.  Some teachers have tried a movie each Friday.  If all students have done their work and are passing, 1/2 a movie is shown.  Classes NEVER earn the movie.  There is always someone who just doesn't care.  If the movie is shown anyway, then what is the reward for doing the work?
The issue is motivation and not from the student, but from the parent.  I can up with the relatively cheap idea to pay parents $5 per day for each day they have a child in school, in class, and passing.  Child is absent, no $5. Child not doing their work and not passing, no $5.  For 3 children that could be $75 a week.  This is less than truant officers, courts to chase after students, incarceration, etc.  One BIG problem is parents not interested in their children's education.  This would give the parents a reason to be interested, even if for the wrong reason.  After doing this for 20 years, the cycle of bad disinterested parents in education would be broken.
This is not possible because of Federal regulations.  The money paid to parents is deducted from their social services payments.  This would mean they would now have the incentive to make sure their child is NOT in class, and does NOT do their work, so they do NOT loose their welfare payments.  As usual, the Federal Government is the problem, not a part of the solution.

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