Preparing for the Wrong Possibility

7 Apr

I could get angry about California teachers doing active shooter drills, while distance learning on Zoom, but it made me think about my own prepping instead. Like teaching students to shelter at home, maybe we’re all preparing for the wrong thing.

My family are lazy preppers, so although we actually do have stockpiles of food for emergencies, I’m worried that we don’t have the one thing that actually matters. Water. We live in Arizona, so although we’ve got all this dried and dehydrated food, to eat any of it requires the one thing we don’t have in abundance in the Sonoran Desert. Mind you, we have the temporary solution of the local pool to give us hundreds of gallons, but I think all of us realize that’s only going to last us a couple weeks, maybe a month.

However, that’s a difference of goals between me and my wife. I’m thinking about surviving for years–total collapse of society–versus surviving for a month–temporary collapse of infrastructure.

My wife’s scenario is far more likely, I’ll grant her that, but I’m also thinking any level of infrastructure collapse means we need to buy a gun. Preferably a shotgun, which allows for minimal shooting skills, and maximum effect. Yet that’s a bridge too far so far… because the likelihood that our kids will get out a real gun and play with it and maim/kill themselves is far higher than the infrastructure collapse. The solution for that is to get a gun safe–or at least something you can lock it up–but now we’re reaching a cost level that’s not really acceptable for us. We can buy a pound of beans for a couple bucks every month–we can’t buy a whole gun “infrastructure” without hurting our bank account.

Now let’s apply this to something I know well: education. American high schools are designed to prepare their students for college, which is great, if your students are going to college. I decided to look up the numbers: in 2017, 2.9 million students graduated from high school, and 1.9 million (67%) enrolled in college that fall, including students aged 16-24 who graduated from high school within 4 years of beginning 9th grade or completed a GED. Now that applies to the majority of folks: In 2018, 93% of adults between the age of 18 and 24 and 89.8% of adults over the age of 25 had completed a diploma, GED or another equivalency credential. So you’re only leaving out 10% more of people for whom college is not an option.

Okay–so that means for just over half (57%) of all American students, they are getting the education they need to progress. Except that here’s the next fact: the national college graduation rate is 46%; bachelor’s degree seekers graduate at a rate of 60%. So… only a quarter of all 9th graders entering high school this year will actually graduate with a college degree. You’d think that would mean “Maybe we should train our students to prepare for the workforce, rather than than college, since that’s where most of them will end up.” But they can’t–because high school teachers don’t know how to do that.

Try this phrase on for size: “teachers teach as they have been taught.” When I went through teacher training, I went into my classroom doing lecture, because… that’s what I had been doing for four years previous. I had to reteach myself how to teach by using a variety of activities, half of which I made up because I couldn’t find relevant resources. How are we supposed to teach consumer education to our kids when the teachers themselves don’t know how credit cards work? Or taking loans? Or how to do your taxes?! Plus the teachers themselves went to college–they don’t consider any other career path valid. A beginning welder will make more than a beginning teacher and with far less student debt, and generally start a couple years earlier.

The teacher will look down a blue collar worker, since they didn’t have the well-rounded experience that they had. Well, you can get drunk with age-appropriate folks anywhere, in my opinion. Considering my kids want to get into the arts, why on Earth would I want them to go to college?! A college degree in their chosen fields gets them absolutely nothing. If/when they realize that being an actor/waiter is not a good career path, they’ll be able to go into college a couple years wiser, and won’t treat it as extended high school.

So this post went in a very weird direction, but so often in life, we’re preparing for the wrong thing. Where are the blind spots in your life? Let me know in the comments below! If you want to see what the future looks like, check out my books! But if you’re saving up for that gun safe instead, and $1.99 is too much, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. Enjoy!

One Response to “Preparing for the Wrong Possibility”

  1. Jane Tawel April 7, 2021 at 4:43 pm #

    Strong thinking, valid statistics (surprising as they always are to me to see again), and good rational analysis. Well done.

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