Educational Needs

Now that I have passed the 30 year mark (by a couple years), I have a somewhat better understanding as to what I should have learned in my days of formal education.  I scratch my head and wonder sometimes why certain incredibly important topics were not required courses for graduation from high school.

I can understand the value of a liberal arts education.  I just think we may have overemphasized certain aspects of liberal arts and undervalued more practical and pressing topics that are sure to appear in life.

Do not get me wrong: I enjoyed the challenge of Algebra and Geometry.  However, I have to admit that since my departure from formal education, I do not think I have used many of those principles I learned.  One principle comes into my mind as to something that I use more than a couple times in a year.  Any guesses as to what it is?  Well, here it is: the hypotenuse of a right triangle is always shorter than the combined length of the other two legs.  Why do I use this?  For navigation and deciding the shortest route.  Of course Google has taken the fun out of this endeavor to use my learned higher math skills since they tell you the distance of all possible routes right there on the map.  Thanks, Google.  You stole what little bragging rights my Algebra and Geometry classes had.

I am sure there are formal education institutions out there that do a good job in covering my suggested courses.  If there are, then I did not attend any of them.  But even more than just covering the topics of my suggested courses, I would like for these courses to be required and full semester length.

So, without further ado, here are the three required courses:

Finances 101

I really wish I understood debt and interest rates before I decided to go to an incredibly expensive private university.  Sure there were math problems in high school that hinted to the danger of high interest rates or even low interest rates carried out over many years.  But instead of giving a vague forewarning, there should have been an intense intervention.

This course would include Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  It was not until I went through this 9 week study that I felt as if I knew how to budget, plan, and attack financial problems.  If you have not heard of Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, or only have a little knowledge on budgeting and getting rid of debt, then I strongly suggest you look into FPU and consider joining a class yourself.  By the time you complete the course, you will feel much more prepared to lead a household financially.

Logic 101

Debate and discussion with people would be much more productive if everybody could recognize and describe formal and informal logical fallacies.  Not only would debate and discussion be more productive, but imagine how many fewer incredibly annoying facebook memes and rants there would be.  Or imagine political debates actually having helpful dialogue instead of going off in a hundred directions.

I could create a whole blog post about logical fallacies, but for now I will describe the two most common fallacies with which I must deal:

1. Red Herring Fallacy: This fallacy is when an argument is presented that distracts from the main question.

I dealt with this just the other day.  I had said that there is no universally enforceable morality without a God.  The person with whom I was discussing this said, “I do not agree with that.  I mean, which god should we follow?”  Now while the person’s argument could be valid at some point later in our discussion, the person’s argument only distracts from the main question of whether or not there can be a universally enforceable morality without a God.  I spent the next 15 minutes getting us back on track.  Imagine if this person would have recognized the fallacy before it was uttered.  We could have progressed much more quickly.

2. Straw Man Fallacy: This fallacy is when someone misrepresents his opponent’s argument and argues against the misrepresentation and not the opponent’s actual argument.

This is with which we see members of both political parties get so frustrated.  I rarely watch a political debate where both/all candidates are not continually misrepresenting each other.  Imagine if we lived in a culture where everybody truly tried to understand each other and find points of agreements.  We could come to so many more conclusions and compromises and actually get work done.

Self Awareness 101

This course would be all about quieting the teenager’s mind.  This course would teach the youth that they are greater than their hormones and feelings; it would teach that they do not have to act out their feelings, but that they can recognize their feelings, analyze the situation, and respond correctly, not naturally.  This course would teach that embarrassment is not a state of being, but a state of mind; it would teach that embarrassment is ultimately a choice.  This course would teach introspection; it would teach the youth to identify one’s strengths and weaknesses, to realize that they do not have to be like everybody else, and that each of them are unique for a reason.  This course would teach the youth that there is still much to be learned; it would teach that the obtaining of wisdom is a life-long pursuit, and that humility is essential to obtaining great wisdom.  There are a number of topics that would be addressed in this course, but the ultimate goal would be to awaken the youth to a better way of thinking than the common teenager way of thinking.

I am sure you could nominate a few required courses for high school graduation.  If you could require three courses, which would you pick?  You can agree with any of mine or outline your own unique list.

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5 comments

  1. Memory courses – Just like I learned how to type in middle school and use that skill nearly every day. A memory course could teach us how to quickly and easily memorize important things like grocery lists, names of people at conferences, etc.

    Projecting Trends – Certain jobs do not exist now that did exist thirty years ago. Anyone who trains for a job that’s going to be fazed out will find it tough to adapt. So, w should teach kids courses on how to best guess what jobs will still be around for a while after they graduate.

    Assessing different markets – As someone who’s lived in three cities I really wish I would have been formally taught good ways to prepare myself for moving to different places. LA is very different from Chicago and both ate very different from DFW.

    Evaluating Evidence – You and I have both been guilty of posting a link to a verifiably false story. A lot of people do. Maybe a mandatory course on the dangers of spreading unverified data could help curb some of the rampant disinformation that gets believed and retold so often.

    And I agree with your courses as well.

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  2. FINANCES 101!!

    Big fan of Dave Ramsey, and FP. Also Larry Burkett and CFM. I don’t necessarily agree with the Baby Steps (I do, but my own variation). I also struggle with the way people on the show brag about being debt free. Not sure this is any different than bragging about buying a new BMW. But those are really minor things compared to the principals taught.

    We have restructured our finances, and the ability to be content and help others, through it. It’s not about getting things, either – I don’t even own a car.

    When I started down this road a few years ago, I really thought as a monetary goal – I would reach for – was to get this certain car, or a specific TV. Not that those are that important, and I am not materialistic at all, but I was a young single dad for many years, and at the same time, went through major medical issues that took whatever money I did have. I absolutely knew what it was like to be poor (and how most people make the assumption it is poor choices or poor discipline). So this would be symbolic of ‘not really that poor anymore’!

    In the last 2 years – after getting to Baby Step 3 (then 4/5 and back to 3 then maybe 2!) – I have been able to pay off 33% of the mortgage (baby step 6 I think) while doing all the baby steps… and trying to do step 7 as well. And there’s some things I need but not a thing I want, other than help others with what we have as extra. And I don’t need to tell others or brag about it.

    (And extra is not the 2nd home or maxed-out 401K, & savings; I do believe we need to do as much as we can to not be a burden on others by making bad decisions or lack of good decisions… but too many Christians are all about convenience. AKA, “now that we have the cars and retirement plans in place, and the great new furniture I saw in the Ad, we can give to God, or adopt that child from X, or do more at church”. This makes me sick. Seriously.)

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