Sunday, May 1, 2016

Do You Know How to Get a Great Education? Advice for preschool through graduate school.

More than ever, we view education s the magic pill.

As individuals, we continue to place faith and lots of dollars into getting that degree, or third degree, in hopes that will levitate us from the stack of applications for a good job.

As parents, we spend heavily on our kids' education. We may move to an expensive area so our kids can get "good" public schools. We may even spring for private school and college, which today costs an inconceivable amount of money. A child paying sticker price at well-regarded private schools K-16 costs--when all is added in--almost a million dollars: $30,000 a year x 12 and $70,000 a year x 4.  And that assumes s/he'll graduate in four years. 45.5% don't, even if given six years. And that's just to get to the bachelor's degree. And that's just for one child. Sure, there may be financial aid, but much of that is loan. That has to be paid back, with interest.

As a society, at least publicly, we tout education as the magic pill, the best hope for closing the achievement gap and for enabling the U.S. to compete in the global economy, notably with China. So the U.S. spends #1 in the world per capita on education even though, year after year, among developed nations, the U.S. scores near the bottom

And although colleges' PR machines tout US higher education as the finest in the world, dispassionate research finds remarkably little average student growth in college in, for example, writing, critical thinking, and now, yes in employment. 

It is an unpopular yet ever more evident truth that how we end up may well be more a function of socioeconomic status  and peers than any difference between School A and School B, let alone teaching tactic A vs tactic B. Yet, even if data doesn't support the power of education, we somehow deeply believe that all those years, all that money, all that effort on education has to make an important difference.

So let's assume that education matters and that it's worth our effort to try to optimize it for ourselves and for our children.

In my article today, I offer my best shot on how to do so from preschool through graduate school.

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