4 Things I Hope My Kids Never Learn in School

by Dan Johnston

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1. You Learn You Are Your Weakest Link, Not Your Greatest Strength

The GPA system strongly favours having a wide-reaching average intelligence over specific strengths. An A+ will award you a 4.33. I believe a C- is a 2.0, a D is a 1.66, and a fail is a 0. If you need a GPA of 3.7 to achieve some kind of goal, you will be damaged far worse by a C-, or even a C+, than you will be rewarded for an A+.

In a perfect system this could actually be advantageous, because it would push students to focus on their strengths and grow them. The problem is, at both a high school and university level, the course selection is too limited to ever specialize. So students are forced to take easy, pointless and uninteresting classes for the easy A or to struggle with subjects outside their strengths.

In addition, younger students don’t often know their real strengths. Students are forced to determine their “strengths” based on their grades. But often these grades are a reflection of external circumstances such as poor teaching or trouble outside of class.

In The Real World?
Honestly, I am glad I had a diverse education. I still think about my Physics class whenever I am Go-Karting or Sky Diving, apply Chemistry to cooking or keeping warm, and use math daily.

Yet, none of these areas will lead to any significant accomplishments in my life. In the real world only those who focus on one or two strengths succeed. How is Usain Bolt at Math? Does President Obama bust out his table of the elements on a daily basis?

In order to achieve great success you have to FOCUS all your energy and knowledge in one area. This is the reason Will Smith stopped rapping (OK…perhaps not the only reason).

2. You Learn To Play It Safe… Instead of Just Learning To Play

There are some absolutely amazing and inspiring teachers and professors, and I am grateful to have had them…about 50% of the time.

The rest? They’re still around because of Unions and a system that rewards years on the job over ability or passion. It’s a system designed to keep teachers on staff long after their fire has burnt out.

And what can a student learn from these “role models”? Just play it safe and wait for your pension baby!

Then there are the “What the hell else can I do with an English Degree?” teachers. You know exactly who I’m talking about. They’re not passionate about teaching, education or the future of our youth….they just didn’t want to serve tables anymore, and 10 weeks of holidays per year sounded great.

And what can a student learn from these “role models”? Just play it safe and take the easiest road you can find!

In the real world?
The Universe rewards those with a definite purpose who take action and risks towards achieving their goals. The teacher who took a risk and turned down a lucrative job to pursue her passion of changing kids’ lives: Amazing Role Model.

The teacher who didn’t have many other options and settled: Terrible.

The fact that they’re both paid the same: I just puked a little.

3. You Learn To Build Your Resume… Instead Of Your Character

The University I attended recently implemented a new component to their Commerce Department admission process. I think the students call it “The Anti-Asian Test”.

Seriously.

Previously the departments only criteria for admission was grades. They had so many complaints from employers about their graduates being soulless nerds who couldn’t think for themselves they were forced to change.

So now there is an essay component, as well as a review of things like work experience and extra curricular activities. This is a step in the right direction, although it is only a matter of time before the super nerds shift their focus from studying to robotic volunteering and internships.

Maybe one day they will add a component around personal character and a question about your purpose. Why do you want this degree and what are you going to do with it?

In The Real World?
Your character and the emotional intelligence you develop from overcoming difficult situations mean 10x more than any resume boosting job you worked, IQ, or technical skill you’ve developed.

4. You Learn you only need a single bed, your own room, and a bottle of Babyduck “Champagne” to be a desirable prospect to college aged girls

In The Real World?
Some things never change!

– By Dan Johnston

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Comments 4

  1. I think it's challenging to separate character from resume. Individuals obviously have intrinsic characteristics, but what is most valued is our: experience, ability and accomplishments. If not in a general sense certainly in a professional one.

  2. The idea of building a resume for the resume's sake is what makes me throw up a bit. Like photocopying stuff at an awesome company doesn't really count as experience or build your character/abilities.

  3. Recently coached a job applicant in downplaying her Grades and pushing her ability to create opportunities out of problems plus share that information in a clear manner. She got a professional job with a company that turned her down before. Soft skills make success easy and fun.

  4. Last year interviewed a Retired Nursing teacher who told me of getting a class of the worst students and turning them around by getting them to work together as a team, all got A's. Ministry of Education said no – there must be only some who do great and some who fail – according to the great "Bell curve".

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