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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Extra Credit

When I was in school I only learned TWO things about credit! First, I learned that if I turned some work in to my teacher that was beyond what was required, I received 'extra credit' which improved my grades. Second, I learned in a high school accounting class (an elective class) that deposits to my checking account were called credits. That was it!

Throughout the post-high-school-graduation portion of my life I have actually had no further interaction with either of these two concepts. My employers have never offered any extra credit tasks, although I have volunteered and performed tasks regularly that were beyond what was required. Unfortunately, and quite contrary to what I learned in school, my extra efforts at work were not immediately rewarded with a pay hike for each extra effort. Welcome to the real world! Regarding the whole deposits are called credits thing, well my checkbook register includes BOTH terms anyway - "Deposits/Credits" - so nothing important there.

What the real world (not the television show) has required me to know about credit was not something I learned about during my public school education at all. The real world taught me that if I wanted to buy something expensive (my second car, for example - 'cause my first car was a $200 POS) I would need to apply for a loan. OK, no problem. Then I learned that the requirement to get a loan approved was that I have CREDIT, with a good credit score. Hmmm, I had NO credit and had NO score...therefore, loan denied. Why didn't somebody tell me this was coming???

Eventually, I was exposed to the vicious cycle of:
> you can't get a loan without having credit and
> you can't get credit without having some kind of loan...duh!

With a little help, I learned how to "break-in" to this circuitous torture track. After many years of revolving around this track, I am not so sure it was the right decision, though! I am still learning on a regular basis how financial decisions I made when I was fresh out of high school have negatively affected my life and the lives of my family. Yes, I have had nice cars, a home and a business - all because of credit and loans. On the other hand, I have also had them all taken away -  all because of credit and loans (and a super bad economy).

My point for all of this talk about credit is that I believe the public educational system epically failed to provide me with the right knowledge I needed to make competent financial decisions. Therefore, based on my own financial experience, I make my next suggestion that we push our public schools to implement a mandatory class on financing and credit. Let's teach our children instead of forcing them to "wing it."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Are You Happy?

Another concept that I did not learn through my public education is that HAPPINESS is a choice. Perhaps more of us would be happy if we learned this early on in our lives. Happiness is a perspective much like having a positive attitude. It's all about learning how to hold on to that perspective. The two, happiness and  positive attitude, go together. Perceiving the glass as half full, rather than half empty, and being thankful and happy about it shows the close relationship between the two concepts.

Think about how many people blame other people for their UNhappiness. Think more about it, especially if this concept is new to you. According to experts, happiness comes from your internal judgement about your situation. If you judge your situation to be good, you are happy. If you judge your situation to be bad, you are unhappy. Put a little positive attitude into those judgements and you'll find that you will be able to judge more of your situations as good and you will therefore find yourself happier! Consider this quote:

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

- Abraham Lincoln
If we were all knowledgeable about the nature of happiness, I think more people would be happy. I also believe there would be a lot less prescriptions written for mind/mood altering drugs. Simply, the world would be a happier place in which to live! Let's push the system to get this item into The Right Knowledge that we teach our children. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Is The Right Knowledge?

What Is The Right Knowledge?

The first step I am going to take in my approach to suggesting ideas for what should be included in the Right Knowledge that we teach our children is to take a brief look at the current public school curriculum. By doing so maybe we can  answer the following questions. Does the current curriculum fall short of teaching our children the right knowledge that will help them build successful, peaceful relationships? Does it fall short of teaching our children how to become knowledgeable and competent parents in their future? Does it fall short of teaching them how to be successful and prosperous?

I examined the requirements for seniors for high school graduation in Mississippi for 2011-2012 and later. The majority of the requirements were occupied by the English, Math, Science and Social Studies staples. These four subjects comprised nearly 61% (14 of the required 23 credits) of the required credits to graduate. The remainder of credits required were as follows:

    Business & Technology - 1 credit
    Fine Arts - 1 credit
    Health - 0.5 credit
    Physical Education - 0.5 credit
    Advanced Seminar - 1 credit
    Electives - 5 credits

I also found out that the total required credit to graduate was recently lowered from 25 to 23! Social studies was reduced by one credit (from 4 credits to 3), equivalent to a 25% reduction from the previous level. The Math requirement increased 1 credit (from 3 credits to 4). Physical Education increased to 0.5 credit from zero. And Electives were reduced from 7.5 credits to 5 (equivalent to a nearly 36% reduction).

I understand what they were doing with some of these changes. For instance, I believe that standardized testing results show that we are falling behind the rest of the world in math knowledge - so let’s increase math! And I assume that, as a nation and as a state,  we are a leader in obesity - so let’s increase physical education! Why reduce the overall required total of credit, though? Why reduce social studies, which is the one place we might find some room to teach children how to build healthy relationships and tolerance and acceptance of different cultures?

The problem from my perspective with the curriculum is there is no obvious structure from which we teach our children the Right Knowledge so they are properly equipped for the future to be competent, effective parents; skillful communicators and relationship builders; and capable of financial success and prosperity. To answer my questions from above, I think we fall miserably short of teaching our children the Right Knowledge.

So, again, what is the Right Knowledge? I have mentioned in a previous posting that the most important suggestion I have is to make room for a mandatory course on how to build a healthy child/parent relationship with their (future) children. In other words, teach our children how to become competent, knowledgeable and effective parents! Teach our children parenting skills between the ages of 14-16, BEFORE most of them become parents and are forced to “wing it” like I had to do!

The next most important curriculum ingredient I have for suggestion is to teach our children the importance of a Positive Attitude and how to maintain that attitude, especially during difficult times. Positive attitude is an essential ingredient to success! One of the few common denominators shared by all successful people is that they have a positive attitude. If we want successful children and we want them to grow up to be successful adults, then we must include this essential SKILL!

Teaching positive attitude may not even require a separate structured course. It should be intertwined into every course as more of a theme for learning and success. It should be every school’s philosophical perspective and approach to teaching! If there were a course, it would more likely be a course taught to the TEACHERS so that they can be guided in how to incorporate positive attitude building skills into all if the courses that they teach.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Part 5 of 5 - Summary and Conclusions

This is a continuation from the entry dated 8/26/2011...

Part 5 of 5 - Summary and Conclusions

I am not proposing to have all the answers. I am searching for answers in earnest that will promote discussion, debate and positive changes toward making our world more peaceful and prosperous.

Part 1 - summary
Used to whet the palate and announce that I had a secret theory on how to achieve global peace and prosperity. I must say now that it may not be an absolute secret. I am sure that I am not the only one asking questions and proposing ideas on this subject. Therefore, it is not unrealistic to think that others before me have ‘discovered’ the ‘secret’, too! I want to make it clear that I am not claiming any kind of exclusive or original ownership of what I have called “my” theory.

Part 2 - summary
Through observations, questions and logic, I conclude that children are our future. Procreation is our #1 most important job at securing the future of human existence and we do it well. (Probably too well, as I think about our exponential, rabbit-like population growth.) Furthermore, I deduce that our children’s knowledge and experiences will influence how they will run our planet when it comes their time to assume that role. I make another leap and propose that adults/parents have a large influence on the knowledge and experience that our children accumulate and that how we influence their experiences and what we teach them is our #2 most important job. I state that this is the job where we are currently failing our children. And finally, (since we are currently systematically destroying each other and our planet in so many ways) I propose that we should think more carefully about how we treat them and what we teach them.

Part 3 - summary
After examining some examples, I propose that how a child learns to relate to their parents when they are young greatly influences how they relate to others when they are older. From this proposition I make the assumption that the child/parent relationship is the ‘relationship foundation’ on which all other relationships are built in the future. Ultimately, I propose that the first ingredient of “the right knowledge” to make available to our children in mandatory high school classes is - how to build a healthy child/parent relationship with their (future) children.

Part 4 - summary
I state that I believe child-like behavior is prevalent and seen in many adult relationships.

And now, Part 5
The secret is now partially out within these first 5 posts. I believe that the biggest obstacle to peace, (although there are many obstacles), is that people just don’t seem to get along well with each other. I see this as the root of the problem. We all have a very low threshold of toleration for other people, their ideas, their behaviors, their cultures, etc. If we can just figure out what it is that would enable us to get along better, then we just might be able to live together on this planet harmoniously in peace and prosperity.

If the child/parent relationship is improved, I believe all future relationships would be improved. This would include an improvement in relationships such as: 

My vision is that after generations of gradual improvement in the above relationships, that we would see improvements in the following relationships:

    and so on, until eventually, we reach the goal of greatly improved relationships between:

The crux of the theory is my belief that in order to get along better we must carefully consider how we influence the experiences of our children, especially the parent/child relationship, and we must build a wiser curriculum of education so that our children are taught the right knowledge. I firmly believe that the future existence of the planet and human existence depends on how we handle this responsibility.

The remainder of the entries of this blog will be to examine and open for discussion ideas for exactly which knowledge should be included in the “right knowledge” that is taught to our children. Please, feel free to make suggestions and comments.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Part 4 of 5 - Have You Seen Child-like Behavior In Adults?

This is a continuation from the entry dated 8/24/2011...

Part 4 of 5 - Have You Seen Child-like Behavior In Adults?

From my limited research and experience on the subject of parent/child relationships, I realize that there are many developmental psychologists that would agree that my assumptions and conclusions are accurate and ‘common knowledge’ within their profession. However, I also know there are those in the same field that theorize that the parent/child relationship tends to stand alone.

These theorists have presented evidence from studies performed that the parent/child relationship has very little significance in relationships that evolve outside the home environment, especially the peer to peer relationship. I must say that despite any such evidence from studies, and in light of what we see right in front of our eyes every day, it is obvious to me that child-like behaviors born from parent/child relationships pervade all aspects of our adult relationships.

We see child-like behaviors in the many different approaches that people use (begging, pleading, pouting, crying, yelling, threatening) to manipulate each other in order to “get their way,” get what they want, control each other, get each others' attention. Whichever approach worked best for them as a child appears to be the “go to” or default approach as an adult. Am I wrong? Have you seen behaviors like this? Is there something wrong with my reasoning? These are not rhetorical questions. I am searching for answers. I am not an expert in psychology or child development. I am just observing behavior and looking for ways to logically explain the origin of the behavior.

 To be continued…

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Part 3 of 5 - The Relationship Foundation - Child/Parent Relationships

This entry is a continuation of the entry dated 8/22/2011...

Part 3 of 5 - The Relationship Foundation - Child/Parent Relationships

Continuing the examination of how relationships influence our experience, let’s look into another example. An example that demonstrates how early relationships with parents can play out in future relationships with others is how a child learns to get the attention they desire. And getting attention is a huge issue…we all crave and bathe in the attention from others, don’t we? The attention relationship process, in many cases, evolves like this:

     - Child expects or assumes that when they speak or act they will get some parental attention. If this fails to get the parent‘s attention…
    - Child asks, demands or maybe begs for the attention. If this fails…

    - Child pouts, cries or ‘acts out’. If this fails…

    - Child becomes angry, aggressive, throws a tantrum. If this still doesn’t work, the child’s behavior becomes progressively worse, vengeful and out of control. Unfortunately, due to the parent's ignorance, the child’s now aberrant behavior is usually explained and rationalized as being acceptable! For example, “aw, he’s just like his daddy, boys will be boys, etc…” Well, I have news for all of us, being angry and aggressive is normal behavior for a child that has been denied the attention they need and deserve, BUT it is NOT acceptable. It is my non-professional opinion that the parent is at fault here and they are usually not even aware of this fact. They have unknowingly, unintentionally and behaviorally participated in the creation of their little monster!

How many adults have you witnessed displaying this same ‘child-like’ behavior? It is frighteningly familiar, isn’t it? I can’t even begin to count how many times I have seen adults revert to using the same attention-getting techniques with loved ones, friends, family and associates that they learned as a child to use with their parents. These ’child-like’ behaviors become so ingrained into the fabric of personality that most adults are not even aware that they are using them!

This demonstrates my point that, to are large degree, how a child learns to relate to their parents when they are young greatly influences how they relate to others when they are older. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that the child/parent relationship is the ‘relationship foundation’ on which all other relationships are built in the future. Furthermore, if this relationship assumption is indeed a fact, shouldn’t learning about this subject be an important part of what I have talked about as “the knowledge made available” to our next generation? I certainly believe so.

As a reiteration, the point here is that if we, as parents and as a society, make the right knowledge available to our children when they are young adults, they will be much less likely to repeat the same mistakes their elders have made. They will be less likely to create mother and/or father issues with their own children. As a result of their knowledge, they will raise children that will be be less likely to manipulate relationships by pouting, crying, throwing tantrums and becoming vengeful or aggressive. I believe that once these children get "the right knowledge" and have children of their own, they would simply get along better with their children and, in theory, their children would get along better in all their future relationships as well!

Based on the examples above, I propose that the first ingredient of “the right knowledge” to make available to our children is:
    #1) How to build a healthy child/parent relationship.

I can attest to the fact that I certainly did not get exposed to this knowledge at home, in public schools nor when I brought home any of my three children from the hospital…and I don’t think I am a rare case of isolated ignorance. I have never seen or had made available to me an owner's manual for having children. How many of you can attest to this same fact? I don't think we should be made to hunt down this information ourselves. It should be made available! Anyone agree?

If our global society would implement this 'first ingredient' into the mandatory school curriculum, by adding child psychology classes in high school for example, it would fulfill both objectives - making some of "the right knowledge" available to our children and positively shaping the relationship experiences of our children. This alone would be an easy first step forward and a giant leap toward global peace.

To be continued…

Monday, August 22, 2011

Part 2 of 5 - Unveiling The Secret To Global Peace And Prosperity

This entry is a continuation of the entry dated 8/21/2011...

Part 2 of 5 - Unveiling The Secret To Global Peace And Prosperity

Today I will begin to unveil what I believe is the secret to global peace and prosperity. I will walk you down the exact same path of discovery that I followed. Here we go -

My first assumption is that the vast majority of citizens of Earth desire global peace and prosperity. This may be a stretch, but I believe it to be true. Since we cannot currently claim to have it, and it is assumed that the majority of global citizens desire it, then how do we achieve global peace and prosperity?

I start with the fact that the future of our planet and human existence, which is now in our incapable hands, will soon be in the hands of our children - the next generation. Children are our future. Our #1 most important job to influence the future of the planet and ensure human existence is to procreate. We must have children to ensure human existence on the planet. Then, I follow that fact with the assumption that how our children will run the planet will largely be influenced by their collective knowledge and experience; just as we now run the planet based on our own current knowledge and experience. If you can agree with that assumption, then the next thought is rather obvious, but here it is - The knowledge made available to our children and the experience they undergo as they mature are extremely important to the future of our planet! If you can accept that, then you probably see some logic beginning to develop:

    > The future of the planet is influenced by YOUR children’s knowledge and experience.

    > YOU have an influence over your children’s knowledge and experience.

    >Therefore, YOU have an influence on the future of the planet!

Logically speaking then, the #2 most important job we have to influence the future of the planet and human existence is to properly influence our children’s knowledge and experience.

Following this line of logic, the progression of questions becomes - Which knowledge should we make available to our children? What are these influential experiences and how can we, as parents and educators, shape these experiences? In what ways should we shape these experiences? Let’s examine these questions.

Which knowledge should we make available to our children? The majority of knowledge that we make available to our children comes from some basic sources that we can identify - it comes from us, as parents; it comes from teachers at our schools; it comes from the internet searches that our children perform; and it comes from relationships that our children build. As parents, we have varying degrees of control and influence over these sources. Therefore, if we really want to influence the future of the planet, then we should consider it vitally important to figure out exactly HOW to control and influence the sources of knowledge made available to our children. Pinpointing which knowledge to make available that would have the greatest positive impact on global peace and prosperity is the key question. This is one area in which we, as a society and individually, have dropped the ball. I don’t believe we have figured out how to properly perform our #2 most important job to influence and ensure the future of the planet and human existence.  I will attempt to answer that key question as we proceed down this path of discovery.

What are these influential experiences and how can we, as parents and educators, shape these experiences? In what ways should we shape these experiences? The experiences that our children will encounter are obviously many and obviously diverse. However, there is one general category of experience that we can identify as a game-changer in how our children will eventually run the planet when it becomes their ‘turn‘. That category is RELATIONSHIPS. The relationships that our children develop during their lifetimes play a major role in the shaping of their experiences. Consider the following relationships:

    Parent / Child
    Family / Child
    Child / Child
    Teacher / Child
    Community / Child
    Religion / Child
    Region / Child
    Country / Child
    Planet / Child

Let’s start by examining the parent/child relationship since it is the first one that is built. A newborn and mother. A newborn and father. How they relate to each other early on in the relationship has a tremendous effect on their future relationship to each other as well as the relationships with others that develop later in life. There is a tremendous amount of human psychology research that supports this fact.

A ‘bad’ relationship between two people (or between two entities) can almost always be traced back to something that occurred early on in the development of the relationship. In many instances, that ‘something’ is incidental and completely unintentional. For example, how many times have you heard about someone that has a psychological problem finding out through therapy that their problem was because of “mother issues”? In order to work through the issue, the process likely involves forgiving mother because she did not intentionally cause the issue…she did not know what she was doing...she just didn’t know any better! 

This is where I have to point out that we, as a society, have failed! It goes back to the point about which knowledge should be made available. If the right knowledge had been made available to the mother, before becoming a mother, she would have known better and her child would never have developed the mother issues!

To be continued…