Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pondering what it takes to be a success in life?

Goodness it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  Most days I think I'm going to get around to posting something but then I get distracted by a "to do" list longer than my day.  Why is it that all the little stuff takes up so much more time than you think it will?

If you've been following me you will know that it's marching band season and this year I am serving my first year as the Music Booster President.  Eeep!  How did that happen?  I'm not sure, I keep asking myself how I found myself in this position and my oldest is still only in 10th grade.  (Wait, did I say only in 10th grade - how did she get that old?  It feels like weeks ago that she was in elementary school.)

Oh well, here we are deeply into the marching band season, practices to drive kids to & from, flags to cut, pin, sew, football games & competitions to chaperone, events to plan, fundraisers to participate in, and so on. Clearly I spend a fair amount of my time dealing with my kids school stuff.  So, today  I'm pondering what education gets us at the end of the day?

I'm continuing my struggle to balance the urge to create with my lack of business skills that would enable me to make a living from creating.  A couple of years ago I attend a seminar for artists trying to be entrepreneurs, I think the most enlightening/depressing moment was when we were informed that to be a "successful artist" we should spend approximately 70% of our time being business people.  Ack!  I have long felt that each person is given a certain amount of skills that come naturally.  Some of us are gifted musicians, some artists, some business persons, some chefs, some teachers, some doctors/nurses, etc. and naturally we gravitate to things we are good at doing, but is that enough?  I don't think so. We can all learn new skills, if we put our minds and hearts and time into the process.  Some of those additional skills must be business oriented no matter where your gifts are or your inclinations direct you.  But, why is it so hard for many of us to wrap our brains around some of the most basic business concepts? I can make beautiful objects or teach interesting classes but I have yet to learn a successful strategy to promote those things so I can actually earn a living from them.

I wonder if they could offer basic principles of business as a standard school subject?  Think about it, a lot of kids hate school because they see very little practical purpose behind studying history or sciences that they know they will never ever use when they graduate.  I personally see all learning as a positive and would never suggest we remove them from the curriculum anywhere.  But we will all need to balance our checkbooks, keep track of budgets and learn how to sell/promote ourselves - even if only to HR people when we are applying for jobs.  This is no longer a world where you take one job that will last for your lifetime.  Most people will have not just multiple jobs in their lives but multiple career tracks, changing focus at least once if not several times.  The one core is that we will still have to manage the businesslike details of life no matter the field you are pursuing. 

Beyond that, we also have to make our lives outside of work a success.  Are we still preparing people to do that?  Wouldn't it be interesting if schools returned basic life sustaining classes to the curriculum?  I know it's hard to create standardized tests for things like sewing & cooking, but we could all benefit from learning those dying arts.  Once upon a time we all had to take "Home Ec" classes and some of us had to take "shop" classes because they were preparing us for our careers as "homemakers" or machinists/laborers.  The world has changed and those shop classes are not the career prep they once were.  Those "Home Ec" classes are looked back on as quaint, but in reality we could really use them now.  They are not "bird courses" that you can just fly through without paying attention.  In this busy world few parents have time (or skills) to cook and therefore can't pass those skills on to their kids, and fewer have the skills to sew a garment or even fix a hem or sew a button.  I can't count the number of college kids I helped learn to cook or even do their own laundry, those things I could help with; but heaven forbid anyone asked me to help write write a resume, apply for a job/grant or for help with sales or interview skills. 

I look at my daughter's intimidating honors/AP class schedule and can't think where you could squeeze in a class on basic life skills, and wonder how I can teach her the aspects that I am still struggling to learn myself?  Am I alone?  Are mine the only kids who are getting a "good education" but without some of those most basic life/business skills to actually make a success of their lives? 

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