The world has been going through a perceived crises for some time now. Unemployment rates are high around the globe and here in the United States the economy and jobs have been a pressing issue for the last decade.
During last November's elections there was a cry, by some folks, to elect people who will help the "job creators" - whatever that means. Never overly specific as to how those jobs would be created, the proponents of the "job creators" always tend to believe that giving economic breaks to, and loosening government regulations on, businesses will ultimately create those elusive jobs. But, I have a better idea! I've mentioned this in class many times to my university business students.
Here it is: do away with ALL government regulations on businesses. They can pollute as much as they want, ruin our water, air, and ground, to whatever extent they choose. They can also pay whatever wages they want as well...minimum wage laws would be done away with, totally. Soon, people would be hired in droves.
Plus, because there would be so much pollution, new companies would be formed to clean up all the mess our now non-regulated businesses would create. Ah...entrepreneurial ingenuity! Employment would boom! There would probably be more jobs than people to fill them.
Of course, there are MAJOR drawbacks. No one would be able to breathe clean air and respiratory sicknesses would skyrocket even further than they are now (the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries would then...need more employees too), our water would be a mess and unhealthy to drink unless heavily filtered, the plants grown in our ground would be contaminated (as would be the ground itself), the animals that ate the plants would, most likely, become less healthy (including us), and our overall health rates would deteriorate quicker than they are today (the U.S. is ranked 51st among nations of the world in life expectancy).
It is very, very, unlikely that the cleaner-uppers would be able to make our environment clean enough to negate the constant pollution emitted by the messer-uppers. And - most of us, and our children, and their children, and their children, would have an extremely tough time existing in such an environment, let alone have the money to buy much more than basic necessities.
But...people would have their precious "jobs."
It is interesting to me that people put jobs on a higher pedestal than quality of life. To paraphrase a Native-American Chief who was addressing the "White Man" about work and jobs - his words are so very prophetic: "What is this thing you call work? Everything you need is right here."
So, be careful what you wish for, strive for, and desire. Unless you fully think it through and attempt to make sure that it enhances the quality of life for everyone (including, of course, yourself), and everything, on this Earth...it can wind up being the cause of your own demise.
I'm a teacher. More specifically a university professor (as well as a keynote speaker, trainer and personal coach). Through my years of doing all these things, I've noticed something interesting...especially in higher education - the emphasis is on teaching, rather than learning.
Yes, I know that it's supposed to be the other way around, but it's not. The system has been set up so that students are motivated to get a degree, that's pretty much it. Learning doesn't always fall within that dimension. If you can pass your tests and do well in your research papers, you've done what you're supposed to do. What does that, ultimately, do for a person's mind? Not much, actually. I know how tests work, I've been administering them for years (and took them for years too). Memorize facts and figures, and on test day...be able to regurgitate them with precision. Three days later - those bits of information are pretty much forgotten. Papers? All too often they're sent through the academic sausage maker, cut and pasted, re-worded, and voila...a new brand of sausage emerges - cited and all!
The system is flawed. We live in the age of google and other search engines. Sure, you've gotta know which facts to take as true and which to disregard. But, who's to say that the books students are asked to buy for use in their classes are accurate? And - I write 'em! Need a fact? Look it up on your computer. Not sure about a formula? It's online. Suck at grammar? Your electronic device can help with that too.
Know how to think? Ehh...that's another matter. And, my friends - that's what we should be concentrating on. Teach people to think and use they're cognitive abilities and they will learn! Are we dumbing ourselves down in order to play the degree game? Hmm...I think we may be.
However, there are a few (other) sad pieces to this puzzle. First, by the time students graduate - they've become slaves. Yes, I said slaves. No, not the kind owned by someone who houses and feeds them, then sends them out into the field to plant or harvest crops. Nope...I mean a slave to the banks and loan agencies that helped "fund" their education. And the crazy part is that these slaves have to house and feed themselves! What an amazing world we live in!
The second piece is that we are closing our minds to the rest of what is around us. People are caught. Get a degree, get a job, pay back loans and more loans, get stressed, get sick, get health insurance, get medication, and on and on. You see, for many students, the cognitive thought process never has a chance to fully grow because they have to find a job as soon as possible (any job will do!) to begin to pay off their debt. Oh, the cycle of it all.
The alternative? Recognize that it's all a game - a mental construct - and when you get that, maybe you can change your perspective and take time to look around and think, laugh, experience, love, pull yourself out of the cycle (or not get into it in the first place), and mellow out a bit. Then, I think...you can really start to learn.
So...perhaps we can begin to change the way we educate by taking the emphasis off of tests, research papers, and grading, and putting the focus on learning. Of course, there are those who will say, "How do you know if someone's learning if you can't grade them through tests and research papers?" I have a solution (at least that's what I think). How 'bout teachers speak with their students, have open dialogue, stimulate their minds, get feedback (in fact...encourage it!), do fun, innovative, individual and group projects, even thought provoking papers (some of them may even need some research to substantiate a point or two), and listen to them. Most "good" teachers can tell who's learning and who's not.
I know it all sounds like a tall order, but - it can be done. Plus...make school very affordable. I know that we'll have to get creative, as a nation, when it comes to funding (perhaps a few less bombs, aircraft carriers, jets, or "special projects" could help fund our educational efforts). But, in the end...I'm sure it'll pay off!
What's the most important resource any country has? Its people - of course! Let's make sure our people know how to think. That may not be what some folks in power want. However, in the end, it'll make for a more educated and stimulated populace and a better, more innovative, world. Geez - wouldn't that be nice!