I want my kids to be smart. I want my kids to be intelligent. I want my kids to have common sense. I want my kids to be happy. These seem to be pretty basic things that I would imagine most parents want for their kids, amongst other things. Add healthy to the four I listed above, and you’ve probably got my top list. This has been a subject I’ve thinking about for a while. I’ve been wanting to write about this, but I’ve never really understood how, or exactly what I wanted to say, but watching the campaign, and ultimately watching the election results on Tuesday gave me exactly what I was looking for. I was watching with the kids, and they were asking all the questions you’d expect people their age to ask, and it was good. Time and time again during the night one of the pundits would bring up some stat talking about how one candidate or the other was doing “amongst College educated white women” or how another one was doing amongst “non college educated men.” Now I understand the nature of statistics is such that you need to find ways to put people into smaller groups. I get that level of education is a fairly obvious way of accomplishing this. The issue that I take with it is the correlations people were drawing. “Well obviously Hillary is doing better amongst the college educated…” or “These poor non-college educated people they were manipulated and fell for what Donald was selling.” Now before everybody runs off thinking this is some political piece and I’m going to be taking one side or the other, it’s not, and I’m not taking a side. Well actually I am taking a side, I’m not happy that Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States, I am equally unhappy as I would have been if Hillary won. I voted for Gary Johnson. Yes I know he didn’t know where Aleppo was, much less that it’s a city. I don’t care, even with the gaffes that he had, I felt he was still a better choice than either of the two major party nominees. I felt like we could do better. I felt like we could do much better…. and that’s what I want to talk about today.
How do we do better? How do we raise the level of social discourse? How do we become a more intelligent society? I think that’s the main question that needs to be answered. We get a more intelligent society everything else falls into place. Right now according to the U.S. Dept. of Education 14 percent of Americans can’t read, 19 percent of high school grads can’t read, and almost 50 percent read at or below an 8th grade level. Take that with the fact that 27 percent of adults admitted to not reading a book within the last year. If 27 percent admitted to not reading a book, what’s the percentage that actually didn’t read one? 45 maybe 50 percent? The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the last survey first asked people if they could read before they asked if they actually read a book? Now with all this talk about raising the intelligence of an entire population, I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go to college. Far from it. I understand the world needs ditch diggers too, and ditch diggers don’t need a degree. I would however contend that we do need ditch diggers with a decent head on their shoulders and some common sense. Along these lines you may have heard of Mike Rowe, he’s got an amazing foundation (www.profoundlydisconnected.com) where he’s doing great work around getting people non college skills to be a productive member of society. It’s a great foundation, please go check it out. Back to this idea of raising intelligence. How do we accomplish this? I think it’s actually pretty straight forward. We simply stop lowering the bar. We expect more. We expect more out of ourselves, we expect more out of our kids. We engage in conversations where our goal is to learn something and not to talk next. We maintain our curiosity. We don’t shy away from asking questions. We allow ourselves to feel insecure for a minute and ask the stupid question. We turn off the damn TV and open a book or a magazine. That long list still qualifies as straight forward right?
We raise our kids with the stated goal of making them productive members of society who have something to give back. We share this goal and expectation with them. How amazing would that be if every kid grew up understanding that the expectation on them is that they be productive members of society? We do that for a generation, do we have another version of Hillary and Donald running for President in 32 years?