The Problem: An Aversion or Dissuasion From Life-Long Learning

If you’re an administrator or teacher in a school today, one of the phrases you have heard, spoken, believe and may even be passionate about is that one of the goals of education today is to create life-long learners.

That is indeed a worthy goal!  While it’s a message that can be conveyed to and embraced by students, it’s not necessarily one that was communicated to today’s students’ parents, those that may have significant experience in the workplace, or those who are retired and trying to live on their social security income.

Individuals in professional positions, like doctors and lawyers, need to maintain their certifications, and therefore need to continue their professional development.  Teachers must do the same.  Unfortunately, the usual practice of the workplace doesn’t necessarily value additional education, as supervisory personnel may think that such ambition means employees may not be as engaged with their job as they should be, could be vying for an advanced position, or could be seeking a change in career or workplace.  Promotion is awarded based on longevity, successes, experience/position at another company, or affability, and not necessarily on additional training and development, even if the employee shows initiative to embark on a course of study or a certification course on their own.

Further, while it’s honorable when one decides they’re going back to school, consider the teacher with a student loan balance and a Master’s degree.  The next logical step for them would be a Doctorate – but while a Master’s degree is anywhere from 30 to 60 credits, a Doctoral program usually consists of at least 60 credits, and with a price tag of around $1,000 or more per credit, many talented individuals may not want to pursue this path while they’re facing their current student loan debt situation, and those that have significant expertise may question whether or not such a program would have significant value in the marketplace, attaining the achievement just in time for retirement.

As for those individuals who would benefit from retraining for a new position in the workplace if they’ve been displaced due to downsizing, directional corporate shifts, or factory closures, and today, COVID and The Great Resignation, many cling to the “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mindset, rather than looking forward to the challenges presented by their need to know and be comfortable with the rapid changes in technology, social media and diverse team structures with individuals in various locations around the nation or in different parts of the world.  Our worldwide pandemic DIDN’T foster the “Work From Home” mindset – it created a “Work From ANYWHERE” realization!!  For those open to such adventures and commensurate compensation, the future is bright and exciting; however, for those whose goal it is to have the he traditional 9 to 5 job so that they can put down roots, buy a house, provide for their family and retire after a lifetime of valiant service and dedication to an employer and doesn’t want to be bothered with new technologies (I hope you’re laughing right now realizing that this is the equivalent of a unicorn today), the future is more than likely a bleak one.

Then there are those who know they need to be life-long learners, but because of pressing priorities and responsibilities, are unable to do so.  They are unable to take advantage of opportunities because they’ve been raised to be responsible individuals in both matters pertaining to their families and their finances.

There are also those who want nothing to do with any type of educational opportunities, believing they’ve had sufficient learning from their experiences.  They aren’t open to educational opportunities facilitated by those who have not had the same type of real-world experiences they’ve had, or by those who are significantly younger than they are, especially since they’ll be evaluating their work.  For them, it could be similar to reporting to someone much younger than they are in the workplace, which creating the possibility of being downsized by someone with significantly fewer years of workplace experience.  Unfortunately, these folks make up the communities of our nation, and they’re the ones whose taxes go to pay for public education.  They may also be the ones who are most vocal about teachers making a lot of money and having summers off.

Summers off?  Anyone who thinks like that has never visited a high school campus in the summer.  Band rehearsals, football practices, summer gym classes.  Preparation for the fall ramps up during the summer.

As for those who are tired of paying property taxes after their children have graduated and moved away, remember that the generation before you did that for you and your kids.  If that doesn’t make you reconsider, then it’s time to sell the house and move into an apartment.