Tuesday, March 27, 2007 

Rigor, Competence, and Freedom

In the article from the New York Times on the 13th of December 2006, written by Thomas Friedman named, “Imagination will be necessary to succeed,” he states, “Rigor and competence, without freedom, will take China only so far.”

This statement was in response to the implication that Great Britain ruled the 19th century, America dominated the 20th century, and that China will dominate the 21st.

Friedman contends that freedom is a necessary component to a society’s ability to produce innovative products and services that offer premium wages for the workers who deliver such a product or a service.

China currently possesses an incredible manufacturing base and has improved its educational system so that there are increasing numbers of high school graduates. However; their lack of freedom, as exhibited by their national censorship of Google, and the existence of a Communist government, will be major roadblocks to their ability to turn out innovative thinkers.

On the other hand, Friedman notes, “Freedom, without rigor and competence, will take us only so far.” There is no question that America’s educational system has some major revamping to do if America is to remain the world’s standard in innovative thinking.

Considering how American students lag the students of other developed nations in the categories of reading, writing, math, and science; it is difficult to conceive that this standard is going to be upheld.

This notion has been under investigation for some time as a bipartisan commission consisting of a 27-member panel that includes former governors, senators, Cabinet secretaries, business and labor leaders, civil rights leaders, and education and job-training experts realized in an influential report by the National Center in Education and the Economy named, Tough Choices or Tough Times.

The report makes specific recommendations on how American education will have to change given that nations such as China and India are now producing large numbers of educated people willing to work for relatively low salaries.

“Over the past 30 years one country after another has surpassed us in the proportion of their entering workforce with the equivalent of a high school diploma, and many more are on the verge of doing so. Thirty years ago, the United States could lay claim to having 30% of the world’s population of college students. Today that proportion has fallen to 14% and is continuing to fall.” (National Center in Education and the Economy, 2006)

“What Americans still don’t realize is that our economic preeminence rests squarely on our education preeminence,” said Marc S. Tucker, NCEE’s president, “and we aren’t preeminent any more.”

It’s going to be the countries that produce the important new products and services that will maintain the technological lead, but technology is not the only factor to maintaining leadership.

“It depends on a deep vein of creativity that is constantly renewing itself, and on a myriad of people who can imagine how people can use things that have never been available before.”

The NCEE’s report summarizes where Americans need to strengthen themselves if they expect to succeed in the future globalized job market.

“Strong skills in English, mathematics, technology, and science, as well as literature, history, and the arts, will be essential for many; beyond this, candidates will have to be comfortable with ideas and abstractions, good at both analysis and synthesis, creative and innovative, self-disciplined and well organized, able to learn very quickly and work well as a member of a team and have the flexibility to adapt quickly to frequent changes in the labor market as the shifts in the economy become ever faster and more dramatic.”

If the problem with China is the lack of freedom, and the problem with America is the lack of rigor and competence, where does the happy medium lie? Obviously it lies in an increase in freedom for the Chinese, and an increase in rigor and competence with the Americans.

Without major overhauls of our educational systems we can expect a major widening in the gap of the haves and the have-nots in American society as we see routine work become more digitized, off-shored, or automated.

Without major advances in the causes of freedom of expression and religion in China, we most likely will see only an increase in the manufacturing base of the country’s economy, rather than an increase in innovative products or services.

The less educated of America will descend to true poverty and obscurity, while the less fortunate of China will descend into further slavery. Only countries with highly skilled workforces will be able to successfully compete in the emerging world marketplace, and it will be that country or workforce that combines the principals of freedom, rigor, and competency the most effectively.

Sunday, March 18, 2007 

Over the River and Through the Woods...

As all kids do when growing up, I dreamt of what I was to be when I was to become an adult. It is safe to say that I did not dream of working the equivalent of two full time jobs while attending classes and raising 5 kids. Not that I would not have it any other way, but...

...my childhood was spent dreaming of becoming an Astronaut. I attended 'Space Academy' when I was a sophomore in high school because this dream was inspired by the hours spent pouring over Astronomy books at my local library while waiting for my mom to get out of work.

My teachers always included on my report card that I seemed to have my head in the clouds during class, despite my good grades. Now that I think about it, they were right.

Well, it's safe to say that I'm no longer astronaut material. Who knows; had I fulfilled my dream, I may have had this chick stalking me and attempting to kill my wife!

It seems as if everything DOES work out for a reason.

What would qualify as one's dream job in America nowadays anyway? Is it a job that would catapult their name onto the front pages of papers worldwide? (Assuming your name wasn't Andrew Fastow or Anna Nicole Smith.) Or would you prefer relative anonymity while doing what you love.

I must say, after watching the movie Flicka with my kids this weekend, it would be amazing to have the opportunity to live in the high mountains of Wyoming, amongst the last refuge of wild mustangs in the world, and have a ranch where I could exhibit and teach my children the value of hard work; all the while appreciating the true beauty of God's handiwork in the unblemished natural American landscaping among the Grand Tetons.

Having the opportunity to manage a large parcel of land, care and feed for livestock, and to have no choice but to put in a hard day's work in order to survive- would benefit my soul as well as nourish and prepare the souls of my children for the tumultuous path of adulthood.

On the other hand, how my wife would fare without a Walmart nearby remains to be seen. Considering she is the descendant of 7 generations of pioneering American blood, I'm confident she would manage. In fact, she would most likely manage much better than I, as I imagine my softened-self attempting to care for a large scale ranch.

Upon further consideration, and coming upon the realization that I have a hard time managing my twenty square yards of front lawn- perhaps ranching is not quite suited for me.

It is just that, for some reason, existing as our pioneering American ancestors did, seems to be a more fulfilling and virtuous lifestyle than does our current one. The sleep experienced each night under the chirping of the native nightlife as a rancher would be sleep that was earned and appreciated.

If I were to do something I truly loved and would get excited to do every morning it would be to combine the aspects of living on a ranch and living the adventuresome lifestyle. Owning an adventure ranch would be more suited for me.

To own a ranch in the high mountains of Wyoming where river rapids could be accessible, horse riding lessons would be provided, hikes through some of God's most beautiful creations would be guided, rock climbing and repelling would be safely administered, and nightly cookouts over a massive fire pit filling the local air with wafting scents of roasting meat and impromptu guitar jams, would be my idea of the dream job in its dream location.

With our business skills recently realized, my wife's superb cooking skills, and my Bobby Flay-like grilling prowess, we could provide a place that would at the very least fill some stomachs with some amazing food after a hard day of adventuring.

To have the opportunity to establish a business where some of the most sought after adventure experiences would be provided to those who pound pavement daily, while having the ability to employ my kids in some rewardingly laborious tasks to provide the lessons needed to succeed in everyday life, sounds like a recipe for a successful family business.

To do all this while surrounded by majestic mountain majesties, broad plains to surround in solitude, and to be covered by a star studded night sky- would provide peace to the soul as well as an intimacy with the eternal nature of the world.

My goal is to soon replace the sound of rushing traffic with the hypnotic whoosh of a mountain breeze. I'd like to replace the competitive hustle of the sales life with the exhaustive labor of tour guiding for those who yearn to reconnect with the natural world. I'd like to replace the angst-ridden night of sleep with that of the sleep created by a need for my muscles to rest and strengthen.

A goal of this scope is not without its complexities; however, the lessons learned in the development of this goal would be the principals employed in the progression of this life's dream.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 

Class Assignment

-Make goals realistic and attainable

-Map out plan of action

-Communicate your goals to those relevant to the goal's completion

"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it." -Robert Heinlein


-Managing family

-Managing job

-Managing school

-Time to relax and recover

"What may be done at any time will be done at no time." -Scottish Proverb

Quality work:

-Is the result of setting attainable goals and good management of time.

-Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way... you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions." -Aristotle

About me

  • I'm Peakah
  • From White Mountains, Arizona, United States
  • ...this isn't who it would be, if it wasn't who it is...
Check Me Out
Listed on BlogShares
Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates