Scary Questions

My colleague Todd Lile and I have started a new Blog at I wrote the following post for that blog but thought it fit well here too.  Check out our other blog and sign up for an email subscription.  That blog should get pretty good in the near future.  Here is the post:

I was speaking at a Denver area high school recently, and I asked students from several classes to raise their hands if they wanted to be successful parents someday.  I asked them if they wanted to be good husbands and wives.  I asked them if they wanted to have successful careers with meaningful jobs.  I asked them if they wanted to have stable friendships and lots of personal interests.  Not surprisingly, 100% of their hands went into the air for each question.  After each question, I asked them to look around the room to see how many hands were in the air.  Then I asked a more interesting question.
I asked the students, “How many of you believe you will be successful in each of these areas as adults?”  Again 100% of their hands went into the air.  I asked them to look around as they giggled a bit with each other.  I applauded their optimism, and a sense of self confidence, pleased to see their belief in an unwritten future.  The next question was far more serious.

I asked students “How many of you know adults who are unsuccessful mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, employees, friends? How many of you know adults who did not do well in school?”  I paused after each category and had them look around.  100% of their hands were in the air each time signaling that they all knew adults who were failing.  I asked them a final question.  “How many of you believe that those same adults you know, who are unsuccessful in their educations, careers, families, and frienships, believed that they would be successful when they were your age and sitting in those seats?”  Silently they raised their hands understanding the point and contemplating the implications.

Where is the breakdown?  Why do so many teenagers who want to succeed, and believe they will be  successful after they graduate, fail to achieve when they enter the adult world?  Is this a sign of failing schools?  Could schools be doing a better job in preparing students for life after graduation?  The answer to this question is “yes” but I fear we have strayed so far away from the core purpose of schools, that many graduates head out into the world knowing a lot, but unfortunately are ill prepared to succeed across life situations.
Is our focus on test scores, school rankings, and teacher accountability, the very things pulling us further and further away from actually giving kids the kind of education that will prepare them for a brighter future?  Are our efforts to improve our schools the very things ensuring they will fail?

These are all scary questions.

    • I (State Your Name)
    • May 13th, 2010

    Great post.

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