OpEd

Story published: 08-20-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Education remains key to success


“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle 

Dr. Ben Carson, born into ghetto poverty and failing in school, recalls the efforts of his illiterate mother who turned off the TV and took both him and his brother to the library weekly. She required they read two books a piece and submit book reports to her. Unable to read, she would look at the reports a while, then check them signaling she had approved them.   

Soon, Ben found he enjoyed reading. He realized that education was the only way out of poverty, eventually becoming a world-renowned brain surgeon.   

As we begin the school year, we need to encourage our children to learn, be it arithmetic, social science, physics, agriculture, reading, history, etc.   

And parents/grandparents are important for this. School systems can only do so much. They are burdened with many things that detract from the individual attention our children need. 

So, we must and should fill the gap. 

The mantra that “learning should be fun” is not always true. It’s hard work for students and parents.

I remember having to memorize addition and multiplication tables to 12. It was difficult. I missed playing with friends until I learned them.

But today, while I can’t always remember where I put my keys, I do pretty well with arithmetic using the tables I memorized.

TV comedians and  commentators show the absolute ignorance of some of our college age students concerning our history and our Constitution. “Tough” questions like:

“Who did we fight in the Revolutionary War?” “In World War II?” “What did George Washington do?” “When was the Declaration of Independence signed?” “Who fought in the Civil War?” go unanswered or are wildly and incorrectly answered. 

These are things we older folks had to learn starting in first grade. Amazingly, some of these respondents say they are studying to become educators!  

Knowledge of our history is invaluable to the preservation of the nation. I have been encouraged reading about innovative history programs at some of our schools as well as those of the Heritage Alliance in Jonesborough. We need to keep this focus and keep teaching our children about the greatness of our country.  

We hold in high regard the athletic achievements of individuals in our schools. These are hard fought achievements with hundreds of hours of practice and training outside of school. Currently, one school has baseball practice twice a day for two to three hours per session.  

It takes a similar commitment to help our children excel in all academic studies, from library visits and reading (KEY to everything), to learning math tables and practicing math problems, to the arts and music, and trips to historic sites and museums, many of which are in the local area. 

Yes, practice and finding creative ways to get our kids excited about learning are needed for academic success.

As parents and grandparents, we are the lifeline to the future of our children/grandchildren. Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving and can never be taken away. Let’s help our teachers help our kids receive that gift.