Helicopter Parents: Undermining America’s Future

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I have great parents, they have always been vigilant when concerning my future while allowing me a reasonable level of autonomy.  I love them for allowing me that freedom; however, many of my friends live with a very different style of parenting.  Progressively, there are teeming numbers of “more involved”  caretakers, changing what it means to be a parent in the United States.  These Helicopter Parents, Go-Get-Em Dads and Tiger Moms, passionately push and prod their children so they are picture-perfect, giving them the best opportunities to make the most of life.  But these kids do not, they cannot; they never learned how to do anything for themselves.

Helicopter Parents, designated such as they hover around their children’s every decision and guide them along an optimized path,  are the bane of the modern college student’s self-initiative.  In college, even when these subdued children are continents away, this parenting style means the  umbilical cord is never cut; these kids cannot think for themselves.  Many young adults are in constant communication with their parents. Arthur Levine, a renown sociologist who studies college students, notes in his latest book Digital Natives and Their Customs  “One in five college kids are in touch with their parents three or more times a day, and 41 percent are in touch every day. ”  I hope many of these communications are simple text messages and Snapchats; inconsequential memos of nothing of significance.  But in the age of Helicopter Parents, these flurried texts and calls amount to the decision-making apparatus of too many college students.  This bodes poorly for America’s future.

The future workers of America are having their enterprising initiative diluted as they outsource decision-making to mommy and daddy.  This is not good, not for them and not for the country.   Empirical data indicates that those students afflicted with  helicopter parents have less accountability, worse grades, and are less satisfied with their lives.  Once their self-determination is undermined and stunted these children will never be able to forge their own healthy futures and identities.  The Helicopter Parents will just keep circling and circling, graying our collective future with apathetic colleagues incapable of seizing the day.  We will all lose out.

Education and The State: The Many Unique Methods of Breeding Culture and Human Capital

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classroom

Education has taken a new form in every civilization it has blessed.  John Dewey, a famed philosopher of modern teaching, identifies education as a societal schooling of the populace, based on principles, “founded upon the intrinsic activities and needs (including original instincts and acquired habits) of the given individual to be educated.”  Each unique civilization cultivates its personalized education system to protect itself and develop its intentions.  The goal of education is to best prepare a nation’s populace to sustain that nation; each spectrum of education, ranging between the athleticism of ancient Sparta, the liberal intellectualism of America, and the specialization of Germany, synergizes a unique educational system based on the necessities of the environment and ethos of the population to meet this goal.

Spartans’ education emphasizes military supremacy.  Rebellious territories and a weak agricultural sector allows King Lycurgus to create the first recognized educational system in the 9th century BC.  His goal is to create indomitable warriors who would be unsurpassable in physical athleticism, unmatchable in military tenacity, and endlessly loyal to Sparta.  In addition to Lycurgus’s objectives, Sparta place value on its fraternity with absolute obedience, valorous courage, and noble self sacrifice.  This Spartan zeitgeist was immortalized by Tyrtseus’s principled thoughts, “It is a noble thing to be in the front of the battle and die bravely fighting for one’s country.” The diehard camaraderie of the nation is the most central aspect of the civilization and that lesson taught throughout the Spartan’s education.  This nation of soldiers was unified by the threat of obliteration and was forged into an unstoppable regional power through its education.

The methods behind Spartan military supremacy are seen through their aggressive practices.  The trials of war began at birth; prospective baby Spartans were analyzed by councils of soldiers.  Babies with any imperfection were killed off or groomed for slavery, so they would not contaminate the race.  Upon boys reaching the age of seven they were put in public barracks, where they would train continuously with other boys in the methods of war.  This is the Spartan school.  Obedience would be infused into the recruit through whips and beatings.  Spartan fraternity was sculpted from the unified purpose of their shared education.  Self sufficiency was impressed in young Spartans; food was deliberately made scarce so the youth would be encouraged to steal their own sustenance.   As children matured into adults they would organize into military legions and receive education the use of heavy weapons.  When the boys reach age twenty they are declared Irenes. They would be promoted to the status of soldiers and spend their careers training with regular raids on the Helots, enslaved farmers, and wars with conflicting city states.  The children’s education straightforwardly trains them to be warriors.  The indomitable warriors of Spartan education are the end product of Lycurgus’s dream.  Future civilizations would learn from the Spartans original educational model.

In America, everyone is educated so they may achieve any lifestyle.  Since its foundation America has been greatly concerned with maintaining equal rights for all valued citizens.  As the country has modernized American unyielding desire for uniformly equal rights enabled education for the entire population.  The American educational system builds on this characteristic with core belief that the United States is a  meritocracy.  Americans call this concept, “rugged individualism.” They believe people must succeed or fail based solely on their own merits.  This belief is reflected in the liberal education model in America.  Regardless of personal inclinations or future plans all students are legally required to be schooled equally in a middle-of the-road education that prepares students a wide variety of careers.  Academic valedictorians and would-be dropouts sit side by side in the idealized American school.

The methodologies of America’s liberal education reflect its stone soup approach.  There are several distinct levels of education, each with the objective of enforcing a broad education upon every citizen.  In this manner every child is given equal opportunities.  Children generally go to preprimary schools at age three where they are taught how to be educated.  Subsequent tiers of education, elementary school and high school, build a foundation of skills which are applicable skills across a range of possible jobs.  After high school students are given the option to continue schooling or start a career.  The American ethos allows young adults to pursue whatever tract of life they want regardless of their action’s financial affordability.  Each citizen has equal rights and therefore decides their own education.  The merit of each student determines their success. The American education system is just framework which fosters student’s merit-based growth.  While success or failure is in the hands of American students other modern countries give far fewer options to their residents.

The German educational model establishes a middle ground between the extremes of the Spartan athleticism and American liberalism.  Since the Prussians dominated German culture nationalism has directed the German zeitgeist and it has become an underlying influence to German education.  Learning revolves around the state; by building the best civility the German society is guarantees its own survival.  Compulsory education forces children to become useful, they are not permitted from abstaining from their unwritten cultural duties, Germans feel, “one may choose among schools, but for most it is unthinkable that children do not go to school.” Everyone learns to maximize their utility.  By having the best collective nation the Germans endeavor to have the best collective human capital.

German schools are more strict than their American counterparts, but they are less war oriented than the Spartans.  German education begins at age six when kids are enrolled in Grundschule to learn basic language and math skills.  During this level of their education secondary school options are compiled by overseeing adults and algorithms.  Second tier of German schooling is branched into four separate paths; Hauptschule, Gesamtschule, Realschule, or Gymnasium.  Each type of education unique; schools like the Hauptschule direct students towards manual labor, the Gesamtschule and the Realschule train students for more complex and intellectual jobs, and the Gymnasium educates the innovators, engineers, and scientists of Germany.  In all of these specialized schools there is a strong emphasize on internships and on the job training to teach student life skills while preparing them for their careers.  The end result of the German education system is a diverse work force full of specialized labors who collaborate to do what is best for the country.  This model limits options, but maximizes potential.

The perceived needs and underlying values of these three societies were met by their respective educations.  Sparta thought warriors were needed and prized fraternity, so soldiers were educated.  America values equal rights and rugged individualism and gave its citizens an education that combines meritocracy with rugged individualism.  The Germans wanted the best worker on the assembly line and best experts fostering the next generation; their multi-tier educational system is a manifestation of these ideals.  Each of these systems of education made their countries powerful and respected by creating a more adaptable population.  The immediate importance of an nationwide education is an empowered citizenry; however, the more significant reward comes from spreading that education at every opportunity to better lives of everyone on Earth.  From this altruism comes joy and prosperity.

India Invades Tablet Market: $35 “Aakash” Goes Viral In India’s Education system

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Apple’s Ipad 2: $499

Amazon’s Fire: $199

India’s Aakash: $35

Connecting 220 million students with the world’s cheapest tablet: Priceless.

India - Kids - 063

India drives to connect rural students

What is The “Aakash“?

It is a low-cost, high-performance computer tablet, price at $35 per device.

It is designed to proliferate knowledge through education in India, especially in rural regions. Despite its rock bottom price it still displays a 7 inch screen, plays high-definition video, streams video chatting, hosts word processing, runs Android 2.2 operation system, possesses 32 gigabyte memory, uses GPRS for connecting to the Internet from anywhere, and uses WiFi for Youtube streaming in hot spots. The Indian government will subsidized each table down to $35.  This is ideal for university students because it allows them to build better human capital with their limited resources.  Previously, many have been cut off from the rest of the world due nonexistent infrastructure.

The English translation of Aakask is “sky.”  This tablet’s release will mark the beginning of a new dawn in education in India and the world.

What Does Aakash Mean For The Tablet Market?

Datawind, the private company manufacturing Aakash, announced that the tablet will be priced at $60 dollars for the commercial market. It will be on shelves by November.  This will encroach on the tablet war already progressing in India; currently Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7 holds just under half the market and less than one in five tablets is an Apple Ipad.  Dozens of other models struggle for niches.  The vanguard shipment of Aakash tablets numbers 100,000.  When this large-scale field test proves successful eight to ten million more will be bought by the Indian government.

Undercutting the more expensive tablets the Aakash will force innovation and a price war.  Aakash forces a technological survival of the fittest; the best and cheapest technologies will overthrow the more expensive models.  The economist term for this is creative destruction.

Unless other companies build a better tablet they very simply will be locked out of the market.  The cunning Indian government will disseminate cheaper and higher quality tablets, with internet access, by forcing the hand of the private sector.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Indian Education?

At the unveiling today Kapil Sibal, the Indian Human Resource Minister, aptly described Aakash’s historic significance,

“There are some moments in history that will be milestones recognised by future generations. This is one such milestone. Today, we see the beginning of a dream realised, a dream in which every student in every corner of this country will have access to technology that defines the 21st Century.”

By bringing the world to the fingertips of their students schools towards increasing the quality of education exponentially.  Answers to impossible questions will be just a click away.

It also forces the hand of Western education.  Already, towns and cities across the Western world have already launched similar educational initiative.  This is not enough; every statistic points to American and European students falling behind their Chinese and Indian counterparts.  Many American colleges already distribute laptops, tablets must be given to the coming classes if American schools are to stay competitive.  Otherwise, American education will fall victim to creative destruction.

The Fantastic College Expedition: Of Sports and Friends

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Since the beginning of time, and well before the start of creation, I have always done a sport.  I started with soccer and then I switched to baseball.  None of those outdoors sports really suited me; I got bored and distracted.

This might have actually happened to me.

Then along came hockey, which I loved.  I guessed the main reason I liked the icy sport was I just happened to be good at it.  Back in the day I was a giant, dwarfing the various kids around me.  It was so bad that sometimes I was a head and shoulders above the rest

This height advantage translates directly into a major advantage.  Since I was the largest I was the strongest, since I was the strongest I was the best.  I was a champion, I was important.  I liked being notable, I liked being a winner.  I was instrument in winning two or three state championships.

For a while I was on Cloud 9.

Then everyone else started to grow and I did not.  I simply finished growing in the seventh grade; everyone else is still growing to this day.  As I slowly descended into the middle of the pack I found it harder and harder to compete. Never before had I worked on any of my skills, my size had always been the only advantage I had needed.

Arrogance sucks.  Lesson for all you: actually practice.  Even if you still believe you suck, you are actually doing a little bit better than you were doing before your practice session.

By the freshmen year of high school I was on the bottom line on the junior varsity team, had the team needed to cut kids I would have been the first to go.  The fun was dead.   Now I wallowed in self pity as a benchwarmer while those that had actually practiced had fun on the ice rink.

At the end of the year I decided I was not coming back.

It was like this, but colder.

Throughout my sophomore year I had more free time than I knew what to with.  I established new friendships with fellow students at school.  I was happy; surprisingly I realized I hadn’t been happy in a long time.  These students actually liked me for my personality, rather than despising me for my lack of hockey skills.

The drawback to having real friends is that you spend time with them. (Oh, the horror)  More time you spend with your friends the less time you spend on academics.

Friends first took up just as much time as hockey, then significantly more.

The academic flak became pretty brutal; my grades were taking a beating.  There was a point where I missed so much homework that my teacher too me aside and asked if everything was okay.  I said everything was fine, but deep down I knew something would have to change.

The answer came to me earlier this summer, when I needed to retrieve my goggles from the pool club, which was closing in fifteen minutes, and my car had been stolen

Damn the Dalmatians

It was only a ten minute walk away, so I decided just to run over.

Heaving and huffing, I arrived just in time to see the last of the employees drive away after they finished locking up.  Standing in the parking lot, that is where problem that had been plaguing was finally recognized.

I procrastinate way too much.

Never in all my life have I just buckled down and done what needed to be done.  It happened with hockey, now again it is happening with my friends.  I know exactly what I need to do.  With hockey I simply needed to practice.  With my friends I simply need to manage my time better.

The solution is simple, yet innovative.  Go out for Winter Track.

Many of my closest friends run all year round, so they do Winter Track.  There I will be able to hang with them.  Over the summer, now, I will have to run every day, or be absolutely humiliated come winter.  That is all the incentive I need.

With a little luck procrastination will finally be defeat and then the world is MINE.

Check in next time to see how poorly my efforts are going.

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