Is Your Child Learning For School Or For Life?


Many people today, who have undergone formal schooling, do not have life survival skills, having only acquired learning for school (i.e. academic education), which they do not KNOW how to apply usefully in the real world.

We already know from years of recent history that it is no longer necessarily those who do well in school that go on to achieve success in life. It used to be so, when paid employment was the primary destination for people who finished school/learning.

In today’s technology enhanced world, anyone with the ability to quickly acquire new skills and create/add tangible VALUE can become successful in virtually any area of endeavor s/he ventures. The skills required for survival and success have LONG changed. All around us today for instance, we see school dropouts employing university graduates.

The following quote underscores the point I have made above:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write. They will be those who cannot learn, unlearn or re-learn.” – Alain Tofle

But humans, quite typically, are often reluctant to change the way they think. We continue to send kids to school with the mental attitude from the days of the industrial revolution. We continue to push them to think in terms of outwitting their friends/classmates in class. We encourage them to see those who do not do well in academics as “lesser” than them.

The Wrong Approach To Education?

Over the decades for some unfathomable reason, educators in some societies have gradually phased out technical schools that taught practical, life/vocational skills and replaced them with schools of “theoretical” learning which we call universities. These institutions churn out graduates unable to “think” and incapable of applying most of the learning they acquired to useful purposes in society, in a way that adds sustainable value.

While studying in the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, I was a member of a student organization called “Students Farm Research Foundation(SFRF)”. The motto of this group was “Not For School But For Life We Learn”. Even today, many of the things I learned by being a member of that group have been extremely useful to me as an entrepreneur.

You see, I was EXTREMELY good in my academics. I have always been very good at learning by reading, and taking exams. As an employee I also excelled because I put my abilities into good use on my job. But all that time from schooling through paid employment was passed in a “protected” area. It was not the same thing as being in the REAL world especially as it relates to having to survive outside paid employment.

And THAT is the challenge! The truth is that many people who work in paid employment today, or who are currently in school hardly ever realize they may not have the requisite skills to excel (via honest, legal and legitimate avenues PLEASE) outside those controlled environments should the need arise. When they then find themselves thrust into it, they are overwhelmed. Many out of desperation become dishonest and engage in unethical practices to “survive”.

What Can Be Done?

I believe I have a unique advantage in that I have passed through all three phases. I have been in school and benefited from being “good” at academics. I have also excelled in paid employment. Then I left those secure environments to venture into business in the shark infested world of REALITY, and suddenly I discovered that all my skills/knowledge appeared to make little or no difference to my ability to succeed. I repeatedly saw people not half as skilled, able or knowledgeable as I was get what I wanted AHEAD of me – sometimes even though they did less than I did.

I was NOT worldly enough(I mean in the UN-dishonest way)! It took me many years of perseverance and self-education to LEARN how to survive in the real world. Looking back, I argue that I could have been better prepared if I had not focussed exclusively on excelling in those controlled environments of school and the organizational workplace.

So I ask YOU this question: Does you child know how s/he will be received in the real world after school? Does s/he know how harshly different people out there can be compared to all those nice/considerate classmates and teachers from his/her school?

Another question: What life skills does your child possess? By life skills, I mean those with which s/he can earn what s/he (and YOU) would consider a decent living.

Let me ask YOU one more question: What can you do NOW, today, to earn (from clients/customers or paying public consumers) the same – or greater – income than you currently earn via salary? What skill, talent or competence has your child exhibited or developed or got – NOW – that you believe can help him/her command enough income to maintain the standard or living YOU have made him/her get used to?

The above questions should be given very careful consideration in the interest of yourself and/or your child(ren). Education differs from Schooling. The educated person is the one who knows how to bring together the knowledge s/he has and apply it to achieve a useful end that produces VALUE in the society or lives of others.

This is why Henry Ford was described as a man of education despite the fact that he had no formal schooling. He employed the greatest engineering minds and made them work together to achieve the feat of building the automobile engine for a car that could be purchased by the masses – even though they had all told him it was impossible!

Is Your Child Learning For School Or For Life?

What standards of success are you setting for him/her? Be careful so you do not end up preparing him/her to fail in life. Take him/her out into the real world so s/he can CHOOSE a real-world relevant COMPETENCE to acquire that will ensure s/he does not get “kicked around” by those who are better “real-world educated”. I say this from painful personal experience.

A hands-on approach to life is crucial for survival especially in the face of rapid and unexpected changes in today’s world. I believe every parent should emphasize for his/her kids the need to be able to LEARN quickly and adapt to create and innovate in ways that ensure they can succeed in spite of society’s challenges. Help your child and yourself prepare BETTER to succeed in the real world by ensuring that ALL your learning is not just for school BUT also for LIFE!