"Dad," I heard my 11 year old son call from the kitchen.
"I want to go to college at USC, Florida, LSU, what's LSU?, Ohio State or Penn State."
I guess there are worse criteria for picking a school than Football polls.
My two seventh graders and I have had quite a few talks about college lately. They are curious as a number of their cousins and friend's siblings go off to school.
They want to know "what you do there" and are intrigued, to say the least, by the idea that they are on their own. Our talks have me thinking about the value of education and the pressures kids face.
Growing up, my parents led by example. We lived in a home filled with books and newspapers and they were consistent in emphasizing effort and thirst for knowledge over grades.
They stressed the importance of being well read and the value of knowing a little bit about a lot of things. I remember coming home from college and my parents asking what I learned, not what I got.
Which isn't to say that if I crossed the Bluto Blutarsky line I wouldn't have faced the music. I did well. But graduation day was the beginning of my education, not the end.
Somehow we have bought into the notion that a college degree is a necessity, for everyone. Not sure I buy that.
My freshman year at Missouri I was in a large Marketing class with a visiting professor from Australia. On the first exam he gave 2/3 of the class a C or lower and heard moans when he posted grades. One student yelled, "Everyone deserves a chance" and he quickly replied, "No, not everyone deserves a chance. Everyone deserves an oppotunity to take a chance." He turned his back to us a moment and then said "You know what I am saying don't you?" (pregnant pause) "Most of you don't belong here."
College isn't for everyone, and yet we seem backwards compared to many cultures where kids serve as an apprentice in a chosen field before going to college or trade school.
Mr. Marshall at my high school was one of the most interesting, well read people I have ever known. I don't recall whether or where he went to college. He was a custodian, in charge of cleaning our athletic locker rooms. A good man.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, "Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
And for my kids: No matter where life takes you, be a learner, an interesting person. That's an "A" on my report card.