Additional Post: Prosperity

I would like to share a few thoughts about a book,“Disrupting Class” by Clayton M. Christensen, that I reading right now that is relevant to this class . If you haven’t had the chance to read it, I strongly recommend it. The book is well-researched and very insightful on the state of higher education today and offers a few possible directions it might go in the near future.

On page 9 of the introduction the book quotes John Adams. It says:

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

This last group, the group that has the freedom to pursue whatever they find interesting, seems to be a pretty good description of the Millennial Generation, my generation. We live in a prosperous time and should do all that we can to distribute prosperity. We were raised by the Baby Boomers, who were raised by the WWII generation. The WWII generation (if we are speaking in terms of the collective in this period, not individuals) were forced to war and had fewer options at education and career choice. Many of them worked in trade jobs their entire lives because they had little chance to further their education that was disrupted by the political conditions of the time. My great grandfather was one of them. After he came back from WWII he was a painter. Because he was a painter his whole life he made sure that his four sons had the chance to go to college to study engineering, math, science, business, etc. His son, my grandfather, the first of his family to go college studied physics. A little later my father went to college to study engineering. Both physics and engineering are intensely difficult subjects to study. I took one course in statics and one course in introductory physics….and no more. My grandfather and father studied these subjects because these fields provide lucrative employment opportunities, and not necessarily because they are in love with the second law of thermodynamics. Because of their hard work and sacrifice I was recipient of opportunities that my progenitors never had. For possibly the first time in my family history, I had the chance to study WHATEVER I wanted. What a privilege that was! Also, what a responsibility.

I now have two daughters and I will encourage them to study what they are interested in and what they can become gainfully employed in. I want them to be able to pursue prosperity, however they define it, and to pass it on to their children and neighbors, in even greater abundance than they received it.

5 thoughts on “Additional Post: Prosperity

  1. Enjoyed reading your post. It is definitely a privilege to choose what you want to study. I have a friend that wanted to be a teacher, but her parents refused to pay her tuition because they said she would not make enough money in that field. My parents did not get to go to college due to family circumstances and so they were happy with whatever I chose, so long as I went and they paid for it. We still have situations today where kids have to go to work to support their families. I believe there is an old country song that speaks to that – rich man goes to college and a poor man goes to work. There are definitely more opportunities than there used to be though. Some go for free.

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  2. Great post. I definitely echo Cindy’s sentiments about college being a privilege (going to, choosing what to study). My parents immigrated over from Vietnam and didn’t go to college. For a few years, they wanted me to go become a doctor. It took wasn’t until I got to college that they became okay with me becoming whatever I wanted – they realized that I needed to do what I want and be happy. A lot of my friends, though, haven’t had the same fortune I have. Many have been roped into very specific careers (doctors, engineers, etc.) in hopes of making money. I love that you are giving your daughters the opportunity to study whatever it is they want. Not being pigeon-holed into a specific career because you’re too focused on making money is huge in happiness.

    -Minh

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  3. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your post! I thought it was well researched and put together. I am definitely going to read the book you suggested. I definitely echo your sentiment to make sure that my children have the ability to study whatever THEY want to study.

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  4. Great post! I’ve never thought of myself as privileged for studying what I am – Hispanic literature and history. But I suppose that I am! Thankfully, I was able to study what I am genuinely interested in, and my parents always supported that. They weren’t worried about my future income, but instead they encouraged me to work hard at whatever I was doing.

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  5. Drew,
    Thanks for the post. I appreciate your perspective and your choice of reading material. This book, as well as others in a similar vein, had a significant impact on the personalization movement that is currently moving in K12 education. If it weren’t for the recession, we’d probably be about 4-5 years ahead of where we are today in implementation. Your post also resonated with me. My parents were the first in their families to go to college. My dad has a bachelor’s degree in business management and my mom has an associate’s degree. Their parents worked in the military (enlisted), as a tug boat captain, and as mothers. I certainly benefit from my parents’ ability to make a living as educated workers. They benefited from their parents’ commitment to doing whatever they needed to do for their kids to get an education. I do think this begs the question of us, what will we leave behind for our kids and their generation? Great stuff!
    Gary

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