Column: Don’t waste a child’s education


According to my dictionary, the meaning of education is the knowledge gained from systematic instruction. It also includes the development of character or mental powers.

As we become concerned about test scores of school children, we need to think about how children learn. Schools that have replaced textbooks with computers have not shown superior learning experiences happening in the classroom.

Finland is known worldwide as being No. 1 in childhood education. They focus on equity, happiness, well-being and joy in learning. They let children be children, believing that the work of a child is to play. Each hour in school has 15 minutes of play. The children learn to take responsibility and manage risks at an early age. When the Finnish educator who wrote this article for Fortune magazine moved to the U.S., he was dumbfounded that his 3-year-old child was expected to be evaluated to enter preschool.

Being a Purdue graduate with a degree in education, I closely follow Purdue’s progress in managing the changing environment of teaching and learning to accommodate the changes in the world and its resources. Vocabularies in the business world use words that are unfamiliar to me; company names in business magazines that are listed as best-work places for millennials are a mystery to me. Of the Global 500 (world’s largest companies) listed in Fortune magazine, a U.S. company (Walmart) is No. 1, but Nos. 2 through 9 are foreign companies (three are from China), and our only other company in the top 10 is Exxon Mobil (Apple is No. 11).

How does a university prepare its students for this rapidly changing world? Purdue created a roadmap, working with students and faculty, to determine the most important outcomes of a Purdue undergraduate degree. They are: communication, ways of thinking, interpersonal skills and cultural knowledge. A fourth was added later: intrapersonal awareness and development. Quality education was then described as a blend of academic preparation and professional skill development through curricular and co-curricular learning experiences.

Children have a short time in their lives to learn and be prepared for the long time they have to be adults. Let’s not waste it.