Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Well Rounded Education

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend who was helping me on the farm early this morning. We were talking and laughing about some of the art and language courses we took when we were in ag college to achieve at least the idea of a well rounded education. Twenty years on, I'm kinda glad I took the time to take classes that introduced me to the arts and literature. I AM definitely a more well rounded person because I took the courses.

And then he posed a question that absolutely stopped me in my tracks. How well rounded can an education be when it doesn't address ANY of the practical necessities required to actually look after yourself when you're done being educated ? Where are the mandatory introductory courses for the masses in agriculture, mechanics, and structural engineering and repair ? How about personal finance and money management ? Home economics ?

Exactly. They're nowhere.

How about teaching the value of work ? Is that important ? We get offers from friends all the time that they've got kids who want to work and we've got PLENTY of kid safe and kid friendly work to be done around here. However if they're less than 17 years old it's all but illegal for us to employ them, even doing something as simple and safe as stacking firewood or hoeing corn, even for half a day. That they can legally work in a convenience store or at a fast food restaurant years before they can work at some place as unwholesome as a family run farm speaks volumes about what we value as a society.

Three hundred million Americans pony up to the table to eat every day. Agriculture in the classroom ? You betcha. Every year from 1st grade on up.


Bif said...

Good post.

Proof again I should just go Amish. But I don't want to learn another language... sigh

RuckusButt said...

I can't "like" this post enough! In our supposed need for ever greater specialization, we have lost a well-rounded education at the individual level. I do think the pendulum is slowly starting to swing back the other way but I don't think it will be enough.

Especially with agriculture. I was in graduate school with a young woman who honestly didn't comprehend the first thing about how things grow. She learned a lot from eating with me!

Even my cousin (a respected chef) said, while harvesting some beets and carrots from my garden, "It's like you bought some produce at the store and stuffed it in the ground before I came." While it IS amazing that such beautiful things grow in my garden, it spoke to me of our disconnect with the entire process, even for those who are intimately involved with food.

Jason said...

Bif; I think the only appropriate answer to this is Hmmmmm. (followed by a silent request for a lot more information) :)

RB; Wow is the only appropriate answer to your comment ! I had no idea that chefs didn't get at least basic training about where food comes from !

RuckusButt said...

I should clarify! My cousin (the chef) knows very well where food comes from, including the plethora of issues in restaurant and farming industries. His comment was more around how amazing it is to harvest your own produce (he hasn't had a yard to grow his own food in since he was a child).

Still, the fact that it was so novel to him to be able to harvest something himself speaks to how rare a pleasure it is for the average city dweller.

And to be fair, every time I hold a ripe tomato, still warm from the sun, I am in awe.

Jason said...

Me too, RB. I've been doing this my whole life long and that feeling never goes away.

Bif said...

The Amish are separate from many of our rules and educational requirements that have unfortunately TAKEN much of the education out of our schools. And Amish certainly have discipline and parental expectations to keep those children in school and behaving, which granted is part of the public system's problem of poor education, perhaps more than the required testing.

Amish have a pretty good connection to the land. ;-) They seem to have a good working knowledge of physics (barn raising, anyone) and their mechanical skills range pretty far, since they will use motors run by generators and typically repair everything themselves.

I really do find a lot of things about the Amish faith appealing, and lets face it, the gene pool could use with a little more diversification~ which really can only come from converts from "the English".

But I'd not only have to give up so many modern conveniences, I would have to give up a lot of personal freedom (as a female to my husband, and as all genders would have to, to the church and bishops).

Add having to learn high Dutch and Pennsylvania Dutch to the mix, and a lot of HARD work day in and day out... not going Amish.

Jason said...

The gene pool was where my head got stuck ! At one time the Hutterites in the Canadian west would *pay* males from outside to....uh...."contribute" to the genetic broadening of the colony !