Why are U.S. high school failing us? Partly because they were nbever designed to meet today's moral and economic imperative of graduating all students. When the "modern" high school system was established in the early 20th century, only 10 percent of 14- to 17- year-olds attended high school (National Center for Educational Statistic, 2006). It wasn't until 1918 that all states required children to attend elementary school; in that era, a high school education was a luxury afforded only to upper-income families. Getting a well-paying job without a high school diploma was not simply possible; it was the norm ("Public Education," 2007).
Fast-forward to 2008, when 90 percent of well-paying jobs require post-secondary education or training (U.S. Department of Labor, 2006). A constantly changing labor market has created new challenges; students must acquire adaptable, transferable skills as well as specific content knowledge to be adequate employees. And as many markets go global, the skills of U.S. workers - and the standards of education - must meet new international benchmarks.
Clearly, the education goals of the United States have changed profoundly from those of a century ago. Yes, the typical U.S. high school education has remained virtually unchanged. Classroom teachers are still often trained to be isolated content lecturers who engage in little collaboration with local communities, colleges, or businesses. And high school students are still pushed into outdated, one-size-fits-all courses rather than given the personal attention and flexibility they need to stay on the path to graduation. These antiquated practices show that the education system has not fully responded to changing demands and continues to be misaligned with the modern workforce.
"Like many American outsider-adventurers, Dorian 'Doc' Paskowitz set out to realize a utopian dream. Abandoning a successful medical practice, he sought self-fulfillment by taking up the nomadic life of a surfer. But unlike other American searchers like Thoreau or Kerouac, Paskowitz took his wife and nine children along for the ride, all eleven of them living in a 24 foot camper. Together, they lived a life that would be unfathomable to most, but enviable to anyone who ever relinquished their dreams to a straight job. The Paskowitz Family proved that America may be running out of frontiers, but it hasn’t run out of frontiersman."
"Talk to the Paskowitz progeny and they tell tales of their father’s iron will as well as their outlandish freedom growing up. 'It was like the Lost Boys and Lord of the Flies combined,' says Abraham, who treasures memories of 'the greatest childhood that could ever be lived.'
...It was the life Doc wanted, and society’s norms didn’t apply. 'Our day-to-day job was to parent our children in a way that they emerged from childhood as strong, wonderful adults,' he says.
All the children except Abraham now live in California, with occupations that run from movie producer to rock singer to surf instructor. At the Paskowitz apartment the phone rings constantly, always one of the children checking in.
...The money Doc scraped together wandering with his brood doesn’t come along so easily anymore. He used to work in emergency rooms for a few days and make enough to provide for his family for a month. Or he’d spend a few months as the on-set physician for TV’s Gunsmoke, the camper parked nearby. He’s still licensed to practice in California and Hawaii, but today he and Juliette mostly get money from the[ir] surf camp (run by fourth child Israel, a former surfing champion), their monthly Social Security checks, and a few of their kids who can afford to help.
For years Doc didn’t worry about the future. On their travels in Mexico he was the 'orange doctor,' so named for the only form of payment he took. Somehow they always got by. But now he’d like to have a cushion to leave his wife—part of the motivation for his writing Surfing and Health. At the moment there’s $300 in the savings account, and Juliette has put off fixing the brakes on the Honda.
'Forty-eight years—all for him,' she says on a rare breakfast out, happy to be dining on French toast. 'Sometimes I get a little claustrophobic and think "What if?" But then I think of my children. I have no regrets. I would do it again in a second.'"*
"Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: 'If you win the rat race, you're still a rat'....Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?"
And he once told me if he said no ten times
He’d be right at least nine
I said, Hey
If Edison had said no
If Jonas Salk had said no
If Debussy had said no
If Jesus Christ had said no
If Willie Mays had said no
If Shakespeare had said no
If Sigmund Freud had said no
I’ll tell you where we’d be
We’d be sick and in the darkness
With no one to inspire us
And nothing on TV
And even less in the fridge
We’d be blaming dad for everything
And not even have our Sundays off to barbeque
But you can’t be crucified
for the things you don’t do
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