In this country, as in the fictional Lake Woebegone, we insist that all children are above average. Not only that, we insist that they all learn the same things at the same pace, which when you think about it is absurd.
Jim has expressed that sentiment before, but it struck me as particularly true, after an event I was fortunate enough to attend last Saturday.
During “Senior Day” at Joplin High School’s last home baseball game, a school teacher introduced each of the senior players, along with their parents, as they walked to home plate for a photograph. During the introduction, the teacher related the after-high-school desires of each of the seniors. Most, of course, expressed the desire to go to college.
Except one. He said he wanted to be a “welder.”
Now, I had never heard anything like that before, despite sitting through several of those kinds of ceremonies. Granted, I only know this young man and his parents from the baseball team, but I like them very much, and I can tell you that I was not in the least bit surprised about his post-secondary education wishes.
This teenager is not the college type, and I’m guessing neither were his parents. These folks were just raised with different interests and preferences, and advanced education means something different to them than perhaps to most people these days.
But guess what? We need welders to make this country work. We need folks who can do those sorts of things, and it was refreshing to hear that a kid, who has no doubt endured much you-need-to-go-to-college-programming from the system, could earnestly and honestly say, “No thanks, I want to be a welder.”
That high school graduate may not end up finding a cure for cancer or doing some other “great” deed, but he will be doing his part to keep America running, to keep civilization from falling apart. And that ain’t nothing.
And my guess is that he will be damned happy doing it.