How much do you really care?
A very simple question with a complex answer.
I am in the midst of reading the book Extreme Ownership by author and retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, and let me tell you, the forward alone makes the rest of the book required reading for humanity, especially those of us living in the western world.
Taking “extreme ownership” of something (or a given situation or set of circumstances) means you are taking personal responsibility for it whether you are directly involved or not or whether you have actual personal responsibility for it or not.
A prime example of this kind of extreme ownership is something us older folks might remember far better than the younger generation…
Back in the day, adult neighbors, family friends, or sometimes even total strangers, could discipline a wayward child when the child’s parents weren’t around without risking civil or even criminal action.
Back in the day, the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” actually meant something.
Many parents are (thankfully) finding out just how challenging taking extreme (and uninterrupted) ownership of their children actually is.
This is not to suggest that teachers are on the frontline of taking extreme ownership of their students in school, because I can assure you that this is not the case.
Our system today puts “bored” and “hyperactive” kids on drugs like Ritalin and Adderall because teachers, parents, school administrators, and the pharmaceutical industry failed to identify the real problem…
Kids are not being challenged because the parents and teachers have abdicated their responsibility to provide purpose and direction (read: leadership) to the kids in their charge.
The parents and teachers are not taking true responsibility for the education of the children. Taking ownership and responsibility for something and making it your problem gives you power over it.
The flip side of taking extreme ownership of things is to take no responsibility for anything at all. Ergo, nothing is ever your problem, so nothing is ever your fault. Even when it is your responsibility.
To highlight this point, let me use one of my favorite subjects in school as an example…
If I heard the following question once, I heard it a thousand times…
How is solving for X relevant in real life?
The typical, lazy, dismissive response from teachers and parents alike is “you need it to get into college”!
A true enough retort, for certain, but it hardly answers the question because it lacks true purpose and direction.
This kind of response does not demonstrate to the child how knowledge of algebra is relevant to everyday life outside of the classroom and into adulthood. The adults are not taking responsibility for energizing the children to learn because they failed to demonstrate the importance of the lesson.
A more caring and productive response, is to use the technique of “show, don’t tell” to demonstrate how solving for X is relevant outside of the classroom.
Suppose you have $10,000 in credit card debt with an annual percentage rate of 23.99%.
How much interest will I pay in a year?
Obviously, X equals the amount of interest paid in a year
Easy formula: X= r(P))/(1-(1+r)^n)
R= interest rate (the annual percentage rate of 23.99%)
P=principal (the $10,000 debt)
N=number of periods (in this case 1 or one year)
Now the real world application of algebra is demonstrated along with a life lesson. Namely, how insidious credit card debt is.
By showing instead of telling and relating an algebra task to real life circumstances, you just provided purpose to the child that will encourage a thirst to learn more.
Math just went from being pointless to having limitless meaning and utility. Math just became magic because the teacher decided to exercise extreme ownership.
So to the parents out there suddenly having to homeschool their children and to the teachers who only think of their job as just a job…
Do you really care?
-The Rational Ram