Well, if he wanted to make a statement about education standards, he definitely hit the mark. Last month, Dr. Ben Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, was asked to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. In attendance was President Barak Obama, as well as many senior members of the President’s cabinet.
Dr. Carson used the opportunity to publicly challenge the president on a wide range of issues, including health care and taxes. A visibly embarrassed Obama was forced to sit through Dr. Carson’s diagnosis of what ails America and his prescriptions for positive change. One of the burning issues he touched upon was education.
Study Skills Matter
While Dr. Carson is not trained as an educator and his comparisons of today’s educational standards to those of one hundred years ago may be misguided, but there is one point that deserves our attention. It is the call for personal responsibility.
Ben Carson was not brought up in an affluent or even middleclass home. Instead, his youth mirrored that of thousands of inner-city African American children. He was raised by his mother in abject poverty. He had little or no interest in what was being taught in his Detroit public school and his career trajectory pointed sharply due south.
However, his mother decided that he was headed for college and not to prison. She allowed only three hours a week of television and demanded a number of books be read each month. She required that book reports be written to prove that her children had actually read the books. (Only years later did they realize that she was practically illiterate and could not even read the reports they had written.) Slowly Ben’s books became his best friends and his interest in learning just about anything and everything soared. Success in school led to Yale University, the University of Michigan, the prestigious position he has held for decades and eventually to the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Carson has authored two influential books, founded a scholarship fund, and is rumored to be primed for a career in politics (maybe prison would have been better).
Home Study Habits and Attitudes Towards Learning
A deeply religious man, Carson preaches the gospel of personal responsibility. He realized through his own life story that success begins in the home. It is a story worth noting. It should remind every parent that preparing your children for the education they are to receive may well spell the difference between fame and failure. The attitudes towards learning, study habits and intellectual stimulation that the home can provide may impact your child’s chances for success more than any curriculum or possibly even any teacher.
And if the current administration is so intently focused on creating standards for schools and educators, maybe they should look into ways towards creating standards for homes and parents as well. If the funding of educational institutions is to become contingent on their success in reaching standards of learning, perhaps the time has come to tie funding of families to success (or at least an attempt at success) in parenting.
Dr. Carson certainly taught the president something. It is a lesson we all should learn. It may be just what the doctor ordered.