When I first saw commercials about the program titled, Tough as Nails, it did not appear to be appealing to me. Since watching Rachael Ray’s interview of the host of Tough as Nails, Phil Keoghan, I am now wondering whether I should watch one of the episodes of Tough as Nails?
The host, New Zealand personality, Phil Keoghan, spoke very eloquently about an issue which this retired professor has believed is a correct assessment of what is necessary to be done to solve our problems. He addressed the declining number of people who work with their hands and have an interest in the trades, but are precluded by a society which is pushing our young people to go, en masse, into academics. This movement is done at great cost to individuals (student loans) and to society. The movement to do this has been done over several decades and is reaching a pinnacle of failure for America.
As a professor, I have witnessed our college president, Dr. Dennis P. Gallon (1998-2015), develop a vocational program for training young people in the trades. My experience in growing up in Upstate New York saw something a bit different, but there are always two ways to make things better. Dr. Dennis P. Gallon needs to be given kudos, along with the wonderful faculty, both vocational and academic, which helped make it happen.
When growing up in New York eduational programs, I recall that we had dual paths and the regents exams and diplomas were designated for the college bound path. Those of us choosing college began to learn to research and write for college term papers, beginning in the sixth grade. It continued through high school, up to graduation.
Those wishing to pursue a career in the trades were not required to go through the college-bound process for regents exams and were directed to vocational skills training while in high school.
If the contemporary idea about regents exams in NY required EVERYONE in the schools to be assessed, then why is the answer to simply eliminate such exams all together? Why not pursue the dual path which once existed and has been applauded as a good example by some of my former teachers? Instead, work on issues for regents exams which parallel those about cultural differences, similar to issues with the SAT and ACT. Design the exams only for those who choose to head to college and consider the ramifications of cultural differences. Sounds difficult, for sure, but we are talking about the lives of human beings. Perhaps someone like Dr. Diane Ravitch, has endorsed similar ideas? (See Dr. Ravitch’s extensive bibliography of her writing).
On Rachael Ray’s show (Mar. 10), Phil Keoghan spoke about how, with this emphasis on college academics and dismissal of the need for the trades, we have ended up putting people in academics in a superior position to those in the trades. How true that is! I could not agree more. Keoghan’s hope is to teach and bring a change in attitude away from this thinking. Everyone plays a role in making this nation fantastic. Each one of us plays a role and nobody is superior over others. I made an attempt to try to help students understand that, but when one is alone in doing this while society is crying out for more academics and shutting down the trades, we as a nation can fail. It is time for a change.
At this college where the vocational program was built, the faculty worked to stay in touch with the needs of employers in the trades so as to meet demand for employees. I have heard about the same attempts in upstate New York, particularly in the Rochester area. But we need to do more than just this.
Thank you, Rachael Ray, for exposing this issue and bringing it to the forefront in this manner. You are wonderful and in ways beyond just cooking!