MOM-enomics with Booth Parker, CPA

Join Booth as she reflects on the current educational system and its impact on kids' futures. How can embracing individuality and creativity from a young age help children find meaningul work and shape a more fulfilled society? Booth shares her thoughts on the challenges of conformist education and the potential for change in creating better contributors to society and a thriving economy.

Here's the article on Horace Mann that Booth refers to in the episode.

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  • (00:00) - Introduction
  • (00:15) - The School Mindset
  • (02:08) - The state of the American Dream and the Middle Class
  • (03:34) - Living with purpose and intention
  • (05:04) - What is the school system teaching us?
  • (08:13) - Horace Mann
  • (10:40) - What younger generations prioritize
  • (13:09) - Outro: What are your thoughts?

This podcast is produced by Rooster High Productions.

Creators & Guests

Booth Parker, CPA
Financial guru by day; domestic diva by night and sharing it all in between.

What is MOM-enomics with Booth Parker, CPA?

Real moms. Real mom financial issues. Real moms in business. Real stories. I am Booth Parker. A CPA, wife, and mom that loves all things home and family. In this podcast, I talk all things money for moms, families, and small business. From tips to ideas to info you just need to know, I break it down so moms can apply it to their own families and businesses!

S2E19: Measuring Our Kids



The School Mindset

Today, I am going to talk about something that I am experiencing in my current season of life as a mom. It is something, that I by no means have the answer to, so I guess I'm just kind of hypothesizing here, but it's something that I have given a lot of thought to in the last, probably 6 to 12 months or so, especially.

My son, he is a junior in high school now, and so we are in that phase of looking at colleges, the standardized tests, and chasing that GPA, and the class rank, and all of those things that are important when applying for colleges.

So, I am in my mid 40s, and I grew up [00:01:00] being taught the mindset of, you go to school, you do as you're told, you don't think outside the box, call it conformity if you will, uh, and you get good grades. That's the goal. And that's where you find opportunities for your future is by doing those things. Those things will allow you to go to a good college, secure a good job that will provide for you and your family.

My parents' generation, I guess you would call them boomers, they grew up being taught the same thing, which is probably why they taught the same thing to my generation. And it was instilled that that was how you achieved the American Dream. For the boomers, it actually worked out pretty well, that whole mindset there.

The people from that generation that made good grades and went to college, they definitely had a better career path trajectory, and more opportunity [00:02:00] for a better financial future. So that American Dream really was being middle class, right? It was creating a comfortable lifestyle.

The state of the American Dream and the Middle Class

But the thing is, is that American Dream is kind of in shambles, so to speak. The middle class is struggling these days. Cost of living. I could go on and on and on, but I'm, even though I'm a money person, I'm not going to go down that rabbit hole with the whole middle class and economy thing right now, because that wasn't my topic for today, but the middle class is struggling these days and that's, it's no longer a comfortable lifestyle, but yet we are still educating our children to follow the same model.

So for my generation, this structure, as I call it, it pushed even more kids towards the whole college path, going to college, getting a degree, even if that meant taking out large sums of debt to get the degree. And we've all kind of seen where that has shaken out over the [00:03:00] years. I know plenty of people my age that are still paying on their college loans.

And they're pretty much beholden to their jobs because of it. Regardless if they like those jobs, want to try something else, anything like that. We see and hear so much these days about finding happiness and being happy.

I personally prefer the term fulfillment. I feel like it has a little deeper meaning and that happiness can be temporary and fleeting, whereas fulfillment is more of a long term feeling of contentment.

Living with purpose and intention

But regardless of what you call it, we all want our lives to have purpose and intention, right? We don't want to spend our days doing things we don't enjoy. It's nice to get out of bed in the morning excited about your day and not dreading it. And you definitely don't want to look back at 80 and regret all the days you spent doing things that did not make you happy, did not bring you fulfillment, did not actually [00:04:00] fulfill your intentions and purpose for life.

So I personally, I spent over a decade in a job that I didn't really love because it was that pathway expected of me, right? I was definitely a conformist as a child. I was a people pleaser. I've done a podcast on that, so you probably already know that. And many children are people pleasers. They want that approval. Especially girls. It is more common in girls than boys, but kids want that approval.

When I reflect on my life so far, my biggest regret is all the time I spent in a job that wasn't fulfilling for me. All the time I spent in a car with a two hour commute. And I can never get any of that time back.

And in all honesty, I don't think that that's the way God intended us to spend our days in our lives, sitting in traffic, daily grind, standing around the water cooler, you know, filling up your coffee, doing things [00:05:00] that were very unfulfilling to us, just so that we could survive.

What is the school system teaching us?

So I've So why is society still pushing this agenda of make good grades, do well on the standardized test, because that is where you'll find the opportunities. College is insanely expensive. I think everybody can probably agree on that one. But it doesn't, college doesn't necessarily, I can't guarantee that high paying job like it did for the boomer generation.

We've all heard of plenty of college grads searching for a job, especially depending on what their major was. If a child knows they want to become a doctor or a vet or something like that, that has a very specific educational path, then college is something they definitely have to do. They need that specific education to have the knowledge to do that career.

College can still be a good option for kids. I'm not saying it's the right path for every kid, but it can still be a really good option for kids that don't have a [00:06:00] definitive career they're after. I think college can be a great place for kids to discover more about themselves, things they're interested in that they've maybe never been exposed to, things like that, and help them pick a trajectory for their career path.

But college itself isn't what I necessarily have an issue with, because I do see value in it for a lot of kids. Not every kid, but I do see value in it for a lot of kids. What I have more of an issue with is the process of Getting there and getting towards your career, the more formative years of a child's life, say up until 18.

To me, it's the measurement stick, as I'm going to call it, that I have started to have more of an issue with.

The measuring stick hasn't changed in decades. Grades, test scores, are the way admissions offices have evaluated and measured kids for decades and [00:07:00] decades. But think about how much has changed in the world, society, our economy, all of those things over the last 50 or 60 years.

But yet there hasn't been really any evolvement in how we measure and evaluate and define success for kids as they're growing up and going through school.

But why is that? Like, why has that not changed? Measurement in the real world changes. All the time.

And another way we measure kids these days is by comparing them to others. I mentioned the whole class rank thing a minute ago. So we compare the kids to their peers to see kind of how they measure up to the others.

But why do we necessarily do that when the world these days tells us that comparison is a very negative way to reflect on yourself and measure yourself? It erodes confidence and creativity and uniqueness and all of these great [00:08:00] qualities. So the world is telling us to stop living by comparison, but yet our educational system is still using it as a measuring stick.

It sounds contradictory to me, but I'm just, I'm just a mom.

Horace Mann

So, I recently read this article while I was going down these rabbit holes with this whole my mind keeping me up thinking about these things at night. So, I recently read this article about a guy named Horace Mann, and that name is probably not familiar to you, but he is often considered the founder of our educational system.

The problem is, he created it about 200 years ago, think, uh, era of industrialization and things like that.

So he believed that lumping the students together made education much easier than focusing on the individual child, regardless of how the individual child would react or adapt to [00:09:00] that method of lumping them together.

So this system was not necessarily designed to encourage learning, but rather to instill discipline. Remember, this was the industrial era. They were looking for conformity. It was all behavior over actual mentality.

The goal there was all about being able to predict the behavior. So teaching conformity was paramount. It wasn't all about teaching them how to even think for themselves. It was thinking about that ultimate goal of predicting behavior.

But fast forward 200 years later, and the problem now is that companies and industries, they need innovators. They are seeking people that create economic value for their companies or industries, even entrepreneurs, need to be able to create value in order to succeed and create new businesses. That [00:10:00] conformity isn't necessarily valuable anymore, and that's a problem.

Our economy is out there seeking creativity. Innovation, ideas, but yet our educational system is still teaching conformity and stifling the creativity, the innovation, and the ideas.

And for the most part, the measuring stick that college admissions used is still not thinking outside the box. They're still looking at the grades, the test scores. In fact, the test scores kind of went away for a few years after COVID, but now the college admissions offices are putting those test scores back on the docket.

What younger generations prioritize

So today's teens and young adults, they don't have that dream of the big corner office that was instilled in my generation or even my parents generation. We were really taught. To seek security with our jobs. And security isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it can lead to a [00:11:00] very caged type mentality.

The younger generation, they dream more about freedom and experiences. We've all heard where they don't really care about the huge house. They'd rather spend their money on vacation. So the whole mentality is different between the generations as to what they want and what they want for their lifestyle.

So I personally think that an educational system that truly embraces each child's unique talents, their character, all of those kind of things, embracing those at a young age and supporting them through their educational journey as they grow up, would really make them be better contributors to society and the economy as a whole.

I think kids these days would grow up into more fulfilled adults if their individuality was embraced and supported as a child in their learning, rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. [00:12:00] And I know adults my age, there's a whole lot of stuff out there about fulfillment and finding it these days.

And I think if it was really encouraged in young children to embrace their talents and their uniqueness, their creativity, all of these kind of things, we would actually have a much more fulfilled and happier society. Which in turn leads to a more thriving economy. Because they're creating that value. So I, myself, I was a conformist my entire life.

I was taught to be scared of the consequences, which I was. I can only wonder if the self discovery I've done in recent years couldn't have just been brought out at a young age, rather than hindered, had the path been structured differently. What kind of ideas could I have contributed? What, what would my path have been? I have no idea because it's, it's come and gone and I can't change the past.

But I am confident that that whole one size fits all box for educating, measuring, and evaluating our kids [00:13:00] is not going to make them the most productive members of society, it's not going to contribute the most to our economy, and it's not going to create fulfilled adults.

Outro: What are your thoughts?

So, I might be crazy and the only one sitting up at night kind of thinking about these things, but I would love to know your thoughts on what you think, especially if you're a mom navigating this space, and even if you're a mom with, with younger kids, maybe you've thought about this and you're seeing that your child's uniqueness or their talents really aren't being embraced and encouraged.

We actually in our county have this, one school that opened recently. And it's preschool, I think through third grade, and I really wish it had been open when my son was, was little, but it's called Nature School, and it's a private school, but it's a school that is pretty much outdoors all day, and they teach science activities by going out and really getting in the outdoors, and it's, it's really neat, and I, I think that [00:14:00] that's actually a really good pathway towards kind of changing the way we make kids conform by sitting in a desk for seven or eight hours a day and things like that.

And there's definitely a long way to go everywhere, but I really, really like to encourage, younger people I know to follow their talents.

So as a mom, this makes me, like I said, it keeps me up at night and it makes me want more for not only my child but future generations to come to be able to be fulfilled and good contributors to society and our economy.