I find it so interesting when public figures, who have dropped out of school and go on to become hugely successful, come back to support and embrace formal education, as if it played a key role in their own success.
Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced the details of his $100 million grant to Newark schools and went on about how education helped make him who he is today, despite the fact that he, himself is a Harvard dropout.
According to their website: ”The mission of the Kanye West Foundation, is to help combat the severe dropout problem in schools across the United States.” Of course the irony being that the message comes from one of the more infamous college dropouts of our generation, Kanye West. Mr. West has also managed to earn 14 GRAMMY® awards mostly off of a trio of scholastically themed albums, The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation. The implication of these albums being that his own success was a direct result of his pursuits outside of school, and only by freeing himself from the confines of traditional education was he then free to unleash his abounding
ego gifts to the world.
For those of you that question the validity of these two “exceptions,” here is a small, informal list of college dropouts (from which a quick scout of the Internet would tell me) that you may have heard of:
John F. Kennedy (later went on to graduate Harvard in 1940)
Frank Lloyd Wright
I don’t want to admonish any efforts to support education both public and private, but it seems a little hypocritical to embrace leadership and support of an institution from those who do not attribute that same institution to their own success. Instead of throwing money at the problem, which as history would tell us, simply does not work. Why don’t we focus our efforts on completely transforming the idea of what education is and what it means in today’s society?
When an old structure begins to fall apart, we can invest all the money in the world into “remodeling” it. However, all of those efforts go to waste if the structure’s foundation is not rock-solid. How many more billions of dollars will we need to spend before we realize that our own foundation needs to be torn down and re-built from the ground up?