I mind gaps

What do I do? That was a question I got the other day and I’ve been thinking a lot about it as I was taken aback.

“What do you do” is not the usual question around here. As we all know what we do. We do this. We scavenge the fridge that we both are in front of. We try to find something our children will swallow. We do cancer. 

And for a second, I hesitated. I forgot. I forgot what I do. 

But then it came back as I moved out of your way.

“I mind gaps.” And walked away. 

I know you’re not insulted, “dad” (sorry I don’t know your name). I know you know that I had to go, but when I think about it without context, I come off as a bitch. “I mind gaps” could be interpreted as really anything and maybe even a comment like “don’t talk to me.” 

The last thing you need is a bitch to run into at the microwave! We need every bit of kindness we can get.

So let me explain. 

I’m an educator who minds GAPS. I mind the GAP between real life and school. I do not believe the two speak the same language. One does not inform the other and life is freaking hard enough. I’m sure we both can agree on that. Life is unexpected and you need tools. Tools to cope and find success. Life only has meaning with purpose and schooling is not about purpose, its about facts.

I have founded a business, it’s called Mind the Gap. And the best and the brightest in education have joined me. We have backward designed a higher education system that allows students to be life skills ready and workplace ready. And get this for half the cost and half the time than a traditional higher education/college.

I can’t wait for your daughter to go to one of our Made & Apprenticeship academies. The first one opens fall 2021 in NYC. You can come to NYC for a happy reason! I swear there is more to this city than this place. It’s a remarkable city, full of light and energy. A city that can MAKE you into whoever you want to be. Just look at the streets! You will find everyone from actress to scientist, just sitting next to each other on the 6 train (That’s one of the subway lines). 

You may think that it’s impossible what I’m saying. It’s not. It’s actually easy. If you just design for what we KNOW. What we live. The human experience. Take all of that and you’ve got yourself an education! 

I’ve yet to have to use all of the “proofs” of a parallelogram, but I do need to understand how mortgages work. Do you know that I can’t name ONE teacher I had in college? However, I can name every boss I’ve ever had and tell you their favorite snacks. Think about that one for a sec.

We are valuing the wrong things in higher education. And instead of talking about how higher education is wrong, we just smirk at people like the Millennials and tell them that they are worthless and lazy. Have you ever thought they just don’t know how to live and think?

Don’t blame yourself for not thinking about it. I didn’t either and this is what I DO. I didn’t really start thinking about it until I almost lost my husband to cancer last fall. Yes…this is our second life-threatening cancer in a year. And I realized that I was totally unequipped to raise my two boys alone. It was so scary. And I’m “educated” I have a masters and I went to the top schools in the world. After that, I was determined. Things have to change. 

I’m changing things at a good time too. The market is screaming. Higher education is broken and is falling to pieces. This is not a groundbreaking statement if you follow the news. You know “before” when we followed such ridiculous stuff. 

And this is not necessarily a bad thing, because sadly something needs to be broken to be fixed. I say sadly because the costs have been huge. Most of it at the cost of our youth, your retirement fund, and our nation (GDP and state of affairs).

Most parents/people don’t even notice it.  We all are too busy playing the admissions game to even ask what we are racing for.  What do we get? What we get with 100’s of thousands of dollars? Or rather what does my kid get? A good party? We are too scared to even think. We can’t waste thoughts on such things. We want our kid to go to college.

Because?

Because “they say so.”

Who is “they?”

Stop talking! I have no time for such banter. I’m trying to get my kid into Yale! I need to drive her to the homeless shelter for community service.

I remember being invited to an inner-city charter school. It was a second-grade assembly and I heard them chanting “College Bound! College Bound!” Second graders! The administration was beaming with pride. “Our kids are going to college.” 

It made me a sick. It is basically chanting. “I will take on debt that I will never get out of it. I most likely won’t use the skill that I dedicated 6 years getting! YEAH! GO WILDCATS!”

Do you know that only 27% of graduates use their degree? And don’t forget that 48% won’t graduate at all, but they will still have to pay the price for the year or years they tried for the rest of their lives as the debt follows them….forever.

BUT WAIT dad. I’m not saying don’t go to college. I’m saying go to college with PURPOSE. And at Mind the Gap we say something pretty controversial. We say there is no FUCKING way that your child knows his/her purpose. 

How can she? 

How can your child know who she is? 

They live a life of school, then “after school,” and the “weekend.” In your case, add hospital. They have been exposed to your politics, your choice in hair wash, your food habits. Their life is scheduled. They have no freaking clue what it means to take care of themselves. 

And I’m not blaming you!!! NO NO NO! I’m not blaming you. You are doing an excellent job. How can we not do everything for them? We need to! They are literally living in the Hunger Games. They do school, and homework (SO MUCH OF IT. HOURS!) and then need extracurriculars to stand out. They have to be “special.” They are competing. The least you can do is pick up the groceries, make sure the floors are cleaned, etc. But guess what? In real life, no one does that for her and these last generations are failing. Failing at life. 

That’s why at Mind the Gap we created MADE. It is a year of self-exploration and transformational experiences. Participants will learn (through doing) what it is like to cook, clean, while also, problem-solve along with collaboration being key to everything. They will live in NYC. There won’t be a “quad.” There won’t be a fancy cafeteria with healthy choices made for them. Their campus will be NYC where they will have all the choices.

They will live and do projects together. They will hang with their peers. We do believe the current college system has something right, kids hanging with kids. When you think of college you never think of an English class? No. You think of Jimmy or Sal. You think of the relationships. We value that. We don’t want to replace that. We do not believe online learning is the only key to salvaging higher education, which is, by the way, where most are throwing their money/ betting on as they watch its demise.

And there is real research behind this idea of giving kids TIME. Other countries do this with better scores than us. The USA is behind in this best practice. And this is not a secret in my world. However, for some reason it is hidden from you. All educators know that taking a year before college is only in the student’s benefit. That is why they say yes when asked. Duke will even PAY you to take a year off. These students out-preform on every metric. Don’t believe me? Look at the research.

Business schools won’t even look at you right out of school. Why would they? You know SHIT.

They will learn in MADE about stress! About health! They will learn the science about it all and be exposed to tools to cope.  MADE has everything it takes to be independent (life ready). We will not give them the tools, but let them discover them. It is a year all about them. Not about expectations of yours or what current higher ed thinks they need (example: 5 credits of this or that). There are no tests. There will be challenges and they will experience real failure, but it’s about THEIR choices. 

Then they can go to college, OR they can come to one of our Apprenticeship Academies, which is only a year and a fraction of the price. Our apprenticeship academies are only in fields of high demand in an AI-enabled world. And we will plan to pivot with what the future work place may become. We will not be opening an Apprenticeship Academy in archeology, but we do need those, so if that’s your child’s passion, than off to college she shall go! We will only be opening Apprenticeships in disproportionately in-demand fields. For example Data Analytics and teaching. 

Can we talk about teaching for a second? This one is personal to me! What is happening to teachers is CRIMINAL and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover why. 

A teacher will become on average $300,000 in debt to get the degree/ certifications required to take on such a noble profession. That teacher will never make much more than $80,000 a year (and that will be after a decade of service). This teacher will never be out of debt with day to day cost of living. They will never get a mortgage for a first home and will struggle to support their own children. And that is what they do. They support children, but can’t do it for their own…because they are taking care of yours.

There is something not right there. Colleges should be FINED over what they have done to education. FINED. They are destroying the exact field they supposedly value. Why are teaching degrees at the same cost of a finance undergrad degree when the market doesn’t value them the same?!

Just another example of how schooling and the real world aren’t speaking the same language. Geez. 

I’m fired up. Can you tell?!

And our apprenticeships are designed backward from partnerships with the biggest thought leaders of the REAL world. For example, which do you think holds more value. A 4-year degree from Wisconsin in Data Analytics or a one-year Apprenticeship in Data Analytics designed backward from the needs of Google?! You tell me. 

So that’s what I do. 

And thanks for asking. 

Thanks for reminding me. 

I’m going back to work for a bit.

But first I sleep.

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