Of course, school is difficult ...

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Students choose to attend expensive colleges but don't major in engineering because the courses are difficult.

"Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success ... if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas, then we also have to win the race to educate our kids," Obama said.

The word economy comes from the Greek word "Οικονομία" (ikonomia), and is based on the concept of scarcity. The only things that are scarce in the world of connection and services and the net are the things that are difficult, and the only things that are valuable are the things that are scarce. When we intentionally seek out the difficult tasks, we're much more likely to actually create value.

Scarcity is an objective, but also a relative, concept. If you’re in a third world nation with no marketplace to handle production and rational redistribution of goods and services, then you’re concerned about your next meal. If you’re in the United States or a similar nation already past the industrialization era, you might consider scarcity the inability to buy the kind of car you want, or all the clothes you want, or to be able to take your ideal vacation. In that sense, “scarcity” is relative and personal.

Innovations and creativity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) will be the drivers of tomorrow's economy. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (high paying jobs!)! Most people opt out of hard things. Teenagers usually say that they will never need difficult math in their lifetime. But, here is the catch! Whether or not you use the math that you learned in school, the act that you have learned the math, established a wire in the brain that it didn't exist before. It's the wiring in the brain that took place during math homework that enabled you to be a problem solver! Even if you don't plan to be a scientist, ask or demand of yourself (or your kids) to become scientifically literate and mathematically literate. This is the value to know math and science. These subjects are the engine solvers of the world. How does it connect to jobs? Companies compete for business daily, and they need to innovate new products, new services, etc.This is how problem solvers add value to any company. By inventing new economies and new industries, people have jobs. It's a chain of events, and it starts with a STEM education.

My parents didn't go to college and I didn't have a support system. There were no female students ahead of me in the male-dominated engineering program who could give me encouragement. It's very difficult to do it alone without a support system. I attended the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT and I graduated in five years with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in computers, and a Minor in Mathematics. After 4 years in Corporate America, I went on to get a master's degree in Management of Technology.

I was a very persistent and resilient person. Due to my father's sudden death, I remember getting an "F" in my first thermodynamics exam in college. I could have dropped Engineering due to stress (cash flow, grief, etc.). If it wasn't for my persistence, I could have seen that score and said: "Well, maybe Engineering is not for me." Honestly, I had many thoughts to drop it, change majors, especially when I saw my roomates have fun on sunny weekends while I was stuck in the lab working with circuit boards.

I chose to keep going! Also, in my days, there was no google or a lot of free online resources to develop interest in students. Professors said: "Here's the workload, if you can handle it, you're good to go. If not, sorry."

Nowdays, undergraduates across the country are choosing to leave science, technology, engineering and math programs before they graduate with those degrees. Many students in those STEM fields struggle to complete their degrees in four years, or drop out, according to a 2010 University of California, Los Angeles, study.

In the United States, I don't think kids are getting a particularly good math and science education. I attended 1st grade to 9th grade in Greece and there were much higher demands on students, especially during the middle grades. I studied algebra, geometry, physics and chemistry. As a kid in elementary and middle school, I thought math and science was hard and it was not really my favorite thing. But, even though I prefered to watch TV and play (like all kids), I wasn't allowed until I completed my school work. It didn't matter to my parents if it was hard or disliked it. For them, schooling was to learn those important things for the future. And in this country, we don't recognize that simple reality.

In USA, our kids in public schools, including my son, are still studying basic arithmetic, and they're doing very elementary, descriptive science. The typical American family can't afford boarding schools, private or independent schools. I must admit that the new recently adopted common core standards for K-to-12 mathematics by some 40 states is a good step in the right direction. Those standards are more demanding, more rigorous, they're more coherently put together. They are the kind of thing that competes well from the world point of view.

Common sense as we used to know it lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined ever further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin or a cookie due to allergies. But, teachers could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

The majority of people have accepted that science is just not for everybody. One of the reasons American students aren't more excited about science is that adults themselves aren't excited. Most students have been weeded out before they even get to college. Since my son turned 7 years old, I brainwashed him that math is good for the brain, just as milk does the body good.

In the United States, we often think ... kids who like mathematics and science are nerds and simply strange children. In the rest of the world, that's rewarded. I mean, children who are good at math and science are viewed as the ones that are going to get ahead and the ones who have the best job opportunities in the future. It's a very strange notion that we have that somehow, mathematics is only for elite kids and nerdy kids. All children can learn mathematics to a certain level, and yet adults or parents do not accept it, especially if the child is diagnosed with a learning difficulty such as attention deficit disorder. As an example, most kids outgrow ADHD and miss out on mathematics because the parents thought it would be challenging or unfair to struggle in math.

If we don't prepare our children in ways that have them be competitive internationally, jobs will go away, even from the United States. US companies will simply go and put the plant somewhere else or hire people from other parts of the world. It's already happening today but it's not too late to fix our children's education, starting now!


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