John Jacob Astor, multimillionaire businessman. John Jacob Astor was America’s first multimillionaire. He was also a high school dropout. Woody Allen once said “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.” Woody Allen really was thrown out of NYU after just a single semester for poor grades.
If you’re an educator or thinking about becoming one there is no doubt that you have run into the disruptive, irritating, distracting, wisecracking and sometimes funny class clown. We all have either been sitting in class with one, have taught one or have been one.
When researching this article I was amazed at the number of famous and infamous people that are on the list of high school and college dropouts. We have all heard the stories; Sylvester Stallone knocking on a thousand agents doors with the Rocky Script under his arm and being rejected a thousand times, Bill Gates and Paul Allen dropping out of Harvard to start Microsoft. Tony Robbins living in a 400 square foot apartment having to wash his dishes in the bath tub. The list goes on and on but what no one tells you about are the tens of millions of dropouts that have nothing and go nowhere, those that just suffer through life and those that cannot support themselves and their families.
I knew a class clown once. He was bright, funny and wasted all his skills, abilities and talents entertaining his class. This wasn’t a paid gig either. He did it for free. He did it just for fun. There are inspiring stories of dropouts all over if we look for them. But what we can’t find are the countless stories of those that go nowhere. Those that fill our prisons, exhaust our social services and live lives of poverty and despair.
I want you to understand this article is not pro, nor anti school. It is pro education. We all have different learning styles. Some of us will excel with traditional formal education and some will not. This is just a fact of life. What this writer wants to convey is that if we pay attention we can uncover our student’s strengths and then exploit them.
We are fortunate that in our society we have a multitude of educational options available. You ever hear that old story about the car accident at the corner where the Rolls Royce crashed into the Mercedes? The plumber broke his leg and the electrician broke his arm. That story is a prime example of education bringing about wealth and success. Was it traditional college? Nope, but it paid off, perhaps because those gentleman were made to excel in plumbing and electric.
If you are an educator or thinking about becoming one it is important that you become expert at recognizing your students learning styles. Maybe your class clown will not be the next Bill Gates; maybe he will just be the next Thomas Edison.