My entire childhood was spent registered as Philadelphia Public School student, yet the information I needed to succeed was learned outside school walls.
My entire childhood was spent registered as Philadelphia Public School student. While my mother was aggressive in exposing us to various cultures, activities and neighborhoods, the bulk of my knowledge base – up until 17 years-old, when I graduated from University City High School – was constructed from the content, values and ideas presented to me from a non-culturally responsive curriculum – one probably still consumed today by most kids in the city.
My rigor in self-educating myself came from the idea that I would define what was expected of me. I wanted to do what had never been done, so I had to research and learn what has. And while the choice to take the road less traveled and venture into the fields of technology and journalism without any knowledge of either has yielded robust returns, I can’t help but think how much farther ahead I would be if I had been taught what was going to be of importance to my life’s trajectory, instead the value of X, which I still don’t understand.
So while reflecting on my accomplishments and how I was able to obtain them, I wrote down the four things I wish I learned in Pubic School and I’d like to share them with you.
- Entrepreneurship: After working in two corporate sales and marketing positions and living in two American cities all before the age of the 23, I saw the world’s game and realized I was being played. No matter how much money I had bought in for the companies I worked for – which admittedly was a lot – the wealth never transferred to my account. When I decided at 22 that I would never work for anyone ever again, I started a long journey of self-discovery to learn what I was good at, and what people would pay me to do. I had always been just Flood the Drummer – known for playing drums on street corners and making a few cool videos – but I wanted more than that. I wanted an institution that could serve my community’s best interest and create wealth that I could transfer to my sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, the 17 years spent being educated by the Philadelphia School District never taught me how to do that, let alone the word “entrepreneurship.”
- Civics: I turned 27 in December and it was around that time that I found out we had a City Controller. It was also the age when I really understood the role ward leaders play, how important elections were and, sadly, how corrupt Philadelphia is. Nonetheless, civics has become a big part of my brand, and the more, and integral part of my values system. However, I can’t stop wondering: “if voting and civics is really that important, why wasn’t it taught to me in school?” I’m confronted daily with politics; it plays as a part in everything I do. But I’ve never been asked the value of X – I’m just saying.
- Financial Literacy/Investment Opportunities: I’m into investments and watching the market. There are a few companies in particularly that I study closely to develop not only my business model, but an investment strategy. But the first time I downloaded an app to check out the stock market and the verbiage associated with it, I was as confused as I am when I read the Bible in literal contexts. The 1% exists mainly because of their knowledge and access to money and their ability to generate value creation opportunities across markets. Growing up, the only markets I knew about were Murry’s, Save-A-Lot, Pathmark and Acme. Again, with the important role that financial literacy and investments – even that of your time – plays in daily life, it baffles me why I, and my generation, wasn’t presented this critical information.
- Black Men Who Did Awesome Sh*t: Our history in this f*cked up country didn’t begin with slavery, but you wouldn’t know that if your diploma has a seal on it from an American institution of mediocre learning. Thankfully my family was rooted in Afro-centric consciousness and we indulged greatly, and bought to life, our history through the arts. As a child, while the schools wanted to recycle the same MLK story and speeches, I was learning about Imhotep, Shaka Zulu, Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, and others. It’s clear to me now as an adult that it was never intended for me to learn and be proud of my history – outside of February, of course.
While I contribute a great deal of my musical successes to the opportunity to play in band so frequently in school – something sadly that has changed for many kids in the inner cities – I can’t help but feel robbed and purposely slighted from the information that would’ve advanced my development as a human. This post was not to rant, but to issue a call to action. Don’t demand a quality education – that’s too vague – provide tangible examples, create your own curriculum, and present it to leaders. But most importantly, in the words of Mark Twain, “never allow your schooling to interfere with your education.”
Develop a passion for learning and being better than you were yesterday. The knowledge, truth and information is abundantly available, if you seek you shall find.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Source: TBO Inc®
Photo: Courtesy of the author