Lessons I have learned


The black-and-white photograph in front of me is of a dignified gentleman in his later years. His expression is determined, his eyes clear and focused, his hair full and silver. The man was my grandfather.

To look at him, you would never have called him a news junkie. But he was. The numbers on the dial of his clock radio were worn out where he tuned it to CJAD/800 in Montreal. The World Tonight aired 7 days a week at 6:00 PM and we knew not to interrupt him for the next 30 minutes. I heard about people, places, things and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but I was too young to understand what they meant.

I understand better now.

According to my mother, I was like him in many ways. I, too, used to wait until evening so that I could listen to out-of-town stations like CHUM in Toronto, WCBS in New York and WCFL in Chicago. Radio and newspapers were how he indulged his interest in national and international affairs. Colour TV, the 500-channel universe and the Internet hadn’t been invented yet. It was he who helped me understand that business and stock market reports were a barometer of where the economy was going, and that events in other countries could move both.

The Toronto Star recently published four articles by Neil Sandell about youth unemployment as part of the Atkinson Series: Trades part of solution to youth unemployment, Career education lacking in Canada, Keep an open mind about 20-somethings, and Tips for the young and jobless. Maclean’s followed several weeks later with The New Underclass and The Million Dollar Promise in its January 21st issue which breathlessly proclaimed on its cover that an underclass of “smart, educated, ambitious young people [has] no future.”

This dilemma isn’t unique to Canada. Sandell has visited other countries where youth unemployment and hopelessness exist. An article in Spiegel Online International brings a European perspective on the use, or under-use, of education that is different yet somehow familiar.

Please follow the links and decide for yourself. PDD believes that the more attention our children pay to figuring out how to achieve the future they want for themselves, or one close to it, the greater the likelihood that it will come to pass. Be or find someone to whom they can talk who will take the time to listen and not be judgmental. My grandfather believed and showed that being a catalyst in facilitating the process is more important than influencing it.

Waiting for governments and universities and people who excel at doing research and presenting reports to make things happen is a mugs game. If the relationship you have with your children lends itself to a commitment to seeing the process through, go for it. If it results in a “Plan A” and a “Plan B”, so much the better.

Where beginning the process of achieving economic and related educational awareness is concerned, sooner is better than later. Patterns and connections have to be discerned, understood and validated at one’s own pace, especially if they’re going to be used to make decisions with lifelong implications.

We disagree with the assertion in Maclean’s that our young people have no future. Albert Einstein said about himself: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” So do we.

Einsten also said:

A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. (PS: That doesn’t preclude creating it if it doesn’t exist.)

Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

We work very hard to avoid falling into lazy habits of thinking. To find out how and to discuss any or all of what you’ve just read, please contact us.

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