It’s a well-worn bromide of our society: “Children are our future.” Yet, in real life we tend not to conduct ourselves as if we believe that to be true.
Another more specifically instructive aphorism suggests, “When opportunity knocks…open the door.”
Let’s consider that second quote for a moment.
Two weeks from this moment, opportunity will be knocking in a big way.
The question remains however, will a significant number of men and women in a position to exploit that opportunity to its best potential open their eyes, open that door, and walk through it?
History says no. But let’s take a whack at it anyway. Because giving up is not in our best interest.
AirVenture 2017 will kick off on Monday, July 24. A massive event by any measure, Wisconsin will be awash in visitors from every part of the globe, all coming together in the small city of Oshkosh to celebrate aviation in every conceivable form.Private industry will be represented by everything from small mom and pop shops to major international players. Representatives from several government entities will be present too, if for no other reason than to help the public better understand what they do and how they do it.
Hardware and software on display will run the gamut from that of the early 20th Century, through today, as well as imaginings of technology that lie just around the corner.
In the process of exhibiting all this, astounding sums of money will change hands. A micro-economy will pop up out of the ground, thrive in the open air for several days, then dissipate as if scattered to the winds.
But it will not be gone. It will merely redistribute itself back to the towns and buildings where it exists all year, waxing and waning as the wider public discovers and makes use of the logistical fruit aviation offers.
Perhaps least obvious of all, and most important by a long shot, is the role education plays in all this. To its credit, the aviation industry is doing all it can to throw the doors of opportunity open to all who wish to enter.
A few will brave the journey to the Badger State, but many more will not. They will embrace the status quo and rest on the modest laurels of the educational system they are comfortable with.
It’s ironic that we encourage our young people tp stretch themselves past their comfort zone if they wish to achieve real success, yet we older folks settle in and get comfortable in our own little rut.
That’s a shame. Truly it is. Because it is so affordable and so easy to bring real opportunity for a brighter future to the student body of schools from coast to coast.
If only a handful of individuals from each community exhibited a more inclusive vision and a drive to educate their students for a future that includes skills and knowledge that would lead to actual employment, oh, what a world we would live in.
To its credit, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is making a real effort. It has dubbed Friday, July 28, as Teacher’s Day, allowing schoolteachers from kindergarten through 12th grade free admission to one of the largest conventions in the United States.
Simply click a link and register. That’s it. You’re in. Free admission, parking, and lunch are all part of the deal.
The structured Teachers Day activities conclude around lunchtime, leaving teachers free to wander the display buildings and talk to vendors and visitors to their heart’s content.
This is no pale invitation, either. Speakers of historic caliber will be on hand, including such luminaries as Frank Borman, the commander of Apollo 8, the first manned space mission to leave earth orbit for the moon and return.
As reported last week, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has readied an aviation-based high school STEM curriculum that will go into testing at approximately 30 schools in the coming school year.
The students who are fortunate enough to be exposed to this material will have a significant advantage as they continue on in life. Whether they choose to go on to college, or enter the workforce, having an understanding of aeronautics and how it applies to everyday life will serve them well.
Like Teachers Day, this curriculum is available to schools for the grand sum of zero dollars. It’s free. Please, take it and make use of it with AOPA’s best wishes and support.
What more could you ask? Seriously, what more can aviation do to welcome the wider world into the fold? It’s hard to imagine a better deal.
I may be a bit out of the ordinary, but if I was a teacher or administrator who had the opportunity to grab a flight to Chicago or Milwaukee, or launch off on a road trip to the shore of Lake Winnebago with a friend, and there was even a chance that I might come home with some great industry connections and a STEM based high school curriculum in my goodie bag, I think I might take it.
Will a teacher or administrator from your town take aviation up on that deal? I hope so.
Perhaps you could nudge them along a bit. Send them a link to this column.
Encourage them. After all, children are our future and opportunity is knocking.
We would be wise to at least open the door a little bit and peek through to see what we might be missing. Shouldn’t we?