Adult education mandatory?

Published 12:03 am Sunday, November 13, 2016

In her job as a community college biology teacher, my wife encounters many older students who have decided to reinvent themselves following widowhood, divorce or downsizing.

Their commitment to ongoing education is admirable —- but it’s also VOLUNTARY.

That may change. According to the Washington Post, a debate is currently raging in Nordic countries over whether to institute mandatory adult education.

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If such a scheme catches on in Scandinavia, don’t doubt that it will spread to America. Judges, policymakers and hipster activists have this whole bromance going with Europe. Nothing would make them happier than (a) requiring that Supreme Court justices YODEL their decisions, (b) letting the president throw out the first legal heroin needle at the World Series and (c) replacing the Interstate Highway System with a series of gondola routes.

Dreamers admit it would be challenging to put the sprawling U.S. on the same theoretical path as the more petite European countries, but they’re still drooling over the prospects (perhaps because their cronies would have an exclusive contract for Botox, liposuction, etc. on School Picture Day).

Proponents of mandatory adult education say they just want to keep the U.S. thriving in the 21st century. (“Ooo, I wish I could MARRY the 21st century.”) True, many middle-aged and older technophobes are incompetent at sending emails or programming their DVR, but that doesn’t mean a one-size-fits-all solution is required.

Supporters say they merely want to keep America competitive. (“Unless our competitiveness makes other countries feel bad. Here, Paraguay, have a participation ribbon.”)

Advocates say it’s unfair to expect employers to re-train employees for high-tech jobs. (“Companies need THAT time to deal with higher taxes, new regulations, paid flatulence leave…”)

Supposedly, Americans OWE it to society to stay on the cutting edge of technology. That means truant officers would yank seniors away from fishing with their grandchildren so they could learn to Skype with their grandchildren ABOUT fishing.

It has been my experience that social engineers don’t know their slide rule from a hole in the ground.
(Anyway, nothing short of a “we will land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade” commitment could convince some codgers that, yes, it is possible to drive faster than 30 miles per hour in the left-hand lane.)

Forty-ish Americans with demanding careers don’t need all the drama of resurrected school obligations. (“I WAS going to tell you all the virtues of our revolutionary new Parkinson’s drug —- but I think you need a subscription to “Field & Stream” for your waiting room even more.”)

And retirees have earned the right to travel or go antiquing or relax in the rocking chair. Assisted-living facilities don’t have to give way to assisted-wedgies facilities.

Continuing education would benefit some people, but it would leave others OVERQUALIFIED for their lifestyles. It’s quite enough to shout, “Hey, you kids get off of my lawn” without sharing all the latest discoveries about photosynthesis.

Don’t think that the curriculum would end with science. As the supply of victims dries up, expect history teachers to lecture about how imperialistic Americans exploited Hobbits, Trolls, Smurfs, etc.

The only upside I can see is that mandatory adult education would generate some really cool rock anthems.

Just imagine Pink Floyd insisting, “Hey, teacher, leave them AARP benefits alone!”

Or Alice Cooper bellowing, “Schooool’s out for colonoscopy!”


Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page, “Tyree’s Tyrades.”