Its no secret that young people today face a multitude of complex issues as they move toward adulthood -- and often they have fewer guides on that path than previous generations. To help adolescents get started on their journey, former teacher and principal William Lee Swisher wrote Stand on My Shoulders: The Pocketbook Guide to Adulthood. Swisher has included brief overviews on such grown-up issues as employment, finance, loans, retirement, and discipline and children, to introduce young adults to these topics and hopefully, pique their interest for more information.
|William Lee Swisher|
Education World: What prompted you to write this book?
William Lee Swisher: As a society we do not do an adequate job of preparing our youth for life. I wrote this book to help young adults build a solid foundation on which to start. Though I am a retired educator, my desire to help young people has never abated because I know that our society is dependent on how well we prepare our young for the roles they will assume. It is our obligation to provide the shoulders on which they stand so that they can make the world a better place. For them to do this, they must know what we know so that they can build upon it. This book is a solid beginning.
EW: How can educators use this book?
Swisher: This book is what it claims to be, a guide. Every subject in this book has had hundreds if not thousands of books written on it. Each subject has been carefully selected based on necessary life skills and good-to-know information coupled with a macro perspective on many controversial issues from which, we, as educators, should not be running. This guide is definitely food for thought.
EW: During your time as an educator, from whom or from where did you most often see young people seeking guidance on adult issues?
Swisher: They either never sought guidance or did so only when they were in trouble or had a particular problem. Young adults worry about the here and now. That is why we have parents and teachers to prepare them for the future. Unfortunately, many parents are caught up in the daily routine of life and necessary discussions with their children never take place, and schools often have their hands tied when it comes to sensitive subjects. So who ends up paying the price of ignorance? We all do.
EW: You cover numerous serious topics in 45 pages -- financing a car, buying a house, dating, marriage, and death. Why did you choose to write a few pages about many issues, rather than focus on a few?
Swisher: A good educator can simplify complex subjects into core elements. Once the core elements are understood, the student can build upon them. As mentioned earlier, each subject has had volumes written on it. I wrote this book concisely and to the point so that it would be reader-friendly. Young adults arent going to read volumes. This book was designed as a foundation of information that will click on in a young adults head when it becomes applicable.
For example, when I was a young artillery officer leaving the service after my obligation, a major in headquarters pulled me aside and talked to me about how to buy a house with a VA loan and explained amortization to me. At the time it didnt really mean anything to me but I politely listened. Well, after several years it did mean much to me. I built upon his kindness and it meant savings of more than $100,000 and more financial security for my family and I. This book is loaded with click on information.
EW: What do you most hope young people take away from this book?
Swisher: Dont waste your life. Its a one-way trip with no guarantees. The world needs good people that make good choices; never stop learning; keep your mind open; and always try to be someone that you would respect.
This e-interview with William Lee Swisher is part of the Education World Wire Side Chat series. Click here to see other articles in the series.
Article by Ellen R. Delisio
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