Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Teach Poor Kids How to Sell

Poor kids are not taught how to sell.

If you look at the classified ads in any major newspaper, the majority of jobs fall into three categories:

1. Jobs that require a credential based on advanced technical education (mostly medical and engineering).
2. Jobs that are low-wage with little opportunity for advancement.
3. Sales jobs: very high potential income, no degree required.

If a person from a low-income household doesn't happen to be technically-inclined, what are they going to do? Get a liberal arts degree at great expense? I know of many bright working class people who think of education as a waste of time.

But what if they really, really learned how to sell? Suddenly numerous high-paying jobs would be open to them. Moreover, successful sales people often rise to higher positions in entrepreneurial sales organizations. Entrepreneurs must be capable of selling their ideas. Expertise in selling one's ideas is crucial to success within most organizations.

In my classroom work I was actively developing students' ability to be articulate. Often times I would explain to students: Speaking well can be your number one source of earning potential. If you can speak clearly and persuasively, you can achieve just about anything.

I have known several poor, uneducated immigrants who came to the U.S. with no connections whatsoever and became wealthy simply by means of their ability to sell. I have known inner-city kids who have the charisma and doggedness to be brilliant sales people - if they only had the cultural savvy and ability to speak the English of the educated classes they could become wealthy.

And yet there is no time in the standard K-12 system to develop such skills. The odd elective speech course here or there simply isn't enough, especially for students from homes in which they are not exposed to the standard English of the educated classes. They need many thousands of hours of training. You can't sell to people with money unless your speech is similar to that of the people to whom you are trying to sell. I could train most inner-city kids to speak like a Harvard graduate; but in order to do so we would have to skip much of the standard secondary curriculum (which is really a waste of time anyway).

Just another way in which existing K-12 education amounts to a cruel means by which well-meaning, earnest elites unwittingly enforce existing class hierarchies. This fact is utterly invisible to most academics because most academics have never had a sales job, have no respect for sales and marketing, and, I suspect, have rarely had to get a job from the classified ads at all.


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8:21 PM  
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1:30 AM  
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2:33 AM  
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8:17 PM  
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2:17 PM  

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