Nearly 25% of high school students at a large school district in the state of Washington skip school every day.

Obviously, these teens think high school, at the least, is a joke or, at best, worth only 75% of their time.

Makes me wonder about their effort during the 75% they attend school!

David, a high schooler doing running start while working part-time said, “High school is a joke because up to 90% of the students at my school, on any given day, do not want to be there.”

David continued, “We have two niche groups. In the cafeteria; the athletes and popular group sit on one side. The rest of us on the other. Being bullied is the hardest part of school for my friends and me.”

Whatever you believe about schools in America, one would be hard-pressed to believe modern-day high school students are not facing the most difficult challenges of any generation.

A few years ago 385 student-athletes attended NBC; they came from multiple states and Canada. 135 of these students knew of an attempted suicide at their school. Shock is the best word to express my reaction.

Three weeks later 131 high schoolers came to another camp in a different state. This time the number was 51 attempts by their peers.

Suicides were once unheard of; it was a foreign subject to us grandparents during our high school years. Frankly, some would not have been able to spell suicide.

Not one student at my high school was taking anti-depressants. If we were depressed we didn’t know it. 

When encouraged to answer hard questions, teens have similar answers.

Why would high school or college students end their lives?

Common answer – they lost their purpose.

Why do you say high school is a joke? 

Common answer – they do not teach critical thinking. They don’t stop bullying.

When asked even more serious questions:

Do you know of friends who use illegal drugs?

Do you personally know of students who talk about taking their lives, being sexually active, deal with depression or drink alcohol too much?

Nearly all say “yes.”

My intent is not to disparage high schools. To the contrary, my purpose is to challenge educators to diagnose the problem, not make excuses or blame others.

In 50 years of educational experience, I think it is not lack of money; it is not inadequate facilities; it is not poor pay for teachers; it is not idiot parents.

In my view, these Words of Hope are about hope. In simplistic terms, high school education is in trouble today because we are teaching the wrong things. We are not teaching the most important crucial things!

Attitude is king. Attitude is more important than behavior. The “want to” in the learning process is superior to the “how to.”

The “want to” drives the human engine. We call this meaning and purpose. Motivation was, is, and will forever be the engine in education. 

After 50 years of teaching and counseling at all levels, my conviction says, “First we train, not teach, students how to win. Winning is learned behavior. It is a field of study more important than field trips, victorious athletic teams, cheer squads, or curriculum days.

To my knowledge, there isn’t a class in America on:

  • WHY & how to win.   
  • WHY & how to win math.
  • WHY & how to win English.
  • WHY & how to win against a bully.
  • WHY & how to win over failure.
  • WHY & how to understand & develop meaning and purpose.
  • WHY & how to grow courage & confidence.
  • WHY & how to understand & develop the belief system housed in the subconscious mind.

One of the fierce debates in American history was the subject of public versus private education.

William James, Thomas Dewey and other proponents of public education believed the government had a duty to provide free education to all citizens. Noble idea. They believed this was essential to the success of a country.

Antagonists of free public education believed once the government got involved morals and values would be eliminated from the school curriculum. Teaching right and wrong would disappear, moral judgments would be considered illegal to be discussed, and spiritual truth would be banned from the classroom. God would no longer be welcome in the American government schools.

The battle was as fierce over this matter 200 years ago as the present day debate we have over health care. It was Tongue War then and now! 

Free public education is a wonderful, beautiful gift to every American. Unfortunately, our forefathers and mothers who fought against government education were correct – Values and morals based on absolute truths are absent in most public schools. 

We tossed out teaching the most important educational skill; the skill of WHY & HOW TO WIN LIFE. To Win Life starts with the two things we can control, ATTITUDE & EFFORT. 

It is impossible to be educated if you have a negative attitude and don’t embrace hard work as a virtue. It really is that simple.

Each summer, for 45 years, thousands of students from all walks of life attend NBC Sports Camps. Our mission is to teach the WHY & the HOW to WIN.

One of life’s most difficult schools is to live in the precious present. Too many live in the past and too many live in the future. Too few live in the moment.

If you can win the moment you can win the minute. If you can win the minute you can with the hour. If you can with the hour you can with the day.

Where are you? “I am right here, right now!” This is a fundamental core value everyone should master.

Who are you? “I am a miracle!” This is the fountain of encouragement that takes students through the tough times life presents.

Who made you? “God made me.” This is the conviction that gives it meaning and purpose for life.

There is no greater joy. There is no superior trophy. There is no greater purpose. There is no better satisfaction than this.

Being part of the transformation of a person who learns WHY and HOW to win life is life’s greatest reward. It makes money look like dirt. Fame like tinsel.

Life offers two choices: You either live for things or you live for people. If you live for things you are using people to get things. If you live for people you will use things to help people.

Teaching the WHY & the HOW to WIN means giving students and adults the life skill tools to make all of life a miracle. This is called LIFEBALL; best game ever because it takes the joke out of high school and the hopelessness out of living.