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Life in the Twenty-First Century without Analytical Algebra

Publication Date: 2002-12-17

In the old days, siblings with very different strengths and interests could both receive high school diplomas.

My brother Bob and I both attended the same high school - it was one of those national Blue Ribbon high schools - Mt. Lebanon in Pittsburgh, PA. It was a blue ribbon school for a very good reason - our school taxes were really hefty - our teacher salaries were second to none and we had a fine arts program that nobody could touch, along with every AP program in the book. My brother and higher math just did not get along. He certainly got the basics, but as I went on to all the college track courses, he went on to excel in all of the fine arts courses. I don't know what he earned in his so-called academic requirements - but I know he had a 4.0 in those art courses. But the point is - my brother graduated with a diploma that looks just like mine. Are our transcripts vastly different? - Yes. I did the whole college track thing and graduated with a 3.8. (My cum. from Penn State, where one majored in keg parties as much as anything else is quite another story).

As I buckled down at Penn State, filling my liberal arts requirements with classes like bowling, and television (wherein we actually sat for two hours and watched shows like Gomer Pyle and Gillian's Island), my brother put himself through a two-year graphics art program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, cleaning offices at night. He now designs billboards for a media giant. And they are the best damn billboards in the country! He wins award after award, and was once featured in the "best of the quarter" section of Advertising Age Magazine. When I hear about how no one could possibly make it in this 21st Century Global economy without analytical Algebra, blah blah blah, I tell them that my brother is doing quite well thank you very much. In fact, the 21st Century Global Economy loves Bob!! He is selling scads of products for all sorts of international companies.

If you walk into Mt. Lebanon High School today, you will see an exquisite mural of antique cars painted on the wall outside of the drivers ed. room - painted by my brother in 1978! It was so fantastic that they have not let anyone paint over it all of those years. There is not a trace of me in that high school. Who is to say who was the bigger success?

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