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Education includes learning common sense

Students returned to school this past week to begin another year of learning and preparation for life in our constantly changing world. As I think about education today, (common core, college prep, workforce ready and other politically charged acronyms), I feel very good that our schools will provide the opportunity for the very best education in the world. Students must individually decide to what extent they are willing to take advantage of all that is offered.

While I strongly encourage students to “buckle down” and study hard, I also think they should find ways to relax and learn what my mother called ‘common sense.’

Common sense can bring a better understanding of all the dynamics involved in the decisions we have to make in life. It allows us to choose the correct approach, while showing consideration of others.

My wife’s granny used to say, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” or “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” If you can understand that wisdom, you may have common sense. If not, you may need to work on that.

So where is this common sense available? I found a great deal of mine (now don’t judge me before you read all I have to say) in Pete’s Pool Room in my hometown of Griffin, Georgia. Pete’s was not the poolroom that you might be imagining. Pete did not sell alcohol, he did not allow gambling, nor did he allow profanity (cussing) in his establishment. Pete knew better than most that all those vices did not build strong character and integrity in men, both young and old. Without ever saying so, Pete taught that we must first respect ourselves before we could respect others.

Now that is common sense!

When I served as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, I would end our board meetings with one of ‘life’s lessons’ learned in Pete’s Pool Room. I’ll offer some of these lessons as a dose of ‘common sense’ that just might allow our kids to better apply those Common Core values being taught in today’s classrooms.

You won’t find these on television, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat or other social media.

You learn these lessons by living them.

The poolroom had painted signs along the walls that offered valuable life lessons. They also helped my

Dad, a Southern Baptist bi-vocational pastor, comfort when he learned that I was ‘hanging out’ in Pete’s.

“Luck is against the man who depends on it”was a little card that hung on the light above the first table.

That’s where I realized that practice, not luck, is a valuable life lesson. Take that lesson into a classroom where Advanced Math is being taught.

“Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind trying to express itself forcibly.” Put that lesson into your cell phones and read it before texting. Pete did not want profanity in his poolroom. More importantly, he wanted that message to become part of our life.

“No Gambling” was another lesson on the wall.

What we learned was gambling on anything was risky. Of course we young teenagers would bet fifty-cents to a dollar on a game, but we knew when Pete caught us he would suspend us for three days to a week.

He also knew that we were going to face tough decisions in our lives, and if we took a gamblers approach, the direction of our lives could be forever changed. (All this wisdom learned in a poolroom).

Education and common sense can work together to prepare young people for life.

Find your ‘Pete’s Pool Room,’ and pay attention to the life and common sense lessons being taught. Learn to recognize good from bad. Be brave enough to say no when you feel you’re values and life’s lessons are being challenged. If the opportunities you are facing are not equal to your values, are not morally based and solid, then step away as quickly as possible.

While I was playing pool I did not realize that Pete was a mentor for my friends and me. I hope that more adults today would be like my friend and mentor Pete Jones. I learned many, many important life’s lessons from Pete.

The most important?

Be a positive leader, not a follower in school and in life!