Have you ever seen the 1939 MGM movie The Wizard of OZ (the one with Judy Garland)? Does that sound like a strange question, seeing as The Wizard of OZ is generally considered as one of the best-known films in American culture? I like to use it to teach but, believe it or not, most of my students had never seen it! True! I’d mention the Scarecrow from The Wizard of OZ when teaching the Pythagorean Theorem or the difference between a diploma and an education and my kids would look at me with expressions of confusion as genuinely muddled as if I had suddenly begun speaking Klingon. Oh, my dear under-cultured children! They also didn’t get the reference to West Side Story when I’d quote, “I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.”
You, however, have seen The Wizard of OZ (or even if you haven’t I’ll review enough for clarity) so let’s talk about what The Wizard of OZ can teach us about the difference between a diploma and an education. This is important because here in Los Angeles (and I believe elsewhere) we are being told that high school graduation rates are up. Sounds good, but don’t be fooled by this statistic. It grieves me to say this but, getting a diploma does not always mean you got an education.