Bill Hewgley: Getting An Education, The Easy Or Hard Way

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Foundation to Everything is Elementary School 

Reading, writing, arithmetic and personal communication skills form the basis for all careers that pay more than minimum wage-skip this and go straight to poor…period.

I was taught many years ago to not judge abilities, but rather the skill sets of individuals under consideration for employment.  We may not be qualified to assess your innate ability to learn, but we can easily observe you and determine if you have put in the time and effort to master certain skills and prepared yourself to convince a businessperson to invest more time and money into you in hopes you can be profitable for the company.  Formal education, training, emotional discipline, personal grooming, combined with good language and social skills are for the sole purpose of becoming economically valuable at work (or getting the mate of your dreams). If you are going to be a hermit and live off the land, no formal education is required, but you will have to learn some pretty harsh lessons, really quickly to survive in the wild. So, the question is: “What do you want to be in life?”   

No matter how you answer that question, elementary and high school are the greatest gifts that society will ever give you. Until you are almost grown, we will provide you a free public education…if you will just take it from us.  We don’t expect much from our young people, other than going to school and maybe a little part time work or chores to learn work ethic, until you get to age 21. Heck, we won’t even draft you into the Army and send you to a “tropical paradise” like Vietnam any longer.  You do not have to go to college to be educated. You do not have to go to college to be successful. You do not have to go to college to have a great life, but you desperately need these skills/personal traits in your tool belt. Why not?

Just knowing stuff is not being educated 

I was told that the red eye on Mom’s stovetop would burn me, but I was not fully educated until I touched it to find out for myself! That rule applies in love, too. 

Working as a construction welder at age 19, I was wavering on going back to college when an older journeyman told me this: “Ninety-five percent of the people tighten a bolt into a hole…3 percent of the people tell them which bolt, which hole and how tight…2 percent know why the darn thing’s there.  Which one do you wish to be?”

I have always wondered if the kids who have memorized the entire Webster’s Dictionary for the Spelling Bee can use the words in real life later on. Never use a word without understanding it…friends have been lost and wars started for less. 

Today’s spelling bee word and sentence: Tattoo. Never tattoo a place you cannot cover up when required…it will be much appreciated at Grandparents’ Day or family wedding photos in the future. Barbed wire Granny biceps are not cool.

Next week’s topic: Back up your new skills and personal presentation with good values. Note: It is much harder to be good than to look good. 

Please send topics or questions for future discussion.  Conversations lead to understanding; understanding leads to vision, vision leads to wherever your hard work will take you. 

Email Bill Hewgley at

(About the Author: Bill Hewgley is president, Metalworking Solutions, LLC. Bill grew up near South Pittsburg, the youngest son of good parents of humble means. He married the girl of his dreams at a young age and worked his way through college at the University of Tennessee.

He is currently reaping the true rewards of a faithful hard working life with his bride of 40+ years in being able to enjoy their four wonderful grandchildren. Bill is having the time of his career heading up the team at Metalworking Solutions, a company he founded after retiring as President of American Manufacturing Company. One of his chief priorities now is to mentor this upcoming millennial generation, while honoring those who helped him find his own way in life, by passing it on.)

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