We’re preparing kids all wrong

Sheep

School, and education in general, isn’t just about preparing children for the world of work. But it’s certainly about getting them ready for the kind of world and economy they’ll inherit.

In this post by Seth Godin, he spells this out in stark terms:

We’ve trained people to be certain for years, and then launch them into a culture and an economy where relying on certainty does us almost no good at all.

Broken-field running, free range kids, the passionate desire to pick yourself—that seems like a more robust and resilient way to prepare, doesn’t it? Who’s teaching you what to do when the certain thing doesn’t happen?

My son’s recently started middle school and, at our insistence, has to do things and prepare things that we’d previously taken care of. He needs to be more organised. To be honest, he should have been doing this at an earlier age, but learned helplessness is built into our society’s approach to culture and education. We weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary by running around after him.

On reflection, perhaps the best thing I’ve ever done with our kids is getting them to talk to strangers – within safe environments, of course. If they want something when we’re out and about, then they’re going to have to ask for it and go and get it. But this small step is light years away from teaching them that the path of compliance doesn’t have guaranteed results at the end of it any more. That’s a whole mindset reinforced, both implicitly and explicity, through the current formal education system.

If you’re a parent or educator who hasn’t read Seth Godin’s free Stop Stealing Dreams ebook, now’s a perfect time to fix that. It’s a pretty quick read, and the PDF can be found here.

Note: as always when I critique our education system, all of this isn’t meant as teacher-bashing, but as a reflection on how we got to our current predicament where we have high-stakes testing, and both parents and teachers doing things that we know aren’t good for kids.

Image via Nomad Pictures