I read an article this morning from Christopher Brown. It confirms a great deal of what I lament about education in the United States. What we are witnessing is a vicious cycle of underachievement under the guise of STEM. And worse, it is staring as early as kindergarten. My hope is that you are not a part of the problem perpetuating the same behaviors at home. Remember, sit down and be silent are not life skills. Teaching children to follow the rules is not as sustainable as teaching them decision-making skills. Teaching children to avoid causing problems is not as sustainable as teaching problem-solving skills. And, as Christopher discusses in his piece, please allow kids to play!
Where Play is Forbidden
Assembly-line training. Even under the guise of STEM training—the Math and Literacy focus that Christopher mentions in his piece—the children are missing the most important ingredients in the development of leaders. They can’t get to self-regulation if they are always regulated externally. They can’t comprehend a cycle of health and pro-social behavior if their decision making is never processed. The cycle of our educational system as it stands is forced conformity, breaking of spirit, rehearsal of monotony, and reinforcement that the monotony is desirable. It is classic programming.
I propose a system more akin to think-tank operations be promoted in your home. Rather than making Math and literacy an end unto themselves, encourage them within the context of play. One of my fondest memories is playing computer games with my 4-year old daughter on a local area network. I would type words in the chat as we played. The game was a vehicle for communicating site words and challenging my daughter to communicate in writing.
The cycle opposite the assembly line method of education would support leadership development. It is less formal in many respects, but no less structured. I refer to it as providing fences rather than mazes. Boundaries still exist, but the choices within the boundaries are less prescript. The cycle would more closely resemble ambiguous exploration, identification of passionate interest, inductive research, development of collaborative team, reinforcement of value through expansion of team.