Sunday, December 30, 2012

What we want for our children

I want my children to be happy.  I want them to have wonderful life full of adventure and creative pursuits.  I hope they make a difference in the world.  I think similar things are what most parents want for their children and all children.  And the question for society is - How do we make this a high probability for most children?

One-hundred years ago they wanted the same thing, they thought about it differently, but ultimately they thought if they could get their children a steady job, get them out of the country and into the city, get them an education that employers demanded, then their kids would have more options and a higher probability of "succeeding" and having a happy and prosperous life.  100-years ago this meant that they should learn the "basics" in school and become good at factory work.  Learn to listen, learn to mind your manners, learn to respect authority, learn to speak when spoken too, learn walk in a straight line, raise your hand and ask to be excused to the rest room, learn to compete against your friends/foes/classmates/cross town rivals in the classroom, playground, and sports field, all meant to give children their best chance at a healthy, productive, and happy life.

Today, almost all of that advice is wrong.  Absolutely, completely, wrong. 

We're in the middle of a fundamental economic and cultural transition that is completely changing the way we live, work, and learn.  Simply (although it is more complex) technology (mainly the internet), globalization, and demographics have completely changed the way we live, work, and learn, this is true whether you're 79, 39, 19, or 9.  But, if you're 9 or 19 you had better be prepared for it, or you will get left behind and there's a damn good chance that you will struggle for most of you life.

And those of us who can make a difference, who are old enough to demand different, are screwing these kids by putting them in schools that are still designed to train kids with the skills the world demanded in 1900 and we've got to change it.

This is a common theme for my blog, I've written and linked to articles about it many, many times:

Education Reform....continued
In times of dramtic change,why can't we change?
Education, Godin, cont.
The Goal of Education...cont.
Closing Education Gaps, to what end?
Why the United States is Destorying it's Education System
The Purpose of Education
Corporate Education
Brooks: On Education
Making the Strings Easy to Pull
Stop Stealing Dreams
Collaborative Education
Seth Godin

Look at better models, talk to your neighbors, write letters, lobby the school board, talk to the PTA, talk to your child's teachers, demand they stop standardizing in a world that demands individuals.  Demand they stop this silly testing, have the Superintendents and politicians back when they want to innovate, have their back when they get chastised for not giving a damn about the latest test scores or when they recognize that there are more important things than STEM.  And if that doesn't work?  I don't know.  I've got two kids, and I want the best for them, but right now I'm making them go to an institution that is hurting their chances at a great life. 

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