So, in giving a presentation recently about the need for fundamental innovation in traditional education, I asked the college student audience to pretend that they were parents of a young child. I then asked them what I ask actual parents of young children: imagine it’s 15-18 years from now and your young child is now a young adult, ready to go off into the world. Imagine that you are terribly pleased with who this young adult is. You are confident that they will be successful in navigating their way through their life, whatever comes along. Wonderful. Now tell me who this young person is? What is the basis for your confidence?
I get the usual answers of: self-motivated, responsible, caring, confident, independent…. THEN, someone says something that most parents don’t ever mention: “they should have a skill or developed ability in something”. Oh, they should be able to “do something”! This is new. Makes sense though.
“Good idea!” I say. Then we talk about what skills and who should decide. I present the idea, not my own, that children should go through their school years having an experience that allows then to discover who they are. This need not be an existential life-search to “find themselves”, but it should be an experience that has lead them to become “the best version of themselves possible”. They should know what they are good at and what they are passionate about and find where those two intersect. As Ken Robinson (http://sirkenrobinson.com/skr/) has pointed out, it’s not always the case that what you’re good at you’re also passionate about, and vice-versa.
Let’s make schools that allow for this. Let’s have schools where students come out knowing who they are, what they’re good at, what “moves” them.. and have them go DO that. This is a fabulous “outcome” for education. As you know, there are too many adults (I told this college student audience that “more than half”) are employed in jobs that do not fit this criteria. They work at something that is “a job”. We can do better. We can have a better world if people do the work that they are best suited to. But we need schools that help them find this out. This is not today’s traditional schools.
Again – spread the word: change the education conversation.