“Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!” (sing it with me.) Yes, Pink was on to something. Parents – leave them kids alone!
When did parenting become a vocation? When did parents become artists whose children are the raw material from which to sculpt their masterpiece? This is what too many parents do these days: from Baby Mozart (hopefully mostly debunked… right??) to prep-school for a prep-school for a prep-school…. getting into the “right” kindergarten, yes? Otherwise it’s all downhill. Helicopter parents who attend job interviews for their 18 and 22-year olds – then call up the employer when they don’t get the job to ask why. I don’t make this stuff up.
When president emeritus of the American Public Media Group, Bill Kling, was asked what his parents were like, he said “They were wonderful. They absolutely left me alone.” What?! Come again. Not in today’s world. He talks about all the exploration he did and experiments he invented (and, yes, things he blew up!) – all in the pursuit of his own ideas, his own conceptions, his own thinking, innovation and curiosity. That’s an education. That’s a child given the space, the freedom to learn. Not plugged-in, entertained and “activitied” (I made that up: it’s the parental over-scheduling act of having activities being thrown at you all too frequently). No, this was a child left on his own to learn.
It really is that simple. We are born to learn. That’s the one huge gift we are given at birth: ready and powerful learners. Naturally curious and explorative we will figure it out, whatever it is. It’s what humanity has done all along and will continue to do if we don’t short-circuit the system. Leave them children alone, and all will be fine.
We need anxious parents to relax, take a step back and understand that this is how it works best. There are too many parents motivated by good intentions but who are lacking some basic information.
A good new website provides some guidance: http://www.aidtolife.org