That’s the question my 6yr old asked me about a month into kindergarten. It made me laugh at the time. And my answer?
But the question was a real one. And it has haunted me for several months. Because under that very innocent question, is a real one and is sounds something like this.
“Is this really how it’s suppose to work? Am I really suppose to spend an entire week learning how to spell the word you? Am I really going to rewrite the alphabet for the entire year?”
This is why the question haunts me. Because the last thing in the world, I want for my kids, and other kids, is to squeeze all the curiosity & passion out of them…at age 6. The last thing in the world I want for my kids and other kids is to create another generation of dream stealing.
So what are the reasons to educate our kids? The list below is noble, very noble and, we’ve only done well, really well, on one of them.
- To create a society that’s culturally coordinated.
- To further science and knowledge and pursue information for its own sake.
- To enhance civilization while giving people the tools to make informed decisions.
- To train people to become productive workers.
If you picked Number 4, you’re right, and I hope it made you cringe as much as it made me cringe.
That’s because, when the system was created over 150 years ago, we needed more productive, compliant workers. We had a lot of factories that needed workers, who were well schooled in how to be a productive, compliant worker. How to not question authority, how to obey people in power. It was the industrial economy.
That economy is still around, but it will not be in mass anymore. Not in the future, which is what our education system creates for.
We still have an agricultural economy, it’s just not the primary economy. Each of the ‘economies’ never really go away, they just stack on top of each other. I learned that concept from the futurist Edie Weiner several years ago when I attended her quarterly future trends sessions. (She has authored four books including Future Think.)
So, yes, we will still have parts of our economy that are industrial. Don’t be fooled into thinking industrial just means manufacturing. It includes many of the jobs in cubes today, that are replicable, replaceable, repeatable. Oh yes, it’s still around, but it is no longer the primary need for the future.
Now, depending on who you quote, it’s the technology economy , or the connected economy. The name it is called is irrelevant. The skills that are needed are not.
This means we have a problem. The education system is still creating millions of productive and compliant workers….who we will not need. (I would argue we are already seeing the beginning of this glut of need with the current number of unemployed new college grads.)
This is the part where I tend to get overwhelmed..and wonder what can I do?
And the answer is something. Do something. If you need a little inspiration, some thought provoking ideas to get started, consider reading Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin. By the way, it’s FREE. (You can download on a Kindle, your computer or print it.) The entire manifesto is about our current system of education. It’s filled with facts, thoughts, examples and resources.
It will make you think. It will make you feel. And hopefully, it will make you do something.
And if I’m being really honest, I could use your help on this one. This one REALLY takes a village.
Tonight, I will have a very different conversation with my kids. It’s a start. It’s something.