INSIDE OUT: Part Two – Education

It is totally appropriate that this, my 300th post, be dedicated to the well-being and careful cultivation of children.  No amount of nuclear arms, of oil in the ground, of dollars in our pockets or of Machiavellian desires can come close to the importance of raising up the next generation in order to turn our world back to the right side out.  There is no doubt that the proper caring and feeding of our children, our most valuable resource,  are vital to the overall health and perpetuation of our planet and those that occupy it.

In her talk with Brian Williams the other day on NBC, Michelle Obama, offered no apologies for limiting her public appearances to two or three per week, and sometimes, to zero.  She takes very seriously her responsibilities to the two little girls she and her husband brought into this world.  Admittedly, raising children is a very time consuming, labor-intensive process.  Lady O., with her usual aplomb and dedication, will not skimp on the time necessary to rear these children.  Nor does she offer apologies to the trust she has in her own self , such as “I am a Harvard educated lawyer so what am I doing JUST raising kids?”.  Her role as mother IS the most valuable at this point in time.  I applaud her focus and determination, and her ability to cut through all the other plumage of life and tackle what is now her number one priority: her children.   Additionally, when Lady O. does make public appearances, they are invariably for the benefit of children.

The effort to reverse our inside-out world must start at home, and then progress to our schools and then outward into the world at large.  Our educational mission has also been turned inside out in recent decades.  This is partly due to trying to teach to the least common denominator, to force all the children to fit into one mold, instead of adapting the programs to fit the childrens’ needs, diverse and many as they may be.

Some say that we have sucked all the creativity out of our kids through the education process.  The following is a talk by Sir Ken Robinson.  Spare yourself the 20 minutes to listen to this very funny man, who also has a few pearls of observation about schooling our children.  You have my guarantee that you will adore this man:the content of this video:

Mr. Robinson, in no uncertain terms, calls for an end to the practice in public education of quashing individual creativity.  He believes that creativity in education should be permitted the same status as literacy.  It is creativity that allow children the opportunity to take chances, and taking chances is what underlies advancement, whether it be purely intellectual, or moral, or conducive to progress and prosperity in general.  He speaks of our habit of “stigmatizing” mistakes, so by the time children reach adulthood, they no longer “take chances”.  As a result, we “grow out” of creativity.

Also, why is it that many children can not remember historical dates, scientific theories or mathematical formulas all the while remembering every single word to countless songs?  Why is it that that the most itch-titchy child, the one who can not sit still for two minutes, the one who can not focus on the task in front of him, will spend hours on an art project, totally in his own world, producing an end product that is marvelous?  I fear that our education system, through its overwhelming goals of standardization and homogenization, is purifying all the individual talent right out of our children and thus, our society.  It is high time for our public education system to stop sacrificing individual creativity for the sake of overall socialization.

Mr Robinson defines creativity as “having original ideas that have value.”  Intelligence is the “interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things”, with the key words being “different disciplinary ways”.  It is our role as parents to provide a safe environment for our children so that their inner creativity can flow outwards.  Just as life on earth need sunlight and water to thrive, so children need warm, supporting arms to safeguard them.  A personal pet peeve of mine is to allow children the time and luxury for introspection.  Over-stimulation and an endlessly structured schedule is just as harmful to human growth potential as is boring academic lessons.

Those of us who are older now have the absolute obligation to those of us who are younger to teach by example, open and honest dialogue, directed actions, and to make a safe, welcoming and supportive atmosphere where individual talents may flourish.

So let us attend to the children and provide an education for them that promotes individual creativity.  Let us recognize  the children for the hope that they are.  In this most basic way, we may be able to correct the inside out world we have so dangerously created over the last few decades.  Time to turn the world right side out again.

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One Response to “INSIDE OUT: Part Two – Education”

  1. amy lilley Says:

    love this post…glad to see Sir Ken Robinson ’embedded’….

    MAZAL TOV on your 300th post…you have a couple of excellent books here…and dare I say, here’s to the next 300…YIKES!!!!

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