Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Getting Ahead

How far behind do we set our children when we strive, with fervor, to get them ahead in life?

Do children really need to play instruments from the time they can walk? Do they need "educational programs" to prepare them for the rigors of Kindergarten? Do they need Kindergarten? Do they need to start their professional sports careers in cutthroat athletic programs? Do they need to dance and sing and make it big at 5 or 8 or 12?

OR do we need pictures for the relatives, and bragging rights, and validation?

I find it valuable to consider the motivation before assuming societal norms are best. It is easy to choose things for our children because it reflects well on us. That's a mighty big mountain to place in the paths of our children.

A society of overachievers looks fabulous on the surface. What's below that surface is alarming.

We push insignificant things on them earlier and earlier. We test them before they have the self confidence to choose learning rather than memorizing to please. We stuff their mind's with images they can't possibly process and then wonder why core values and principles seem to be lacking. We create a mini-me, rather than nurturing individuals.

We "get them ahead" and leave them far behind. They are without essential life skills and values paramount to the pursuance of their own happiness. Their own goals and dreams are lost somewhere in the thick fog of societal, familial, and peer pressures. Worse yet, they don't even know what goals and dreams are; there is no space or time for them to formulate any of that. We do it for them. Just ask school and Google.

We are obsessed with "information". We tweet on twitter, we attempt to validate our lives on Facebook, we blog perfection, we watch YouTube and hold it as a mark of success. We always think we know everybody else's business. We are obsessed with empty "achievement" that brings outward recognition and no inner satisfaction. True success has been hijacked and we now have "in your face awesomeness" running rampant. Abiding satisfaction is lost somewhere between entertainment and meaningless awards.

Children need to play and discover. They need to be exposed to many wonderful and wholesome things so they can be in awe and wonder. They need time. They can survive without "screens" (and so can we). They can learn and grow and be very, very happy. They can thrive. A pleasing and simple childhood can offer a lifetime of stability, come what may.

There is a lot of come what may these days. Do you wish you would have had more demands on your time as a child, or less? Do you wish your family would have spent less time enjoying one another and developing lasting and healthy relationships, or more?

We are not getting anyone ahead. Despite what their "test scores" and "achievements" might say.

Some Excellent Reading:
A Call to Brilliance, Resa Steindel Brown
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, John Taylor Gatto
Deconstructing Penguins, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
How to Hug a Porcupine, John C. Lund
Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, Oliver and Rachel DeMille

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