I watched this interesting animation yesterday about changing the education paradigm. It’s well worth the eleven and a half minutes. (I’ve included it below so you can easily watch it yourself. I’d love to hear what you think about it!) It really ramped up my awareness of WHY today’s educational system simply doesn’t work.
It’s been clear to me for a long time that the educational system that I grew up with, and what I see being experienced out there today is NOT supporting the optimum growth and development of our youth today.
Now… as I said, I just ran across this video last night and then today one of the first things I read was a blog post by Seth Godin talking about misguided management techniques.
Stay with me here… you might not see the relationship but climb into my mind for a moment (scary thought, that :). It’s actually quite simple, those same ineffective management techniques are being used in our educational systems… and even in our parenting.
For instance… we cling to the belief that we can be our child’s external compass by being their taskmaster. By yelling louder, pushing harder and relentlessly riding them we imagine we’ll generate excellence. Hoping that they will eventually start pushing themselves… and value excellence. But seriously, how well has this worked? Oh sure, bullying can give us the desired behavior right then… For instance… I recall being very short on patience and turning into a screaming banshee when watching the 10 year old, for the upteenth time, toss trash into the wastebasket only to have it bounce back at him because the trash bag was full even though it was HIS job to empty it when full. You can bet he emptied THAT bag of trash that day.
But as soon as you stop, they stop. I remember saying to my girlfriends that I must be a terrible mother because I simply didn’t have the constitution to scream at my kids all day every day. Today of course, I’m very clear it’s not necessary and certainly isn’t a good way to ‘manage’ people… so I no longer suffer any guilty thoughts at my inability to bully my way through the day. It might get one trash bag taken out… but it doesn’t last.
Another way parents try to manage their children, and schools try to manage their students, is by using competition. Pitting people against one another might work effectively for some… whether it’s posting grades on a wall, comparing one sibling to another, or telling the peewee hockey team they are one win away from earning a spot in playoffs… may work in the short run. It is part of our nature to be competitive, which is why it will work in the short run but the drawback is that there is only one winner, most competitors lose.
I am NOT suggesting your child needs to be steered totally away from competition. A bit of true, genuine competition, you know where there is a clear winner, can be a very good thing in their lives. I just wouldn’t recommend it as a form of managing people, children or adults. It trains them away from the cooperative spirit that truly leads to a fulfilling life.
That why I prefer the ‘open door’. Give people the space to show up with excellence. Set expectations to encourage them but then get out of the way. Help them when asked but don’t hover over them. People, even kids, will get hooked on achievement when it’s self-directed and they have the benefit of mutual support. And this means we have to get out of the way! Shouting at them from across the field, even with the best of intentions, isn’t going to help anything.
So, like the film below talks about how our children are living in a different time than we were. The ‘factory’ mindset simply doesn’t apply any longer. Our kids are living in a different space… standing on a different platform… one where co-operation and mutual support reign. Why not hold that space firmly for them? Yes there will be a learning curve around how to manage themselves to excellence… but there will be achievers eager to move ahead quickly, and many, many more willing to learn who will be able to produce amazing results.
So give yourself the gift of watching Sir Ken Robinson’s video about Changing Education Paradigms and ponder some ideas about how we, together, could make changes that will support our kids growth and enthusiasm for learning. Which will, in turn, benefit us all!