Early Education Pitfalls
Elementary school is for three things:
- Socializing our kids
- Teaching our kids how to read pre-approved novels, multiply single-digit numbers in their heads, and memorize the “important” presidents like Abe Lincoln, John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush
- Beating some of their natural curiosity and imagination out of them and replacing it with what we think they should learn instead
I am not saying that kids shouldn’t go to school! I’m saying that kids need more encouragement to develop their own skills as well.
By them time they get to a certain age (like 16 or 17) it seems like some kids don’t have any idea what they want to do with their lives, but are feeling such a strong social pressure to “go to college” because that’s what everyone else is doing, that they give in, without a reason. No wonder we eventually end up with so many unhappy people at desks and cubicles, wishing they could have pursued their childhood passion professionally.
We would be in a much better place if our parents/teachers focused on some of our natural interests at an early age rather than forcing us to over-learn things we aren’t naturally geared towards learning. We could set up a system where children learn the basics, but get a chance to focus more (like 50%) of their learning on an area that suits them better (like picking a major in college.)
But until the day when this kind of learning is more widespread, some kids will be “left behind.”
What Parents Can Do
Make no mistake, elementary school is one of the most important times for a child. Any psychologist will tell you that they are very impressionable at this age. And bad experiences seem to stick with them forever. Don’t believe me? Think back to random memories from your own childhood (like around the ages of 5-8.)
As a parent, you have some power if you choose to send your kids to school. You can try to encourage your kids, from an early age (very important) to keep pursuing some of their natural curiosities. If you notice that little Madison likes to draw, and is pretty good at it, you should encourage him! You can be damned sure that Madison is going to get yelled at for drawing in his math class if he is caught, thus starting the typical path toward his eventual confusion.
I’m certainly not saying that ALL the confusion young people have about what they want to do as adults (professionally) comes from not being encouraged as a child. Some kids probably just don’t know. But a GREAT deal of future trouble could be eliminated for your child if you encourage them to develop their talents outside the classroom. If you are consistent enough in your praise, involvement, and encouragement, you can counteract the negative effects of force-fed learning and the social averaging that I talked about in an earlier entry.
Otherwise little Madison may end up going to college, spending tens of thousands of dollars to become a lawyer, and then failing miserably after a year.
As a parent, don’t confuse your kids further. Encourage them.
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