Jan 072011

While attending public school, I hated it. But, then, not many do like school when they are attending it. Now, as a father, whose children will soon begin to attend school, my thoughts are continually turned towards the constant stream of noise we hear about the failure of the school system. Our students are not scoring high enough in the SAT and ACT tests! Impending Disaster! [Cue the Fire Drill!]

Over the last few days, I’ve been watching a lot of the new TED talks that are available. Below, I’m embedding one that talks to the school systems and posits that they not only are failing, but that they are killing any creativity that there may be. In short, we begin our children off by telling them that they can be and do anything that they want to. And then we send them to school, where they are taught that they can’t do anything unless they score well on a test. What’s more, we abandon them to it. Aside from helping them figure out how quickly train A and train B will arrive at point C, we take no further interest in their education. We trust the school systems to teach them. But, what they are teaching them is not working.


I’ve always thought that a majority of the issue with the way our children behave and with the social problems (gangs, suicide, etc.) has far more to do with the involvement of the parents than any other factor. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children. It is our responsibility to foster their creativity.

They will guide humanity into the 21st century, and what better way than to do so as 21st Century Humans?  If you aren’t bringing your children along on this journey, not only are the schools failing, but so are you.

Jan 052011

In the mind of a child, the words bigger and older are synonymous. To them, getting older means that they also will get bigger.  For a child, being bigger opens up a world of opportunities.  Wherever they turn, they are met with restrictions based on their size.  They must be “this” tall to ride that ride.  Being bigger is their ticket to ride.

As we transfer into adulthood, this synonymy disappears.  Suddenly, all of those restrictions become based on our age.  You must be a certain age to vote, drink alcohol, and even retire.  At some point we may even be told we need to stop growing bigger, physically.  Suddenly, and drastically, the learned associations of bigger is better is replaced with older is better.

Too many of us, faced with this dilemma, stop all growth of any sort, and focus on aging instead.  Until, that is, we realize that our ability to age is finite.  At that point we begin doing what we can to stop the aging process, or reverse it even.  We find that the association of older is better is false, as well.  Older, suddenly, is worse.  And we can’t stop aging, so we come to the conclusion that we are getting worse.

What if, instead of abandoning the notion that all growth must end, we instead embrace the idea of growth in a non physical manner.  What if, we replace it with the notion that growing becomes a growth in spirit and in knowledge?

Growth doesn’t end with a certain age.  Despite the false idea that to grow means physical growth, we learn more in our childhood than at any other time in our lives.  By the time we have reached the age of five we have become fluent in at least one language, learned the proper usage of countless “tools”, attained most of our basic knowledge of social structure, and numerous other skills and abilities.

Let me ask you this; how many languages have you become fluent in since you turned five? How many of you can change the oil in your car or the memory in your computer? How many of you are “stuck” at your job because you lack the skills for anything else?

Growth isn’t something that should be abandoned at 18.  Instead, we should shift our focus from growing physically, to growing mentally.  We should shift from feeding our expanding waistlines to feeding our minds.

How will you “grow” this year?  What will you learn to expand your knowledge?  Will you learn a new language?  A new skill?  Or, will you remain content to merely be satisfied with what you know?