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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, May 26, 2024
HomeCommentaryOp-edThoughts from a Dad

Thoughts from a Dad

As a Dad of two I have some thoughts.
I am also a Head of School with the privilege of interacting with 300 plus students daily, thus I get the opportunity to learn from oh so many. (I have a big family!)
As we know, each child is different, but here are some general thoughts.
The world is changing rapidly. It is not the same world we parents were raised in, yet our life’s knowledge is the fundamental basis from which we make our decisions and actions. Just because we are adults does not mean we have to stop learning. In fact, learning today is as enticing as it has ever been. But, do not get lulled into thinking it is easy.
Children are indeed born with a natural sense of curiosity. They have an innate desire to learn. We need to maximize the development of that attribute. (Read Montessori and Daniel Pink books for more information.) Unfortunately many in society want to and try to stymie that innate desire.
Think about it: how many times do we tell our children do not? We tell them what to do; we tell them what to think; and we tell them what to say. We do this, rather than encouraging them to develop their natural curiosity and let them pursue knowledge and answers. Our goal is to have them succeed, and we do this by creating for them paths of least resistance. We justify this by saying to ourselves: we had it so rough; I want to make it easier for my child.
Instead, we should encourage them to travel the path that will maximize their learning and increase their confidence level, and this may be one with many hurdles. It is okay to fail. Out of failure comes success. The inquisitive mind learns from mistakes. Instill in your child, and yourself, persistence in the face of setbacks, learning from mistakes, learning from criticism, embracing challenges. (Some parents said their little loved ones could not run the eight miles to Magens Bay, yet they ventured forth and proudly crossed the finish line.)
Human beings have three primary forms of motivation:
1. Biological – Survival Instincts: All animals will feed themselves, reproduce and defend their young.
2. Rewards and punishments: Do this and you get this.
3. Innate desire to learn: A baby is born, they hear others speaking, they learn to speak; they see others walking, they learn to walk; they see, they touch, they learn.
What follows are my thoughts/observations. Humans developed via (1) and (3) above from the cave to urban life. When humans became social urbanites, leaders realized method 2 was necessary to have a functioning society. They had to "train" people to be members of society with rewards and punishments. We needed blacksmiths, cooks, police, factory workers, etc. and thus society created an education system that promoted conformity by using learning profile two.
Today’s traditional US education was indeed designed during the Industrial revolution to be a factory like, cost-effective, method for sending our children through a boilerplate education – one method fits all – with little room for individual creativity and little regard for developing a life-long love of learning. Creativity and inquisitiveness were not featured traits, or even desired.
Yet, some continue to be motivated by 3 (that innate desire to learn), and today the fruits of their thinking are having a serious positive impact on society. Some well-known examples are Jeff Bezos (creator of Amazon), Sergey Brin and Larry Page (creators of Google), Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook), Jimmy Wales (creator of Wikipedia) and Richard Branson (Entrepreneur). Creations of the inquisitive are replacing the "trained". Computers, robots, drones, and other technologies are and will continue to replace the trained workforce. For children to succeed, they will need to be the forward thinkers, the creative thinkers, the planners and self-motivated individuals of their world.
Education comes in many forms but the most fundamental and essential element of education is creating a desire and love for learning. As we know, children’s interest change from time to time; they will always have new likes and dislikes, (foods, careers, people) thus they will always need to acquire new knowledge. Developing the basic love of learning will allow them to excel during their lifetime. They will want to explore new areas of interests, pursue new careers, acquire new knowledge and not be intimidated by their own ignorance. They will seek new knowledge and thinking rather than resent education and seek complacency. No matter what our children learn today or in the next fifteen years, they will always have to learn more to succeed. We do not live in a status quo world.
There is more learning to be done than at school. Learning must go on at school, at home, in the community and beyond. That is why you hear me talk about the three-legged stool. One cannot merely contract out to a school the responsibility of educating your child. You have to continually create the environment to encourage and to promote your child’s natural desire to learn.
A parent should never be satisfied with the level of education at a school; they should want more. Use other tools that are available beyond "school work": Kahn Academy; Brain Pop; PBS; Discovery; Baby Einstein; National Geographic, etc. Read any and everything.
Going to college is not the Holy Grail; attaining knowledge and the ability to think is the Holy Grail. Yes I just said that!!!
Soon, many university campuses will disappear! Online education will become commonplace for many children and adults. (You as a learner and as a parent should take courses on edx.org or udacity.org. In fact, take a course with your child if they are ready!) You can advance your current life by igniting your innate desire to learn. Make the time. The benefits are enormous. It’s cost effective and time manageable and it ignites a feeling of success and limitless possibilities rather than a sense of stagnation in one’s life.
Education is the ultimate asset in life; it opens doors, opportunities, experiences, sensations. Better education creates a better life!!!
Do not procrastinate. As we know as parents, time goes by so quickly. Every day is a learning opportunity.
The multi trillion dollar question is this: what will happen to the billions of "trained" people in our world that will become unemployed by the tools of the inquisitive mind?
Do not let your child be raised as a trained learner. Promote the inquisitive growth mindset.
Note: Michael Bornn is the head of the VI Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy, and the father of two children.

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