There’s a generational problem here, a paralysing one.
Parents were raised to have a dream for their kids—we want our kids to be happy, adjusted, successful. We want them to live meaningful lives, to contribute and to find stability as they avoid pain.
Our dream for our kids, the dream of 1960 and 1970 and even 1980, is for the successful student, the famous college, and the good job. Our dream for our kids is the nice house and the happy family and the steady career. And the ticket for all that is good grades, excellent comportment, and a famous and good university.
And now that dream is gone. Our dream. But it’s not clear that our dream really matters. There’s a different dream available, one that’s actually closer to who we are as humans, that’s more exciting and significantly more likely to affect the world in a positive way.
When we let our kids dream, encourage them to contribute, and push them to do work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are difficult for us to imagine. When we turn school into more than just a finishing school for a factory job, we enable a new generation to achieve things that we were ill-prepared for. Our job is obvious: we need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has. Either our economy gets cleaner, faster, and more fair, or it dies.
If school is worth the effort [and I think it is], then we must put the effort into developing attributes that matter and stop burning our resources in a futile attempt to create or reinforce mass compliance.