Dreaming a Bigger Dream for …A Wellness Movement In Education

imgres 1 Dreaming a Bigger Dream for ...A Wellness Movement In EducationIn my last blog posting, I asked you to dream a bigger dream for a wellness movement in education and college admissions.  So let’s do it.  First, education…

What do we do in a world where the entire human knowledge set doubles every 8 years now (according to the AAAS) due to the proliferation of knowledge through the internet?  How do we decide what our youngest humans should be learning now when much of the stuff they are expected to master, especially in science, will probably change within a few years?  We already know that education does not directly prepare anyone for a specific job.  Hell, seven years ago there was no such thing as a ‘smart phone’ (a/k/a crack cocaine) or Twitter.  Whole industries go the way of the buggy whip and new ones explode into our lives seemingly overnight.  The pace of all of this is dizzying.

So what is the purpose of education anyway?  I believe it’s to stoke up a person’s natural curiosity, open the mind and encourage love of learning so that person will be a lifelong learner.  This means that no matter what happens on Planet Earth, humans will continue to be resilient and resourceful because they can think critically and make good decisions.  Everything else is gravy.

The simple fact we must accept is that there are just too many facts to learn now.

The game has changed.  Kids need to be taught how to look for necessary information, critically analyze it and make good decisions.  It sounds deceptively simple, but this is not trivial.

Let’s blue sky here a bit… if we had to create a brand new educational system, to start over again from scratch, what would that look like?

Think wellness.

Imagine a curriculum where the fundamentals  of reading, writing and arithmetic are taught in elementary school.  Middle schools use these basics as tools, but the focus begins to switch to critical analysis of information, culminating in a high school curriculum where students are trained to solve problems of any kind, in any field.  Forget cramming dates and formulas.  Focus on principles.  Imagine graduating millions of young people who have learned how to think and analyze and make rational decisions, who know how and where to find the information needed to arrive at those decisions.  Imagine a citizenry who cannot be easily fooled into get-rich-quick deals by the sharks of society and who are fully vetted in their rights and responsibilities as members of a global society.

Notice that I did not mention AP courses, or SATs.   Or calculus.  (pardon the heresy, but do we really believe that most high schoolers need to learn calculus when they aren’t even taught how the government works or how to balance their proverbial check books? Really?)

Imagine an education so interesting that kids can’t wait to get to school to participate in learning because they get to physically move and play everyday, where they eat fresh foods (not processed crap) and drink plenty of water (not high-fructose corn syrup that poisons their bodies), where their smart phones are checked at the door and they are each seen and appreciated for who they are and what they uniquely offer.   Imagine that  kids sleep 8+ hrs/night, arrive at school ready to work at a time of the morning more suitable to the biology of teenagers and have both structure and downtime as needed.

We can do this, though we need the courage to accept what we know to be true, especially about the importance of sleep and good nutrition for growing bodies, to face the reality that what we are doing now is hurting kids, making them stressed beyond belief, loading on so much homework that they cannot get 8+hrs of sleep if they tried. We’re teaching them to game the system, to “do school” instead of actually training this next generation of human beings how to survive in a world that is so complicated and compromised that we adults can’t figure out solutions.  We’re screwing our own grandchildren because of mass delusion and ‘normalcy bias’.  Education is as sick as society has become.

I have found real intractability in education as if it is some sacred cow that must not ever be challenged or radically changed.  Well, if you connect the dots as I have, you come away seeing that the system we’re using is a 19th century model that has been patched as much as it can stand.  Time to do the big rethink.  Time to think wellness and thriving.  Time to grow up, be adults and take the lives of children yet to be born into  consideration now.  It’s our biological imperative as adults.

Time to dream big again.

Less Stress, More Success

"Her book has added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”
New York Times
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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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