March 7, 2011

Paul Krugman argues in Degrees and Dollars this morning that college degrees are becoming less valuable every decade.  I couldn't agree more.  The old carrot trick telling five year olds they have to sit still and study hard so they can get into good colleges so they can be upper middle class wealthy adults is no longer true.   Of course, its always been true that bad grades do not predict success in life, they don't even always predict the ability to get into college.  But now its also true that the job market is forever changed.  The jobs that will always be here are the jobs we create for ourselves.  Given that, how do we prepare children for adult life?  Do we put them in class rooms and drill math facts?

My kids spent about 40 minutes eating a hot breakfast this morning.  Sitting in the warm morning sunshine with cold milk and steaming hot food in front of them, they did what they most often do at meals.  They visited the world they created called Pez.   This morning in Pez, May was in a bind.  She was running a successful business selling ice cream when a competitor showed up.  Apparently the competitor was neither sane nor fair.  May's mother could not help her.  Polite negotiation was not working.  And May had to solve this problem to save her business.  For 40 minutes, in the warmth and safety of their own home where the stakes were nil, the children worked hard to solve an intractable problem of huge importance.  May was required to be brave, confrontational, and resourceful.  Together the children engaged each other with the most outrageous creative problem solving and role-playing possible.  They set for themselves and navigated a very real and salient adult problem.  They laughed often and left the table well fed on many different levels.

One drifted away to practice guitar.  Another will likely spend the next several hours upstairs drawing.  Later we'll leave for guitar lessons and errands.  Tomorrow will be another day with a new set of challenges.  This is like no curricula I've ever encountered in any school public or private; we call it unschooling.

1 comment:

val said...

An awful lot happens in a space where you can be yourself, where you can eat when you're hungry and sleep when you're tired.

Wow. The world would be a whole different place, you know?

love, Val