My childhood phone number was 3-5679. It was a big deal when we had to start dialing all seven numbers. Now, to call my next door neighbor, I have to dial ten numbers.
My second year in college, our campus got an internet connection. It was only available in one computer lab, and I remember making a special trip to go online for the first time. I sat staring at the screen not sure what to do next. I decided to search Troy Aikman, not a bad call. Over in the Business College lab, we were using dot matrix printers and five-inch floppy discs.
While finishing my Master’s degree in the summer of 2000, I took a class on the Internet Economy. We were told the usual business cycle no longer applied due to the nature of the internet economy. Growth was expected to be constant and without the volatility of the past. Hmmm, a few months later we saw the Pets.com debacle that became the poster child of the dot-com bubble.
I could go on and on, but what does this have to do with homeschooling and education?
The changes in the world during the past 15 years, since my oldest was born, are mind-boggling. Amazon was a joke, you could still walk into a Blockbuster and rent a movie, and I carried a pager for my job.
We’re fooling ourselves if we think we can determine what our children will need to know to be successful in the future. We have no idea. We can make educated guesses, assumptions, and predictions, but technology changes rapidly and with little warning.
As much as we adults like to prophesize about all the things they’ll have to know and do to be successful, we’re looking in the rear-view mirror and not a crystal ball.
Does this mean we throw our hands in the air and give up? Of course not, but we need to realize there isn’t one correct way. Many paths lead to a fulfilling, productive life, especially in today’s ever-changing world.
I worry our hyper-focus on STEM is misguided. They’ve recently thrown an A (art) in there, maybe because people like me complained, but do we envision and strive for a future where everyone’s highest calling is to code all day long. I hope not.
How do we then raise our children? I won’t use “prepare!”
Humans are adaptable and capable. I didn’t grow up with an iPhone in my hand, but it didn’t take me long to master its usage in my late 30’s. So why do we think kids need to be doing everything earlier and earlier?
Perhaps, we should let them fully experience childhood. Give them time to hold the roly-poly, pause to feed the ducks, and lay on the trampoline looking up at the leaves. Provide the time to wonder without rushing off to an adult-directed activity in an attempt to make them “well-rounded.”
Ultimately, we need to help them become themselves fully. As someone who has never actually known what I wanted to do or what would make me happy, it’s one of my highest goals to help my children figure that out for themselves.
However, I don’t do that by signing them up for every activity looking for the one that sticks. I do that by letting them just be. This is sometimes hard, but I work to provide them with the time to know themselves.
I don’t want them labeled as Alice, the smart one, Brad, the athlete, and Cindy, the pretty one.
Can they just be Alice, Brad, and Cindy?
That is enough.
Accept the Unknown
It’s not comfortable and stretches us beyond our everyday existence, but in life, there are few certainties. There will be times when life will change, and it’s out of our control. Instead of feeling that as the adult you must have all the answers, give all directions and maintain control, join in asking the questions, finding answers, and continuing to grow.
Life is an amazing adventure that unfolds one day at a time. It wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if we knew at every turn what lies ahead.
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