Sometimes I wonder about the type of education my kids one day will receive as they matriculate into “formal” schooling over the next few years. I found myself doing so again this lazy, post July 4th as I sat out on my back patio watching my daughters create their own game in the yard, with imagine this: their imagination. So underrated these days…we probably need a standardized assessment to make it seem more important huh? But I digress… I’ve been reading this interesting book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative by Sir Ken Robinson and it’s really fascinating. If you don’t have the time to read the book, check out the Ted Talk: How Schools Kill Creativity which gives a great synopsis. Basically, I’m concerned that all schools will prepare my kids (and yours) for is the idea that life is a multiple choice test (which it isn’t’) and when they’re unable to find the answers (because they haven’t been given one), what will they do?
Spoiler alert, neither Sir Ken nor myself are bullish on the American (or even most other industrialized countries) prospects for education. Reading this book has made me think back to my undergraduate experience, where I was fortunate enough to get what I believe was a truly remarkable learning opportunity. Kenneth Cole (clothing magnet), an alum and then trustee of Emory, partnered with the university to form a new fellowship program called the Community Building and Social Change program.
I remember this program vividly because for the first time in my educational experience, as a sophomore in undergrad, not only was I given the opportunity to explore my passions, but it was also a chance to put some of those critical thinking, public speaking, consensus building, and theoretical skill sets to work in a practical manner. Too few students are given the opportunity to marry their interests with real world problems, and in the process have an impact. In the process, I learned how to collaborate, how to solve real world problems, and how to communicate effectively both written and orally. I also started to develop policy chops. The most important aspect of this experience for me was the fact that it nurtured my desire for continuing exploration of the world of nonprofits and social change.
Today in my current work I get to leverage these skills I began honing as a 19 year old in undergrad. Which brings me back to my point: how can I ensure that my daughters receive these types of life changing, truly educational opportunities sooner rather than later? It’s a quest I’m on as a parent because I know our educational system certainly isn’t set up to provide these types of opportunities on a regular basis. Imagine, learning who you are, what you care about, and practical skills such as problem solving, communication, collaboration, and innovation in a classroom setting, all while contributing to something meaningful that makes an impact. Forget reforming education in America…we need to start re-imagining the whole system.