Children living in coastal villages learn from an early age how to read the weather, the daily times of the rising and setting sun, the prediction of an impending storm, and the skills to set up a successful catch in the sea. Children growing up in the North Pole, where life is in constant cold, learn essential skills in keeping warm, making their own fur clothes from animals that their parents have hunted, and learning how to trap animals for food. Children living in the thick tropical jungles learn to respect Mother Nature because she is their main giver of life and energy. They learn about medicinal plants and poisonous fungi and the creatures that co-exist with them in the jungles. They learn to trust their instincts that will essentially be their guiding light in the deep dark jungle.
The education of these children living in life-giving natural surroundings also involve survival skills when faced with the other side of nature – the wrath of nature’s life-taking powers. They learn that life can be as unpredictable as the weather, and the best chances of survival depend on their knowledge and skills of their immediate environment, and their innate instinct. Doing intricate math is not one of them!
So what should the education of children living in the cities entail? Living in the concrete jungles of towering skyscrapers and undulating highways and bullet-speed electric trains, knowledge of the ice, sea and the wild seem like a very remote distance from their daily experience of high speed broadband and entertaining online games. Urban kids grow up in artificial environments with pre-programmed schedules and automated machines. To learn stuff, they have to go to a place called “school” because their parents have to work in a place called the “office”. The only survival skills these kids need is to learn how not to be picked on by school bullies and how not to get into trouble with their parents and teachers.
And oh yes, it is of utmost importance that they do their math. No one really knows why, but that is expected of every child growing up in the city. And to show that they have mastered their learned skills, (no, they do not bring home their daily catch from the deep blue sea or the icy cold arctic waters or the richly-endowed rainforests!), kids here bring home something called “the report card”. This important piece of paper reports to the parents how well (or how badly) the child has performed in the school exam, which is a compulsory component of school learning in order to get a much sought-after place in a college – which is essentially a school for older kids.
And at college, they go through more or less the same kind of regimented learning and testing so that they get another piece of paper to show that they are now eligible for employment. And throughout this long and arduous process of getting an “education”, these clever kids will probably not be able to do their dishes or make their own beds or cook a decent meal because these are not considered essential knowledge or skills for urban kids. These are well taken care by their doting parents or grandparents or more commonly, something indispensable in every modern household: the foreign maid. So, all a kid needs to do everyday is to go to school, do homework, study for exam, and the most important thing: bring home a string of A’s! Everything else will be well taken care of by the maid.
“So, why is it so important to get an education?” A kid from the sea village may ask.
“Well,” a city kid may answer, “ You see all the amazing stuff we have? We need MONEY to buy them. And to get money, like how our parents do, we need to get a JOB. And no one will give us a job if we don’t have the PAPER! Get it?”
“So why do you need all these stuff anyway?” an Eskimo kid may wonder.
“What? Where do you come from? The North Pole! Of course we NEED all these stuff to be HAPPY! Duh!”
“And how does having all these stuff make you happy?” an indigenous kid may ask.
“Why I’ll be really BORED if I don’t have them! And I don’t want to be a failure in the eyes of my parents. They want me to be more successful than them. So I also need to make them happy!” The city kid may confess.
“You don’t realize how much pressure we kids are under! Sometimes I feel like escaping into your world to escape the pressure. But we only get to do that during our school breaks.” The city kid laments.
So, what kind of education should you give your kids? What kind of people do you want them to be? How are they going to seek their own happiness? What kind of future are they going to chart for themselves? What kind of world are they going to immerse themselves in?
What you do NOW will affect their future. How you do it will shape how they respond to the world. Whatever and however you do it, please, do it with great consideration for your child’s HAPPINESS. Yes. It is an important consideration that most parents would prefer to overlook for the more important things in life, like success – which comes at a cost, if we are not careful.
There is a lot more to education than what most parents care to see. So please look at it in a bigger perspective because the world is big enough for different people with unique talents to shine in.
So give your child that chance – a chance to shine in his or her true talents!