Perhaps some people raised their eyebrows when I suggested in my last post that our American educational system considers curiosity a disease. Well it sure seems like it to me, what with the OVER reliance on standardized tests and the OVER emphasis on fitting everyone into a standardized box.
Just the other day I was at a wedding, talking to an old friend who was a relatively new mother. Her daughter is a bit over a year old. I asked my friend what was her favorite part about being a mom. She didn’t hesitate with her answer.
“I love how much joy she has,” replied my friend. “She gets so excited about the littlest things; anything and everything around her. When she hears a dog bark, her ears perk up, her eyes get wide, and she wants to investigate. It’s really inspiring.
“I meet with a group of other moms I used to work with,” she continued. “And I asked them when kids start to lose that delight in the little things. They all agreed that it was about the time they enter school.”
I’ve recently watched a handful of videos about the guys who created Threadless.com. (Thanks, Don the Idea Guy!) They gave a presentation at Stanford University about the secrets behind their success (they sell millions of dollars of t-shirts every year and have only bought one ad. Ever. After which they decided to never buy another one again.) After the speech, a few business students approached them to share their disbelief. “All of the things you said you’ve done to build your business,” said the bewildered students of a very prestigious business school, “are the very things our professors have said will never work.”
Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Threadless.com guys were college drop-outs?
[tags]educational system, curiosity, standardized tests, Threadless.com, business school, business success[/tags]
Your post reminds me of Robert Kiyosaki’s book “If You Want To Be Rich and Happy, Don’t Go To School.” In business and in life, working together is called collaboration and it’s CRITICAL to success of any kind. In school it’s called cheating.
Ha! Good point there, Steve. I’ll have to check out that book; it sounds interesting.
I think I disagree that kids lose their curiosity at school. It certainly depends on the child. My 1st grader is extremely curious about everything. In fact, the more he learns and reads, the more questions he asks He is a dreamer and lets his imagination take him away. Alot has to do with reading to him at home early on…..
Tony D. Clark says
We’re very fortunate that our daughters go to a very forward thinking charter school. It was founded by a mom with a stellar background in education and consulting and focuses on the work of Dr. Ernest Boyer’s Carnegie Foundation “The Basic School” report.
It’s an amazing place. I wish I’d had a school like that when I was a kid.
Karen — I certainly don’t think that curiosity is snuffed out the minute a child walks into a school. As much as I distrust the institution of education, I still believe in the power of good and imaginative teachers. And ultimately, nothing compares to the influence a parent has on a child, and the fact that you value the importance of reading to yours says a lot.
Tony — I wish all kids had access to schools like that. I wonder if the school voucher idea would encourage the development of more schools like that and give people more access to them. Too bad the idea has never really gotten off the ground.
“the power of good and imaginative teachers”. Oh, so true. Their general attitude is so important. When we attended the first parent teacher conference of the year for our then-fourth grader, the teacher said, “You know, I was warned about Jacob.” Excuse me?? She went on to tell us how the third grade teacher had given her a heads up about Jake (and how he didn’t fit into her mold). “But”, said the fourth grade teacher, “I think he’s a delightful child! So creative! I love all his stories!” Needless to say, fourth grade was way more successful for him than third grade, all because the teacher was willing to let him shine. This same child is now, at age 21, putting in an offer on a house today. So he can be construed as successful at a young age (and a college drop-out, oh my!) And I don’t have to tell you, Jason, the older son turned out to not need college at all ;)
Marilyn’s note reminds me of one of the customers at my previous tech support job. He was notorious for calling about anything and everything, and people dreaded getting him on the phone. I think a lot of agents found out it was him and heeded the warnings too much, not giving him the respect he deserved. Also, he had an Indian name and accent, and I think some people had trouble helping him because they had trouble understanding him. Personally, I loved getting him on the phone. One time he called with a question that had a fairly simple solution. I explained how to do what he wanted to do, and he was surprised how easy it was. With childlike enthusiasm, he said, “That’s beautiful!”
Anyway, I know that isn’t quite the same as children in school, but Marilyn’s note reminded me. We were basically a kind of teacher, and the customers, when they called, were basically students.