I often wonder why children get punished, chastised and corrected for behaviors that adults would get applauded, commended, and praised for. We want kids to be self-confident, independent, and empowered. However, they are scolded for arguing with an adult because it is looked upon as being disrespectful. They aren't trusted to make decisions for themselves as far as when to wake up, when to eat, when to go to sleep. They are told when and how to do all of these things, which makes them dependent, not independent. When they try to make these decisions for themselves they get grounded or have things they love taken away from them. I certainly don't think this is teaching them to become independent. It teaches them to learn to be sneakier next time they want to stay up later, or stay out later, or eat that extra dessert that they really wanted. When an adult stands up for what they believe in, they are looked upon as being strong, or intelligent, or someone who really knows who they are.
We want our kids to be able to think for themselves, but they are expected to go along with what the teacher tells them to do. Follow the assignment, even if you have an idea that you think might work better. We want them to be able to stand up for themselves, yet if they do this in school, they are labeled as the troublemaker by teachers, or worse yet, they are labeled as weird by their peers. Most kids will do anything not to call attention to themselves in school. They want to blend in, wear the same kind of clothes that the other kids do, have the same things the other kids do. It is very difficult to get them to see that they can be who they are, when all they want is to be like the other kids. What happens to their self esteem? They learn to act cool, even if they are hurting inside. Would they be rewarded in a job for being like everyone else? I doubt it. They would be more likely to be rewarded for coming up with the idea that makes the company stand out.
So, what strengths do we wish for our children? Is putting them in classrooms with same age peers everyday for at least 13 years (or more including college), the way to help them develop the strengths that we wish for them? I don't know about you, but I want my kids to be physically healthy, happy, full of love, emotionally healthy, empowered, confident and full of passion.
I know that it took me 30 some years before I started questioning everything about all of the systems that are in place in our world. Are these systems really working in the best interests of our children? I don't think so! We are trying to train our children to be a certain way - the way the "experts" deem valuable or acceptable. So what is happening to all of these kids that are following along just to fit in, terrified of being different? At the end of their school career, they are deemed "passing" or "successful". Successful at what? Successful at learning how to take a test, being able to follow the rules, or successful at being the polite, follow the directions kid? So many of the ones that go off to college go crazy, drinking and doing dangerous things, just because they finally have the freedom to decide some things for themselves. This college behavior is looked upon as normal, but is it really? Would people really need to do this if they have already been living an authentic life? Then there are the students who have been labeled AP, and who have been told how smart they are. Who are they under all of that? Who are they without the labels? What happens when they no longer have the grading system to define them? What happens when their passion is something that isn’t recognized as being something you do when you are brilliant? Will they have the courage to do it anyway?
What happens after all of those years of being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and when it is complete. When exactly do they learn who they are, what makes them come alive, what is important to them, what their body is telling them and how to follow their own hearts? Don't we want our world to be filled with people who are passionate about what they do, passionate about life, people who are passionate about just being alive? Why make them wait 30 years before learning these things? I hope that parents will help their children feel all of these things by standing up for the rights of their children. Let’s not just go along with what we have been doing for years and years. Let’s question the system that is broken! Give the children a voice in what they need, let them know that it is their birthright to live their own life. Show them that finding out what makes them feel alive is important to you and to the world! Unschooling gives them the freedom to learn what makes them feel alive with passion.
I write about my own personal growth and healing, some about unschooling, mindful living, depression and more at www.benurtured.com. I hope you will stop by and say hello!