Sit Still or Go Sailing? by childgrower A. Woz.

cobicrossedfeetA few weeks ago a major story in the news was whether or not to allow 14 year old girl to sail solo around the world. The authorities were concerned for her safety, parental responsibility was questioned, and a court order delayed the trip while the legalities were sorted out.

Should a young person be sailing the ocean, alone,  if this is what she believes she can do?

This young girl thought she should, and so she did. Update: May 16, 2010.

UPDATE: 2 Years later,  now 16, young sailor completes voyage around the globe- solo.  January 21, 2012.–maarten-teen-solo-voyage/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED presentation about how children learn and how success in school is defined,  includes a warning about the processes followed for typical schools teaching largely to the math and language disciplines and relegating the arts and physical movement to last on the priorities list.

Can classroom instruction prepare a child to sail solo around the world?

Perhaps the bigger question should be asked-  how much classroom instruction is required to inspire a child to want to sail around the world?

Yesterday’s sailors, bridge builders, explorers, entrepreneurs, the self-made success stories of our nation, did not sit still in a classroom. Yes, they had instruction. Some had money and some had none.

Some shadowed actors to learn languages, some came from other countries and apprenticed with master carpenters and studied ancient trades.

Some consulted with poets and philosophers and imagined new endings based on the inspiration of authors and teachers and built on top of  those basics,  true.

But those who rose to the challenge, to a duty, to the necessity of surviving, applied what was learned in books,  then added their own ideas and took advantage of an opportunity,  turned a profit,  then earned an income and provided for their families-  all great things achieved, despite facing language barriers,  disparate poverty levels and uncontrolled public health risks.

I doubt many of them sat still, and many of them probably didn’t “fit in” either.

Robinson’s conclusion is that formalized education, adopted in the 1900’s as a result of the industrial revolution with the primary focus on preparing workers to succeed in the production of goods to meet demand, will not meet tomorrow’s workplace demands.

Robinson argues that in the future, the future that our kids will master, they will have to succeed in a new arena and worries our educational system requiring kids to sit still, perfecting rote memorization- requiring teaching to a test as a measure of a person’s capabilities-  is unfair to those who are born with talents that lie outside of the factory floor assembly line mentality of current public school systems.

It makes sense.

Take for example the current “greening” of America. Policies and production are now shifted to sustainable local production and creatively recycling what had been invented for another purpose and downsizing reliance on “stuff”, taking advantage of reusing what we already have at our disposal rather than wasting precious resources on what will fill a landfill at the end of it’s present use.

If this is the start of the changes in our economy and the income potential follows this trend, then  tomorrow’s graduates will need to be prepared via a new educational system that relies more on the agility and creativity of the mind to solve problems rather than the mere organizational capabilities necessary to efficiently turn plastic into inanimate objects for sale on a shelf.

What if focusing these minds to fit in with the silent concentrators or medicating their minds by suppressing these alternative styles is backward?

Maybe we should be seeking wasy to release the talents they arrive with onl earth and let them sing out, move about and hope they infect their classmates and teachers with their unusual approach to a uniform world and follow them as they turn the current educational model on its ear.

Our educational system should be growing a mind that values visual and artistic interpretation, requires creativity to forge cooperative national leaders and relies less on force and more on communicating shared histories and finding new  methods to solve new problems.

The future may depend upon a student body that is as emotional as it is resistant to following a schematic, a student mind that is less of a servant to the predictable and defined normalcy and a learning environment free of desks and full of the wind and sails and skills that take them around the world.

Today’s students are tomorrows leaders needing both the skills to launch an organization into an alternative route and the insight to seek solutions bigger than the shrinking world of countries connected so closely by technology.

Tomorrow’s think-tanks will combine the best of all nations cooperating to solve new world-wide issues needing new processes for a host of formerly unimagined problems.

Robinson suggests that math and language are important, if not equal to the artistic and creative side and education should develop both.

It is hard to imagine what the future is going to be like, but requires no great leap to see that every child in the world dances, reacts to music, is touched by the sounds of songs and rhythm, this universal language.

Not every young person falls in love with math and grammar, but find one that can resist dancing to the radio.

It is not difficult to surmise that music, the arts, unbridled curiosity and creativity may be the bridge that crosses an entire planet to become the common ground not just across our country, but across all nations, the common language of music, or art, may be the creativity that opens communication and enable people to respond and unify resources around the globe.

With creativity we create new technologies, new tools and maybe even new languages,  perhaps a language rooted in song or harmonious movement, will be necessary to handle natural disasters, climate adjustments and the ever larger challenge of feeding the hungry, fighting disease, eliminating violence.

Robinson’s lesson is that we don’t need to teach creativity in classrooms, we just need to assign it value in today’s educational model and nurture it, and nurture the children with these talents and abilities.

Will a solid education based in recitation and teaching to a test prepare the next generation?  It is a good foundation that may just need a stint of sailing around the world to perfect it.

Even one semester of college teaches a student that he or she is not the center of the universe and opens the eyes of students to new ways of thinking and new thinking about old ways.

Perhaps texting, technology and social networking are skills that tomorrow’s leaders will rely upon to connect them far beyond their classroom lectures and is a  necessary preparation for running a world that does not have borders defined by cubicles of worker bees with advanced degrees in sitting still.

###by A. Woz. Orignally published November 4th, 2009 on  Childgrower Blog and published in the January 2010 John Rosemond’s Traditional Parenting Newsletter .


One Response

  1. […] need caring grown ups,  in addition to the teacher, to handle behavioral outbursts and learning styles for a variety of diverse student populations and to offer a smile, encouragement and sometimes […]

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