I’ve been a bit (more than usual) ragey against the machine lately. The machine that is the school system(s) and society and the world in general that we live in.
My 7-year old’s teachers say that some parents have asked for more homework for their kids. I burst out laughing and say “No, thanks, not needed for us.” Thankfully the teachers agree and smile with me.
My 10-year old has a large number of classmates who have been tutored for years and who are visibly tired and stressed and really mean to others.
What are parents* doing to the kids these days? Seriously. Why can’t we just let them be?
“But the world is a competitive place these days.”
“But everyone else is being tutored so only those kids have a chance of getting into good schools.”
“But they need to learn that they have to work hard to get anywhere in life.”
But they are children.
They need to swim at their own pace and just enjoy the flow and scenery. Sometimes they need to just float and stare at the sun and not be rushed and pushed and graded and evaluated.
I keep telling my kids that they do have to try their best at school and be organised and pay attention, BUT that in the end it’s not their grades that matter in life – it’s the fact that they are NICE people that matters.
Manners, empathy, awareness of others around you, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, respecting that and finding it wonderful is what matters.
I want my boys to have self-confidence but not be macho alpha males who don’t think they ever do anything wrong or are the best in everything – academics or sports or whatever.
The world really does not need more alpha males who only care about grades, diplomas, certificates, scores, whom you know, how much stuff you have, etc. etc. etc.
The world needs creative, imaginative, happy, confident and empathic people.
Sometimes it seems utterly impossible to raise children like that in London. It’s a rat-race here from the get-go (i.e. out of the womb), but even though everyone around me seems to be screaming “they need to try harder / study more / get more awards / be more alpha”, I will try my hardest to let them go with their own flow. With guidance, some discipline (*some* is always needed), a lot of love and quite a bit of freedom, I truly believe they could be the creatives that run the world one day.
Let’s see if the machine wins in the end or if the future does belong to those who can think outside the box, who will keep some of their childhood imagination (the more the better, but how rare is that in adults these days!) and who are happy to swim at their own pace and don’t feel like they have to constantly sprint for one medal after another to hang up in their trophy cabinet for the world to see.
*Note that I’m talking about parents putting extra pressure on the kids. Schoolwork should be enough for kids and schoolwork for my kids of manageable and enjoyable. It’s all the extracurricular activities and competitions and extra work that parents put their kids through that’s driving me bonkers. It’s not unheard of in private schools that parents ask the teachers to test their kids more :|