Bear with me a moment as I propose a situation. A father asks his son “Son, what do you want to be when you grow up?” He replies bashfully “Well, I don’t know.” “Come on son, think about it,” the father says. The little boy opens his mouth to speak and his father says, “The skies the limit son.” The boy smiles, “like you dad.” Beautiful, isn’t it? Well, little did the father know was that his son had dreams of reaching beyond the sky. He wanted to be an astronaut and despite the father’s good intentions, his conventional education has caused him to be blindly limiting himself, and his sons aspirations.
Though my hypothetical proposal may be a bit over thought for adults, look at it through the lenses of a child’s eyes. You can go on for hours on a debate on the problems within the public school system, but for now let’s stay focused on the limiting factors that come with sitting at a desk every day. Conventional school curriculum are severely over structured. The public school system known in America was once partially a response to the influx of new immigrants and used to establish a sort of order in mainstream culture. Though it was looked at as a devise to make more well-informed voters and citizens, it as well established a strict cookie cutter ideal of what it means to be American, as it systematically stripped new citizens of their cultural and religious education.
Though this construction seemed to work well in a developing country filled with racial and religious tension, this does not apply so well now. In a 2013 TED Talk 13 year old Logan LaPlante addresses this issue in his speech about how he “high-jacked” his education. At the age of nine LaPlante was removed from the school system and began homeschooling. By high-jacking LaPlante refers to molding his education to fit hit needs by reworking the system. With this he was given a wealth of new opportunities. He takes advantage to his family and friends to get the most out of his education. For instance he developed a love for writing through a program started by one of his friend’s parents, where he was able to express his interest through writing instead of adhering to a grade school writing prompt. LaPlante will look for ways to learn from others, be it job shadowing or volunteering in his community. His education is not tied down to a strict curriculum but a creative, opportunistic approach. If you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up he won’t tell you about a wishful career, but he will always answer the same, “I want to be happy.”
Through his homeschooling he is able to learn about his passions and have an active part of his education. LaPlante explains how a large fault in the public school system is that the schools do not teach kids how to be happy. They teach them one strategy of how to get a degree to find a job, to have money, but happiness? No. We can take a lesson from this young man. For the betterment of the future world leaders, doctors, activists, and even astronauts! He proposes that we should base the education system on the practice of being happy and healthy, and allow the curriculum to be led by that simple premise. To find this happiness we need to change our mindset, to stop trying to make a living, and start making a life.
Though not everyone has the means or time to dedicate to their children’s education in the same way as LaPlante’s family parental education can have a huge impact on a child’s life. Education does not end in the classroom, but expands into everyday life as we learn to respond to the world around us. Many children do not see the practical application of their classes they take in school. As a response to this the conventional school system must find a way to make children interested in their own education. Internships, job shadowing, and field trips at a young age can help tremendously, and not just for college bound students, but young children especially. Let’s not limit ourselves, not even to the sky, because the stars cannot be reached any other way.
Check out Logan’s TED Talk at