MY KIND OF EDUCATION REFORM
A couple weeks a go, it was Spring Break in Middle Tennessee. Scrolling through my social media feed, I was suddenly inundated with pictures of friends taking their children to Chicago to see Hamilton, to New York to visit the Museum of Natural History, a week at the beach. I must admit most of my friends are of the middle class persuasion though we as a family cling to that classification precariously. Still my own kids went to see their aunt in Chattanooga where they visited the Adventure Science Museum and toured Lookout Mountain. Meanwhile, kids from poorer families spent large chunks of time in their homes whiling away time, waiting for parents who couldn’t afford to take time off from work to get home.
I’m not trying to cast stones at anyone. Parents who continue to invest in the educational experiences, often at great sacrifice, of their children should be commended. And yes, I count going to Walt Disney World as an educational experience. One of the traps that we fall into is thinking that education only falls into a formal category, whereas learning is as natural as breathing to children, and therefore every experience forces their brains to grow and expand. Think of it in computer terms. The larger a database a machine has, the greater likelihood you’ll get a relevant answer when you query a search. Same holds true for kids. The more experiences they have as a kid, the more likely they’ll be able to take advantage of an opportunity in the future. Why is this a hard concept for policymakers to grasp?
Parents intrinsically know this. Why do you think wealthier parents invest so heavily in extracurricular activities despite the high cost? Do you think they harbor illusions of Johnny being a star pitcher in the majors? Or little Jennie becoming a concert pianist at the Met? Well, some do; those are the ones we all snicker at. The rest of us realize the important life lessons that are taught through these extracurricular activities. Lessons like grit, teamwork, leadership, self-confidence all are grown through participation in extracurricular activities. No less an authority than Tony Wagner, co-director of the Change Leadership Group at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education has gone on MY KIND OF EDUCATION REFORM « Dad Gone Wild: