Setting Kids Up to Fail

The nature of work is changing--we all know that.  You're required to be a lot more entrepreneurial, which requires you to build your own networks in order to get customers and collaborators, since these functions won't be under the roof of a big company anymore.

You'll need to be more mobile, nimble, and able to go where the work is.  You'll need to think globally.  

You will need to be a continuous learner, willing to pick up new skills as the world changes around you--meaning that your sources of education won't necessarily be accredited academic institutions.  

This is all pretty obvious, and has been for a while, right?

So how does this respond to how we seem to be teaching our kids?

Well, for starters, each generation seems to be facing a shrinking, not growing world.  Below is a graphic from a DailyMail article that shows how far kids in a family were allowed to roam as eight year olds.


From the DailyMail

Could you imagine letting an eight year old roam eight miles away these days?  You'd probably get arrested for child neglect.  However, how prepared was that kid for the rest of life after making those trips, compared to kids today that rarely ever leave the house on their own?  How prepared are kids today to face a global world when they can't walk off of their own block.

How likely are they to become lifelong learners when we've never had more emphasis on standardized testing, and therefore standardized learning?  The school we create for kids now makes them want to be done with school as soon as possible.  

It's like when people ask me how to get into venture capital.  They're always asking about the right way to do it, how to get an interview--all these very structured ways of approaching a system.  When I tell them stuff about adding value to the community, creating a personal brand, etc., it just doesn't compute.  Nothing that I ever did to get where I am in venture was difficult or special--but none of it was anything you really learn in a classroom.  

The world we're heading into requires a highly visible, highly network, flexible risk taker with a global perspective.  Yet, it feels like the US is churning out kids who never venture outside of their suburban housing development on their own who look for authoritative structures to fit themselves into and are taught to fear strangers, domestic and abroad.

Fail.  

Hopefully, companies like Tinkergarten and Tinybop can help expand kids' natural curiousity for the world around them.