I was tucked into bed last night, watching an episode of My Little Pony as I have want to do. In this thrilling tale, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle are trying to get their Cutie Marks. They appear when a Pony finds his or her own special talent. They try out all sorts of thing such as farming, sewing, dancing and comedy. They don’t have much success along the way, mostly because they are kids and kids don’t have much expertise. I won’t ruin show, you will just have to watch it for yourself.
The underlying concept and lesson that the show is trying to impress upon little kids is that you need to go out into the world and try out may different things to find out what you love and what you are good at. Makes perfect sense to me; you could be the worlds best watch maker but if you never even know there is such a job you will never try it. But when does a child in North America have this opportunity?
It’s not in K-12, that’s for sure. You are expected to be in lock-step with all the other kids. Show some creativity? That’s an F. Try and be original? Not in the marking scheme. Read ahead? Being a smart ass. Experience is created by failure. It’s just as important to know what you don’t like as what you like. Poor grades are not the sign of poor intelligence, they just mean you haven’t found your passion yet. Mr. Watson said that, I think he knows what he’s talking about.
So where does it happen? At what point do we let our children experience life without consequences? Where do they go to see new things? How do they meet people outside of their social circle? The answer is simply that they don’t. The very existence of General Studies proves that there are people in this world who, after 18 years, have not been shown enough of the world to find what they enjoy doing in life. In our technological world, this is a failing of epic proportions. I mean… .. words fail me.
The government cries that we need more skilled workers and better innovation but High Schools are closing mechanics class in favor of ballet studios because parents don’t want their kids being grease monkeys. Play dates, league sports and summer camp are no substitute for actually learning about yourself. We need to re-evaluate what is means to fail and learn from it rather that be scared of it. In the Baby Boomers great rush to achieve the “American Dream” they created a situation that leaves the world worse off than before. Now is the time to let imagination and creativity run free, instead we are scheduling every last second of our day. Every little action is recorded online forever. Every purchase affects our credit rating. Our lives are lock-step and any attempt to be yourself is punished.