Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Innovation Doesn't Come in a Box

I had a conversation with a friend a while back. I admit I was griping a bit. Beastie 1 is taking some classes -- yes, we homeschool, but homeschoolers often take "real" classes -- and I was bemoaning the amount of time we had to spend on vocabulary words for two of the classes he's in. He had to look them up, write the definition, write a sentence for each, all placed under the correct tab, with the vocab word underlined. Pretty typical of schoolwork, I know. Something we all had to do in school.

But that was kinda my point. I homeschool my kids so they don't have to do busy work. YES, we drill and practice skills. Of course. Please don't go there. I promise you, I hear a LOT of, "Mooooo-ooom, do I have to?"

But I know my kids, and what their strengths are, and what is actually building their skills and what is making them run in place.

Back to the conversation. My friend commented that the vocab work teaches organization. Yes, I can see that. Although, we could accomplish the same by doing only the ten or twelve words Beastie 1 doesn't know, vs. fifty or sixty he already knows.

Then my friend said something that, frankly, made me change the subject. Because I like my friend, but highly disagree.

"Someday, he's going to get a job where he's going to have to do reports and things he considers pointless. He needs to know how to deal with that now."

Um, yes. He likely will. But really? Now, at the age of twelve he needs to experience what it's like to do pointless paperwork? That's time right now, folks. Time, which once used is gone forever. Time that could have been spent working on other skills--complex skills, things that aren't busy work.

It finally really hit me today what truly bothered me about that statement. I watched a video (which I will paste below) and this is what struck me: It's a "chicken or the egg" issue.

Do kids need to be taught how to do busywork because they will someday be faced with it in the workplace? Or will they someday be faced with it in the workplace because schools drill it into kids that it's a necessary evil? Are all those executives and whoever coming up with reports and assessments and such because our school systems teach that standardized tests and percentiles are the real markers for success?

Honestly, I'm not going to try and answer that question. I'm just throwing this all out there as food for thought. Also, don't take this as me saying the public school system in it entirety is junk. I'm not trying to turn this into a "homeschool or public school?" debate or saying you're an awful parent for not homeschooling.

What I am saying is this: Things sometimes are the way they are only because we've been taught to have them that way. And questioning the status quo is generally the first step in innovation.

So, here's the awesome video that inspired this post:

And might as well throw this one in too:



Kessie said...

I wasn't sure what to think of this argument, so I asked my husband. He said, "Why does everyone always think that every job will be a boring desk job?"

Still watching the videos. Maggie is a hoot.

Kat Heckenbach said...

When I was in school, I had no idea the kinds of jobs out there. Doctor, lawyer, policeman, fireman, teacher, astronaut...and desk jobs. The thing is, school gives you that mindset, I think.

Yes, Maggie is a riot. I follow her blog for that very reason.