This is a guest post from parent and author, Michelle Bross of My Child’s Gardener.
A friend and fellow gardener contemplates, “I know education is a priority, but at what price?” Here’s my response, in all its candor and honesty. This one is a little longer than usual because the message is BIG.
“I don’t know what the future holds, and I know who holds the future.”
I trust that my children’s education is an investment in the future. I trust they are receiving more than an education – like courage, compassion, and connection. And most importantly, they are learning how to think, not what to think. These attributes are priceless, and I cannot put a price tag on them.
- I want my children to be creators, not responders – to know they create their life, not just respond to circumstances.
- I want my children to learn for the love of learning, not out of the fear-based learning of comparing, competing, conforming, perfecting, performing, and pleasing.
- I want my children to be risk-takers and opportunity makers, and not afraid of failure. I want my children to love what they do and do what they love.
- I want my children to lead a life of love, follow their purpose, and trust it’s a life of plenty.
These values have led us to the Montessori Method of education. For my family, it is a holistic lifestyle to have our education values aligned with our family values. My children receive a congruent message. With these beliefs, I choose not to have my children impressioned with a standardized day, a standardized curriculum, and standardized results. I don’t want a standard life for my children.
Traditional education teaches to the lowest common denominator and a minimum standard of living. Public or private, traditional education teaches to the answer and grades everyone from the same scorecard. It emphasizes the answer, not the process. It squelches creativity and authenticity. It produces responders, not creators, of life. This is a fine education, and I want something more for my children.
I don’t know about yours, but all three of my children are unique. They have different strengths, weaknesses, interests, and talents. I cannot imagine using the same lesson to engage them or the same scorecard to judge them.
Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, offers exquisite examples of how the traditional education robs the entrepreneurial spirit and creates left-brain dominance for a right-brain future. For me and my family, we have decided that an investment in primary school is the new MBA. This is when character and the love of learning is embodied. This is when the entrepreneurial seeds of life are planted. This is where we choose to invest for the future and trust the dividends will grow into Life Entrepreneurs of their own account.
It seems counter-intuitive to save for college and skip this investment opportunity in our young children, when their minds and lives are most formidable. Saving for college in today’s economy is like hording a seed, hoping it won’t dry out for future planting. Or hiding a golden goose, hoping it won’t grow old before laying its golden egg.
How Business School Killed the Entrepreneur is another great myth-buster. The author attributes the skyrocket enrollment in business school to the commonplace of status quo. Thus business school has become the hold-over while one figures out what she wants. The truth is, if you don’t know what you want from life, business school isn’t going to give you the answer. You still have to find it for yourself.
I am wagering on the primary years to show my children what they want. I don’t want a standard life, so why choose a standard education and think it will produce different results. To learn to live and love whole-heartedly, I don’t know a better beginning than to invest in the primary years.
Dare to compare any business school book with The 7 Children’s Book MBA. The life lessons of business are in the message of our favorite childhood books. We really did learn everything we need to know in the primary years: respect, simplicity, service, compassion, intuition, perseverance, giving, perspective, and leadership. And then, we forgot to water the seeds and left them for ruin.
To grow Life Entrepreneurs, we must first plant the seeds and feed love. Planting of the seeds is the first essential step for the reaping. We can’t plant conformity and expect creativity. We can’t plant fear and expect love.
Maria Montessori built the 3-year curriculum around real life – sometimes we lead; sometimes we follow. The uninterrupted work period allows every child to be an expert in their chosen field of interest. I hear criticisms about “how do I know the bases have been covered?” The bases aren’t what I am concerned with; that’s fear talk. I know my children will learn to read and write. I want the “and then some,” the more of life.
The fact that my 8-year created a to-scale clay model of a girl and an elephant because she was curious how she stood in comparison to an elephant is beautiful. The fact that she wrote a research paper on the Greek gods of mythology because that is of interest to her and her dad, may have nothing to do with a specific lesson and yet everything to do with loving what you do and doing what you love. I attribute my 6-year old’s beautiful cursive writing to the fact that she gets to choose what words and stories she writes. She tirelessly writes names and breeds of horses. She sounds out Appaloosa and Arabian, and somewhere in there learned to spell cat and dog.
The connection I have made for me and my children is that the Montessori Method of education is creating Life Entrepreneurs. Why wait for college to allow them to choose what they want. Now is when they know. After years of being told what to do, it is hard to remember what we love to do.
Traditional education reinforces not exploring, not pushing the limits, not poking the box. Seth Godin’s latest book, Poke the Box, is a call to action to get out of the box and start something. He points out, in embarrassingly candid humor, the absurdity of the box of false security we place around our self, and I am extrapolating – around our children.
Not poking means not being judged, or compared, or wrong, in a system that rewards and praises sameness, compliance, and conformity. Your fear keeps you in the imaginary box of ordinary and certainty.
Poking the box is a learned behavior. The earlier it is learned, the greater the rewards. When it is learned early in life, it is second nature and a way of approaching life. Fostering creativity and allowing children to practice their interest is the means to an authentic life of influence and purpose. I have written several articles on the development of our young entrepreneurs:
The question is not how much will this cost? The real question is “How much will it cost NOT to invest in primary education, to miss this opportunity?” Waiting to invest until the college years is like being late for the party. It eliminates choices and allows you to just show up and respond to what others have started. It is a victim’s way to artificially play it safe. Well, there is no safe way and the only time is now.
My husband said, as he was departing from a seemingly cush job to take a chance with a start-up company, “I could ‘what if’ myself to partner.” Not to mention, that seemingly safe job has since been debunked, the start-up company is making a go of it, and my husband is still blazing new trails.
Why invest 13+ years in fear-based education, if you want your children to lead a life of love? You know how hard it is to change the subconscious embedded life-long patterns. Living to your fullest is not about waiting to be told what to do, what to think, or how to be. I want my children to live and love to their fullest, that’s why I am investing now.
As a mother of three beautifully unique and aspiring Life Entrepreneurs, I have made a conscious choice of non-traditional education. I have heard many parents say this just isn’t for them. That may be true. And, I have never known a child who it isn’t for.
Cultivating a love of learning and adventure,
Life Entrepreneur and mother of 3 children – ages 4, 6, and 8 – attending OakHaven Montessori School.