Do we have a clue about what our kids wanna do?
Well, to be honest, just like everybody else we also felt that we knew what was best for our daughter, Aarohi. This was, of course, the wrong approach and we are glad that this misconception got cleared out long before we might have ended up doing some real damage to her. We often get called out on our decision to homeschooling Aarohi versus claiming that we want her to grow up to be a free thinking individual, as hypocritical. On one hand, we want her to take her own decisions and on the other, we are taking the decision to homeschool her, for her. Unfortunately, there is no way around this. She was too young to choose between homeschooling and conventional schooling. Based on her parent’s personal experience with schooling, our general inclination towards spending more time with her and the ambition to teach her ourselves rather than handing her over to others, this decision was taken for her. We do want to keep our kids away from unhealthy competition, the stress of exams and unrealistic parental expectations. But we are open to the idea that someday she might come up to us and ask us to enroll her into conventional schooling. If she does, we will do the needful.
One of the reasons we think like this and encourage her to choose what she does or does not do is because we want her to live a life which is a result of her own choices, good or bad. We will always support whatever she chooses to do in life and help her realize her own ambitions, wherever she needs us to. But it is very important to make sure that it is her own choice that dictates what she does in life. This is made clearer in this TEDx talk (x = independently organized TED event) by a 13-year-old boy Logan Laplante who was taken out of the education system to be home-schooled instead. Logan addresses one the most stereotypical questions that all kids face – What do you wanna be when you grow up? People who ask such a question usually expect an intellectual answer from the kids which is unfortunate because all kids want to do is have fun. They want to play with their friends, read comics, watch Television, go to the beach or some such thing. These are carefree days for them. They don’t want to sit around worrying about what they want to do tomorrow, let alone in the future. So, the answer would ideally be a Cricketer or Footballer or Gamer etc. Kids would want to grow up and do something that interests them. But then we as parents brainwash them into thinking that they should aspire to be a Pilot or Engineer or Doctor or maybe a Scientist.
But sometimes some kids give the best answer – “When I grow up I wanna be Happy…!!!”
This is a revelation in itself. We as adults expect so many things from our children and in the process forget to find out what is it that our kids actually want to do. Wanting to be happy is not such a bad thing. Why can’t we let them do things that make them happy? Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about leaving kids without parental supervision. Instead, encourage and accompany them in doing what makes them happy. Logan makes a point that even though the pre-frontal Cortex in kids is underdeveloped, they actually have more Neurons than adults, which is why they are so much more creative along with being impulsive and moody. We as parents should support our kid’s creativity and encourage them to pursue a lifestyle doing things that make them happy. It is a huge failure in part of the parents to take it for granted that the kids will automatically be happy and healthy. One of the biggest parental pitfalls is to assume that if our kids just follow the norm and go to school like everybody else, go to college, get a job and get married, then automatically they will be happy.
Even though the pre-frontal Cortex in kids is underdeveloped, they actually have more Neurons than adults.
Once he’s made a point of what we as parents are doing wrong with our kids, Logan goes on to quote Dr. Roger Walsh, a professor of psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology, as well as a professor in the religious studies program at the University of California at Irvine. He lists his 8 TLCs (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) of being Happy and Healthy. Although we don’t agree with all his points but some of them make very good sense. It came as no surprise to us that one of Logan’s parent’s influences came for Sir Ken Robinson‘s 2006 TEDTalk – Do Schools Kill Creativity? Sir Ken’s talk was also very influential in our decision to homeschool Aarohi, as explored in our earlier article – What Inspired Our Schooling – Sir Ken Robinson. Even though these are very revolutionary ideas, from experience, we can tell you, just like Logan’s parents, it was no easy task for us. But just like them once it became very clear to us what would make our daughter happy, there was no other alternative for us, even though what we are doing is literally called ‘Alternative Education’…!!!
Logan goes on to talk about his own aspirations and ambitions in life and how his parents are facilitating it for their kids. It’s a very inspiring story and will surely make a lot of people cry. So go ahead, give it a listen and enjoy: