Our Control May Be the Problem

It’s time to really rethink our education system and style. Why is it that we have revamped everything we do since the 1700’s except for the way we teach our young? Consistently, evidence-based research points out that our education system and pedagogy are far from optimal. Of course, any school system is far from perfect, but have you ever wondered what the school system really prepares our children for?

Peter Gray, Ph.D., research professor at Boston College and author of Free to Learn, explains that what we need is to give our children just a little bit of control back. School is not going to grant them autonomy and if we as parents don’t grant them a little freedom to have personal choice, they will grow up with anxiety and depression. As parents, we need to allow for our children to learn how to make decisions and stand on their own.

Children need to feel a sense of reasonable control over their lives. It is no wonder that there has been an eight-fold increase in reported cases of depression and anxiety than 50 years ago. Dr. Gray states that “the changes seem to have much more to do with the way young people view the world than with the way the world actually is.” Young people are ceasing to believe that they have any control over their lives.

It’s time to stop contributing to the anxiety our children endure. It’s time to stop forcing one style of education on children, whose learning styles are as unique as snowflakes and who require individualized education—not a cookie-cutter plan. Our children are the future and we are not even giving them a fair chance to prepare for what responsibilities lie ahead.

It’s time we stop being so harsh on the children that don’t fit in to the square cookie cutter shape like other children. Those are the kids that fall behind and eventually fall into deep depression because of consistent “under-performing”. Perhaps if we took a second to question why that child is under-performing instead of immediately settling for “My child is just not smart” or “This child must have a neurobiological disorder.”

The consistent pressure on children is what changed the focus for them from valuing things like having a good life philosophy to valuing what will gain them the most rewards or financial stability. Kids are growing up valuing material things instead of learning how to regulate their own emotions.

By allowing this system to remain, we become the reason that our children will grow up: compliant, anxious, depressed, and scared to try anything different. Fear is what our current education system breeds. Presently children do not have freedom to learn on their own, no opportunity to nurture their personal interests, and no time for the exploration of their desires. Can we really expect anything different?

We have another choice; we do not have to feel powerless and submit to current structures that have been put in place. There is another way. As Dr. Gray concludes, “we don’t need to drive kids crazy to educate them. Given freedom and opportunity, without coercion, young people educate themselves. They do so joyfully, and in the process develop intrinsic values, personal self-control, and emotional wellbeing.”


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