Experiences Instead of Academia?

I ran into this video the other day, and it brought to mind a few questions – especially since I had just finished reading the Ken Robinson book Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative. Watch it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.



The interesting thing about this video, to me, is that Stephen Tonti states that those with ADHD have a difference in cognition. I am not arguing that this is or is not the case. I think that he is probably correct, since he has been living with ADHD all of his life. But he talks about how being able to experience many different things in his life enabled him to find out at a younger age than most what he really enjoyed doing – his medium, his element. My point in posting this video is that, wouldn’t it be much more beneficial to ALL children, not just those with ADHD, to provide them with a wide range of experiences so that they can find out about themselves and what their mediums are?

I remember when I was in high school, during my sophomore and junior years, going through somewhat of a crisis because I did not know who I was. I was sheltered and didn’t have a lot of life experience to fall back on in terms of knowing how life worked and what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go when I got out of high school. It is one of the scariest feelings in the world, not knowing who you are or what you are going to do or how to go forward with your life. But all I had really known, as far as school went, was sitting at a desk writing papers. And I was good at that. But I knew that I couldn’t do that for the rest of my life. Life isn’t about sitting at a desk writing papers. It is about finding what you really love to do and doing it. It is about living. And I had no idea how to do that.

Luckily I found out, and I found my element. But it took me years. I was in my thirties before I found it and figured out who I was. That is a lot of time that I could have spent being me instead of figuring out me.

After watching this video, it occurred to me that maybe we should be offering all children experiences  that will enable them to figure out who they are and what they love, instead of just sitting them at a desk all day and expecting them to write papers. Stephen Tonti said that he was able to figure out what he loved to do simply because he had the opportunity to do many, many things with all of his energy. Shouldn’t everyone have that opportunity so that they can figure themselves out? Is it fair to expect children or young adults to spend so much time figuring that out? Especially with the cost of higher education these days – stories are told all the time about people who went to get a degree, found out that they didn’t even like doing what it was they got the degree for, and then going back to get a degree in what it was they really wanted to do. It really seems like a huge waste of time and money, when we could be offering children the chance to learn about real life so that they can figure all of this out before they get to that point.

Our education system is so focused on assessments and testing that we have lost sight of what children really need to be learning about: how to live. Yes, math, reading and writing are important when it comes to living a full life, but they are not everything. Offering children experiences could help them learn how to live full, productive lives with as little wasted time as possible.

And I wonder, now that I think about it…do I blog because I know nothing else besides reading and writing? Because that is all I learned earlier in life? I was good at it, remember? That is a depressing thought. I do more than that, though. I teach. I try to offer the children that I teach experiences because I know how beneficial it is to them. I know that they aren’t even worried about their element at the age of two, but at least I can give them as much experience at life as I can. Someone should.

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