Sunday, July 24, 2011

Offering Students the Chance to Shape their Own Lives

Many years ago I attended a Franklin Covey "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" Training.  It was a great training because it was universal in its themes and applications. One of the seven habits, the second one I believe, is to Begin With The End in Mind.  It ties back to the trite question we often ask children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Early in life children answer that question with unabashed honesty.  "I want to be an artist" or "I want to be a dancer" or "I want to be a taxi driver" or "I want to be a chef."  But as children get older, we begin to work on revising their answers because, as adults, we know that nobody will ever make money being an artist or a dancer or a taxi driver.  We steer children away from those ideas because we, as the worldly adults we are, want our children and students to make good livings, to make money.

But in doing so, we marginalize the innate talents of our children and students and force them away from lives and work that might make them happy.  At the core, what we really want are children who are responsible, productive members of society, who keep the machinery running after we are gone.  And to keep things running means doing work, in some cases hard work, dirty work, work that for some reason we feel is not worthy of the esteem we place on some jobs.

Dr. Ken Robinson makes a great point that not all students need to go to college and not all students need to go to college right after they graduate high school.

But if students do not go to college, how will they get good jobs?  Well it starts with teaching them concepts that are universal like "Begin With the End in Mind."  An idea based on the principle that all things are created twice.  The first, the mental creation, is the ability to imagine what it is you want to accomplish.  The second, the physical creation, is focusing your efforts in bringing that idea or dream to life.  

That is a skill we could teach in schools, especially now during the dawning of the Creative Age.  This new world we are entering needs people who not only dream but then focus to bring those dreams to life for the benefit of themselves and others.  And bringing any dream to life takes a lot of hard work.

In this TED Talk from Mike Rowe, host of "Dirty Jobs" and "Deadliest Catch," he makes important points about the importance of hard work and the happiness it brings to those who have some of the "dirtiest jobs."

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