Today is November 11 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you realize lessons learned outside of school?” People who navigate the chaos
know that they learn more outside of the classroom then they ever could inside one. This paradigm runs counter to many K-12 and higher education officials who try to convince you that their school is the only place where learning occurs and that, if your child does not graduate from there, will have a life of failure, missed opportunities, and undeveloped potential.
Anyone who has ever navigated the chaos understand all too well the adage oft attributed to Mark Twain “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” If there is one constant among those who navigate the chaos it is that they were forced to learn as they encountered one experience after another along the way as they most likely lacked the information, knowledge, and wisdom they needed.
Charles J. Sykes is one educator who has spent years helping parents, educators, and students understand the enormous value of learning outside of the classroom. In his books In his books Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add (1995) 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education (2017) Sykes provides a provocative look at today’s educational system.
In the introduction to 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School he explains his intention and wrote "My intention is constructive: I want to help prepare young people to be responsible, competent, confident, self-reliant, independent, realistic individuals who are armed with the inner resources and the habits of mind to resist the blather and blandishments of the world they are about to enter.”
In that same introduction Sykes discussed the research of Michael Barone. According to Barone the United States is currently divided between two diametrically opposed approaches to parenting. On the one side is Hard America that stresses competition, hard work, resilience, and results. The other side, Soft America, coddles children, removes obstacles for them, wraps children in bubble-wrap, and ensure they experience no emotional distress. Hard America understands that overcoming adversity is critical to personal growth and values the test of bad times. Soft American, however, thinks kids are traumatized by having their papers marked with red pens.
To help bridge the gap between the two Americas Sykes wrote a list of rules students would not learn in school. Here is his “11 Rules You Won’t Learn in School”:
1. Life is not fair – get used to it.” The more time you spend complaining about the things you cannot control, the less time you will devote to the things you can.
2. “The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem.” You need to achieve something on your own for others to stand up and applaud your contribution.
3. You won’t earn $60,000 right out of high school.” You will need to work your way up, and the lessons and failures you experience along the way will serve as your real education.
4. “If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.” In many cases, it is your tuition that is paying the teacher. In the business world, it is the teacher who’s paying you.
5. “Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.” When your grandparents were young, flipping burgers was an opportunity to learn.
6. “If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault … It’s yours.” Do not waste time blaming others. They will resent you, and it does not earn you any real respect.
7. “Take responsibility for your own contribution, rather than waiting for others to place opportunities in front of you.” Do not waste time waiting for someone to hand you the roadmap to success.
8. “Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.” Hard work is often its own reward. And consistent hard work leads to greater rewards.
9. “Life is not divided into semesters and you won’t have the summers off.” Make time for yourself but devote yourself to being focused and equal to the task each day.
10. “Television is not real life.” You need to step outside your comfort zone to really experience life.
11. “Be nice to nerds … Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.”
What lessons have you learned outside of school?