All my life, I've been surrounded by kids. Babies, young kids, tweens & teens have always been a large part of my family, job and personal life. In fact, I almost went in to teaching (which, as it turns out, would have been a disaster... but that's a different story) and instead, work on behalf of kids at one of Calgary's largest family-serving organizations.
Outside of work, I coach three of my cousins in their school work - grades 2, 4 and 8 - as well as one grade 8 student who is a family friend. I call this coaching rather than tutoring as much of the time is spent with me saying "I don't know; let's do some research!" : )
Finally, my interest in education also is part of my commitment to my own life-long learning, and belief that mentoring, continuing education and simply learning new things are be important parts of everyones life.
All of which I say to provide some backdrop as to how excited I was to reach chapter three in Linchpin by Seth Godin, which you may recall is the subject of a blog-collaboration involving myself and Chett.
To this point, Linchpin has focused at length about the new economy and work environment. Through these readings, I have wondered how we can all adjust to this environment, and how we can raise and teach our next generation to grow to this world.
In teaching and coaching kids, I've learned that just like each student has their own learning style, so does each teacher have their own teaching style. The best situations happen when the two styles collide.
For decades, as Godin writes, our school's have taught with a structure that creates "factory workers" - people who can follow rules, listen to bosses, do their work and go home. Not ask questions, not colour outside the lines, not create their own art or work. This was what the economy demanded, and this is what our schools taught us to become.
But now, says Godin, our changed economy requires people who can take initiative, come up with ideas, invent new things and question the status quo - in other words, linchpins. These invaluable people will become essential as they change work, life and society for the better.
In Godin's view, this requires a complete overhaul of our school system, encouraging students to explore, question and discover instead of memorize and recite answers. Generally, I agree with this position; certainly, my favourite teachers in school and since have allowed and pushed me to find my own answers. As a teacher/guide for the kids in my life and for myself, I know that teaching to ask questions and explore is far more complicated - but also more fun and interesting.
But, I also believe there's a point to be made about the importance of structure, and of learning the basics. Yes, kids today will always know a world with spellcheck, but they will still need to put a basic sentence together. And, kids truly do benefit from having rules, routines and structure - whether they know it or not. They need to question and learn, but they also need stability.
It's important to find a balance there, and to work with it in a healthy way. As learners in this new economy Godin describes, we must all find such a balance.
One more point from Godin - he points out that leadership and asking questions are skills that can be taught and must be learned. This is an important fact, but easy to forget; and these skills can be learned at any age.
So, you may be asking what this means to you, if you don't consider yourself a teacher or guide. Well, I would suggest you reconsider - there is someone in your life who can benefit from your knowledge and experience. When you connect with that person and begin sharing of yourself and learning from them, you both will benefit.
You have much to share - honestly!