Dear friends, Over at Palladium I have written School is Not Enough. The beginning may be familiar to some readers, the post is an elaboration of my thinking about agency. I speak a bit more about the problem, and potential solutions. I leave it implicit that I find it this very interesting: While there is so much focus on education, the bottleneck for flourishing has not been
I absolutely loved your essay on Palladium. SO much to think about in reading it, still processing... but really resonated with this passage:
"The sad result of school’s length and primacy is that it ensures there is nothing in particular for children to do, and since the rigid framework precludes other options, we are sure to destroy their opportunities for making meaningful contributions to the world. The longer we disallow children from having the agency to act on the world, the harder it becomes for them to visualize it in the first place. The result is that we have young adults who have a difficult time adjusting once their life-script changes even a little bit. The path is rigid, yet brittle."
It made me wonder what would be different if we were encouraged from a young age to share our gifts with the world for the sake of contributing instead of for the sake of writing good college applications.
Thank you so much for your work!
YAY excellent piece, brava.
NO MORE DEADLINES
I enjoyed your essay on Palladium. You summarize it so well in here on Substack:
"While there is so much focus on education, the bottleneck for flourishing has not been knowledge acquisition for quite some time. Instead it seems to be within direction, discipline, and finding (or continuing to find) incentives to learn and build."
We just finished our second year of homeschooling (three sons between eight and twelve). One of our the biggest challenges is encouraging doing (building, creating, and learning) over raw consumption.
Without guardrails, their summer break would largely consist of them cycling between video games, YouTube, and Netflix. But when gently pushed outside, they create an afternoon of building "squirrel houses," digging steps into the hill in our backyard, and playing basketball.
As a family, we can choose to opt-out of a lot of the distractions in the modern world. I'm learning as I go, but I think that is one of the keys to developing agency in children.
School certainly does not seem like an environment for promoting agency; just the opposite.
But the interesting thing is that some children do exercise their agency there; they somehow find ways to reinterpret what the school asks (or demands) of them in a way that allows them to make the most of what I would consider to be a bad situation. I find myself wondering what kinds of kids are able to do that.
That's not what I did; I basically opted out, ignoring what the school asked of me in favor of privately pursuing my own interests. While I did succeed in educating myself (and even outperforming most of my fellow students on the SAT/ Achievement tests), I was not unaffected by this, for I had trouble imagining a future in which other people would not be seeking to control my mind in the same ways that the school had done. I envy those who apparently feel "I can walk into any human organization and make good things happen there."
How do you plan to approach educating your children? Traditional school plus easing agency through parenting, a mix, or homeschool?
How are the deer where you are? I’ve heard bulbs referred to as deer lollipops, and in general anywhere wolves are scarce deer become the bane of a planters existence.