Imagine you have an 11 year old child.
How many useful things are out there that would be beneficial for your child to learn in the 7 years before becoming an adult? In other words what should be part of a really useful education after your child has learned basic reading/writing and math?
Let's brainstorm a couple of random things that might be useful:
- On the professional side, soft skills like management, teamwork, presenting, selling, negotiating, problem solving, time management, self organization, project management and leadership would be handy.
- Computer skills like operating office software, using data bases, programming, blind typing and video editing would often be useful as well.
- From a personal growth perspective dealing with rejection/failure, learning to deal with different personalities, overcoming fears, receiving and giving feedback, dealing with stress, responsibly handling alcohol, nikotin and other drugs, understanding risks and celebrating successes likely wouldn't harm either.
- Work experiences and visiting other countries teach many of the skills above. The more time is spend on diverse experiences, the better.
- On a practical level planing a trip, organizing personal finances, repairing things at home, building things, operating house hold appliances, car maintenance and handling bureaucracy come to mind.
- Surely knowledge about business, science, history, languages, your body and your mind would be useful too.
The list above hardly scratches the surface of the many areas and aspects of knowledge and skills that would be useful. It just serves to illustrate that there is a huge amount of stuff out there that would be useful to learn.
Of course your (imaginary?) child can't learn everything that's useful. But as a parent you probably would want your child to learn the most important things and as much of the rest as possible. So how could your child go about learning all that stuff?
We've already discussed that traditional school education is not teaching much useful stuff. So your child would have to learn most of those things outside of school. But wait! That would mean cutting down most of your child's free time and play time. That would suck, certainly from the perspective of your child. Hopefully your child is imaginary otherwise this would get you in serious trouble.
This is the point where most parents give up. There is no time for so many extra things in addition to school - no matter how useful they might be. Case closed.
...Unless you dare to touch the holy school. From a rational perspective, school is a giant waste of time to learn just a few useful things. Since we're in urgent need for time to teach useful stuff, let's get rid of this waste.
Nice theory, you might say, how does this translate into real life action? Well, lets find out:
My son didn't go to school for one week in May, but did a test week of useful education instead. Since I'm working full time I could only stay at home on Monday to get him started. Tuesday to Friday he was on his own working on a list of 6-7 30min learning tasks that I gave him for each day. He started learning:
- Math concepts using khanacademy.org
- Multiplication tables using the Timez Attack computer game
- About science using BBC's series "The Story of Science"
- German using rosettastone.com
- Blind typing using typingweb.com
- Gmail using lynda.com
- Physical effects & logical thinking using the Crazy Machines computer game
- To do things on his own using outdoor tasks in Bayside e.g. buying a toothbrush or counting parking spots
Results? He successfully completed more than 80% of the tasks and found it much more interesting than school.
Since the test week was a big success overall, we decided to stop wasting time in school and start learning useful things. This September 3rd, my son's first year of useful education will begin! Any bets if we'll make the 1st year? Stay tuned :)