Why Adults Find it Boring To Play with Children (And what you can do about it). 126

Why Adults Find it Boring To Play with Children (And what you can do about it). 126

Why do adults often find it boring to play with children, sometimes to the point of feeling physically uncomfortable? Is there a way for us as adults to enjoy playing with children when we feel like it is the last thing we’d want to do?

This is something that I’ve been exploring over many years as I was working as a teacher, and couldn’t understand why it crippled me in my ability to enjoy my day and stifled my relationship with the children I worked with, because I became irritated and annoyed with them, completely without reason. What I found is that we as adults find it boring to play with children because:

A) We’re completely immersed in our ‘adult mind’ which prompts us to focus on being efficient and getting things done, and most of us have long since left behind our ‘child presence’ of being able to truly BE HERE and enjoy the moment and be immersed in what we’re doing. So we simply don’t see the value of play. We’re disconnected from our own bodies, which is one of the reasons why we may feel physically uncomfortable when sitting down to play with a child. Because we are confronted with ourselves on a level we’re not used to. So we see it as a waste of time for us to engage in, even if we see the benefit of spending ‘quality time’ with our child.

B) When adults play with children, we tend to let them decide everything while we passively tag along – exactly because we can’t or won’t fully engage and participate on equal terms. So we ‘halfass’ it to put in as little effort as possible, while our minds are often preoccupied elsewhere with ‘more important things’.

(Children pick up on this by the way, which is what often make them go all up in our face, asking the same questions over and over. They’re trying to get us to engage and be present.)

When we play only on the child’s terms and let the child make all the decisions, it is really boring to play. A child would never let another child make all the decisions in play. It simply wouldn’t be fun.

So – the way to engage with a child in play that can be mutually enjoying for the adult may include:

A) Play something that YOU TOO ENJOY. If you don’t like role play then don’t do it (or maybe challenge yourself first and see what it’s like). If you enjoy building and construction, why not pull out the legos? If you like creating homemade birthday cards, then make that into a mutual moment of play if you find that your child too enjoys playing with paper. If you can’t come up with anything, then that’s fine too. You can cook or bake together or clean out the garage in a fun and engaging way. You can even have a play date every week where you try out different things to find something that you both enjoy. What matters is that you participate on equal terms with your child so that the activity is fun for the both of you. And don’t halfass it.

B) Ground yourself in the present moment, in the sandbox or on the floor with the train set or with the dollhouse – and physically focus on becoming present here and letting go of the constant undercurrent of stress and pressure and time. Know that it takes practice to come back (and for some of us, for the first time) to a state of playfulness. As adults, we’ve spend 20 + years in a state of stress and hurry and getting things done, so don’t worry if you don’t immediately enjoy sitting down and hanging out with your kid. Can set a timer to 20 or 30 minutes to begin with if that helps.

This is actually a really cool ‘zen exercise’ that may be as valuable as meditation is to many people, as it brings you back HERE – to reality, to your body, to your child. And so, as you accept and embrace the current moment, you may start reconnecting with yourself on a whole other level and start seeing the value of the simplicity of play – and of spending time with your child in this way. Who knows what doors it may open up?

Why We Can’t Teach Children Values that aren’t Our Own. 125

Why We Can’t Teach Children Values that aren’t Our Own. 125

You very often hear adults speaking about how important it is to teach children values like ‘kindness’, ‘respect’, ‘empathy’ or ‘honesty’. In schools all over the world you will see endless rows of colorful posters instructing children: “In our school everyone is equal!” “treat each other with kindness!” Teachers will give entire lessons to prevent bullying by teaching ‘inclusion’ and ‘empathy’ towards others. Parents will perpetuate the same phrases over and over to teach their child manors and values: “be nice to your sister!” “Play gently with the dog.” “In this house we share!” It is clear that parents and teachers alike pay a great deal of attention to teaching these kinds of values.

We think we say these things to teach children the ways and values of the world. But we really say these things because we assume that children are not born with a moral compass. We believe that it is something WE have to teach them. This gets validated when we see them yank the dog’s tail so hard that it yelps in pain, or when they exclude another child from a game for no apparent reason.

Although most of us would not admit it, on a subconscious level, we see children as ‘savages’ who must be civilized and trained to become decent human beings who can function in society.

Now, considering the current state of the world and the general demeanor of adult human beings, and how we treat the world, I would say that our parents mission to raise us ‘right’ has failed and failed hard. The same can be said for their parents and their parents’ parents, and so the list goes on. It is equally true for our children, but how can that be so? I mean, we’re busy teaching them all these values, yet the odds are that they will grow up to become cheats and megalomaniacs and liars and narcissistic assholes like the rest of us. Why is that?

The truth is that we cannot teach children values like ‘equality’, ‘playing fair with others’ or ’empathy’ because most of us do not even know what it means to live these values ourselves. Sure, we know what it means on a superficial level, but if we were honest with ourselves, can we say that we truly live equality? Do we play fair with others? And what does it even mean?

In traditional Freudian psychology the human mind consists of three levels, the “Id”, the “ego” and the “superego”. The Id is the instinctual, impulsive and childish part of us, the part of us that throws tantrums and screams when we don’t get what we want. It is the voice of pleasure and selfish desire. It is what our children represent. The superego is the parent, the voice of reason, the one who is able to suppress impulses and do what is right. It is the values and morals taught by society. The “ego”, the middle aspect, is the balanced part of us where we are at an even key balancing our impulses and our common sense, or if you will: where we are in a state of constant conflict and battle between the two more extreme sides of us.

As teachers, and as parents in particular, we access a role of representing the superego to our children. We see ourselves as representatives and gatekeepers of a moral compass that we believe we must to pass onto our children, and we completely disregard the fact that we haven’t developed this moral compass in ourselves. We completely deny the fact that what we are doing is not only deceiving ourselves, but also our children. We do so by pretending that we’ve got it all figured out, that we are examples that they can lean on and model themselves according to. We deny and suppress the parts of us that aren’t socially acceptable, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, it doesn’t mean that we don’t act them out and it doesn’t mean that our children do not see and pick up on the conflicted behavior that we portray. We say one thing and then do the complete opposite. And then we wonder why our children do as we do, and not as we say.

Let’s look at an example: many parents struggle with, and worry over their children spending too much time on tablets, smartphones or computers playing games or wasting time on social media. We give them ‘screen time’ as rewards for good behavior or doing chores. We control them, limit them, moralize their behavior on these devices. And yet, where do most of us prefer spending our time? Often on the exact same devices we so demonize when in the hands of our young ones.

We constantly tell our children to play nice with their siblings or friends, but how do we not treat our spouses, the people who are supposed to be our best friends and allies in the world? Do we not belittle, exclude, ignore, fight, demean and spite them? Maybe most don’t even do it out loud, but there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t, at the very least judge and condemn others in the secrecy in our own minds, and do so with pleasure.

The actual REAL values we are teaching our children (values being that which we prioritize and give importance to), are values such as suppressing the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, parts that we are a shamed of, instead of facing them and dealing with them in a responsible way. We are teaching them that what matters most is how others see us, not to have integrity within and as ourselves. We are teaching them that lying gets you out of trouble and that you can have forbidden pleasures and desires, as long as you keep them secret and suppressed.

So when we look at why our world is in the state it is in, when we look at each other in dismay at how our children treat each other, all we have to do is take a good hard look at one another and ourselves, and we’ll know why that is so. It all starts with us.

So often do we take values for granted as part of our society and of who we are, that they become nothing but empty words that we say because they make us look good (at least in the eyes of our own mind). But when have we ever actually asked ourselves whether we are in fact living the words we are trying to teach our children? When have we ever questioned how their behavior can be mirrored through us, not as the people we wish we were, but the people we are in fact?

If we truly want our children to become compassionate, giving, emphatic human beings with integrity and respect for others, we need to first develop these values in ourselves, not on a superficial level, but on a real, verifiable, practical level. To do that, we need to first understand what it means to be compassionate, to be emphatic, to be respectful; we need to examine our relationship with and understanding of these values and the words that represent them.

This is something that I would for one like to continue to work with, and together with the teachers who work with children and the parents who raise them, establish real, practical values that we can live and stand as real examples of to our children. After all, our future depends on it.

Watch this space to learn more or contact me if you are interested in getting started with this process.

Related posts

Domesticating the Natural Child. 98

Who You Are is What You’ll Teach. 106

The Good News and the Bad News of Why Learning Cannot be Forced. 109.

The Miseducation of Your Humanity. 110

Stifling THAT child, Stifling the Whole World. 113

Giving Your Child the Best Start in Life when the Odds are stacked Against You. 124

Giving Your Child the Best Start in Life when the Odds are stacked Against You. 124

Being pregnant with your first child, you’d think that it would be a joyous time to be thinking about baby names while preparing to create the most optimal environment for the little one.

In an ideal world, new parents would be able to sit down and make the necessary changes to best provide a supportive and healthy environment for their child. They would be able to move, change their jobs or quit them, and they would be able to choose the type of education that they see is best suited for their child.

When my husband and I started preparing for the arrival of the new baby, we quickly realized that we couldn’t simply start planning for the life we see would be best to provide for our child.

In our case, we would like to live somewhere close to nature where our child is able to explore and enjoy nature and breathe in fresh and unpolluted air. We would like to spend as much time with our child as possible. We would also like to each be able to continue to have an active life, and stand as examples to our child through living in a way that is best for us as adults, pursuing a meaningful and purposeful driven life where making a difference in the world is of priority.

We would like to not be forced to place our child into childcare or a formal school. We would like to at least have a choice in the type of education our child is given. In the country we live in, we don’t.

We would like our child to have other people around them too, both children and adults of different ages. We would like our child to be exposed to all kinds of cultures, from books to people from other countries. We would like to live in a community where adults support each other in taking care of the children and the living environment. We would like to live rich and fulfilling lives with good nutritious food that isn’t laced with hidden toxins, regular exercise, travel and other life-enhancing experiences.

To me, these would be the basic standards of life that each child should at the very least be provided with from the moment of birth, to actually be able to make the most of themselves as adults.

When we look at our options, it is clear that we have to choose between the least bad options available to us, and make the best of that. We might for example not be able to be home with our child as long as possible. Instead we are forced to count every penny to see how far we can stretch the money or come up with a million dollar business idea over night.

Here I would also like to stress the fact that we live in one of the countries in the world that has the best conditions when it comes to things like childcare and maternity leave. We both have higher academic degrees and with my husband having studied law, we have the potential to make a considerable income in the future. I myself have worked in the education field for 15 years, and education and children’s rights are my life’s passion.

So ironically, you might say that we were in the perfect situation to become parents.

So why is it that, even for us who are tremendously privileged compared to most people in this world, we cannot even give our child the very essential upbringing we see would be best for our child to be prepared as best as possible to become an adult in this world? And where does that leave everyone else?

We hear all these fancy blanket statements like “The children are the future!” but it is as though we do not know what this in fact means on a practical level, or we wouldn’t be eroding their chances of the best life possible already from the moment they are conceived.

It is the same with statements like “All people have equal opportunity from birth”. How can that possibly be true, when my child is going to be born with disadvantages and poor odds from the get go, not even mentioning the people whose children are literally born without ANY opportunities to make a supportive life for themselves?

The fact that providing children with the utmost care and the best possible environment to grow up in, isn’t the highest priority in our society, is an unfortunate tell tale sign of where we are at in our evolution as humanity. The fact is that we are devolving rather than evolving at this point.

If children truly are the future, then we cannot care very much about our future since we are constantly making budget-cuts in virtually all areas involving children, childcare and parent support. We don’t even care enough to make the effort to protect the planet from further harm by human hands.

Another thing is that parents are expected to, without any training in how to actually be a parent, raise sensible, caring and productive members of society. Most parents try their best to give their children the best possible upbringing they can, in the best possible environment, with the best possible education, but society is indirectly – and sometimes even directly – disrupting these efforts through its commitment to short sighted wins and profit optimization for the few. It is for all intents and purposes not created to support its members to live and thrive and contribute in the best ways possible, but to erode and consume life resources, including those of human beings, at such a rapid pace that we cannot possibly keep up AND keep a decent living standard.

It would seem as though there are always more important things for us to do, than actually living, that actually caring for life. As the saying goes: as you give so shall you receive, and unfortunately we have created a world where we take a lot and expect everything in return, while we give very little. The same is true for how we raise our children.

One thing is certain: my husband and I are not going to let the lack of odds prevent us from giving our child the best possible start. We are committed to make it work, to find every gap and solution available and to learn and grow together with other parents doing the same. We do this so that our child will at least have a foundation from which they can go into life as whole human beings, human beings who have the potential to change the world, because someone was willing to change themselves and the world for them. So many parents do not have the opportunity to do that, so we do it for them too.  All it takes is one family at a time, changing the world one child at a time.

A New Journey has Begun. 123

A New Journey has Begun. 123

For the past couple of months I have taken a rather long hiatus from blogging. The reason is that I have been suffering from severe morning sickness, leaving me virtually immobile, stranded watching YouTube videos and reading Norwegian fantasy novels as well as The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff on my couch, barely being able to eat, let alone write.

Having worked in education for so many years and spending the past 5 years loudly voicing my perspectives on the radical changes that I see needs to happen in how we see and conduct education, I find myself in the humbling position of becoming a parent for the first time.

I’ve always felt/experienced that I was ‘born to be a mother’ and have always felt very comfortable towards the idea of having children, along with enjoying spending time with children. When I am at dinner parties I always tend to levitate towards hanging out with the children or the animals rather than the adults, because children and animals are more genuine and therefore more interesting to be around. And then of course I decided to become a professional child-caretaker within which I also created an idea of being an ‘expert’ or ‘child whisperer’ of sorts. It is definitely an occupational hazard I have seen in parents that come before me. I remember in teacher conferences we had with parents, the most dreaded parents were always the ones who were teachers themselves, because they thought they knew everything.
Now when I am pregnant, I have been shocked at my own experiences, because they have indeed mostly been negative, filled with fear and doubts and anxiety towards being good enough. On the contrary, I’ve always ‘known’ that being pregnant and having the child would be natural for me, like I would be ‘the best’ at it, and reality is showing me something very different, which is actually cool because it is humbling, and I am much more grounded towards it than I think I would have been, if I had had an harmonious and angelic pregnancy, and I am probably also better equipped for when the child comes, because I’ve had to let go of my idealized ideas of myself and stop being delusional about it.
Considering the change in my circumstances, it is obvious my blog will take on a slightly different direction, given the fact that I will now include a personal perspective on parenting. I am however still as committed as ever to the process of deconstructing the education system from within (also from within the family system) and contributing to creating radical changes in how we see and approach both education, as well as how we see and approach children in general.

Living in a country where unschooling is illegal, I will continue to share my perspectives on the failure of the Swedish school system (which is no different than any other school system in the world. The only difference is that in Sweden, you have no choice to opt out). I will also be sharing the concrete and specific considerations my husband and I have towards how we will approach education on a practical level for our child.

I will share perspectives regarding general childcare and upbringing, probably more so than I have in the past, as this has been and continues to be an area that I am passionate about, and that I am obviously more directly involved with now.

Living in a country that has made modern western science into an orthodox religion, I have found myself feeling very alone when it comes to the principles that I consider to be both natural and commonsensical to raise my child according to, because they are considered to be not only ‘alternative’, but in fact even ‘weird’, ‘strange’ or ‘dangerous’. I am here speaking about something as natural to me as co-sleeping with one’s child, wearing one’s child in a sling and breastfeeding for a longer period of time than what is normally prescribed in this society. I will be sharing my experiences and insights as I start exploring these areas of parenting and child-relating on a more direct and intimate level, and I will share the processes I walk through to deschool myself from fears and beliefs and judgments that prevent me from doing what is best for myself and my child. I will continue to focus on sharing honest – and more importantly: self-honest perspectives on parenting, education and children.

I hope you will join me on this journey to life, not only as teachers, but as parents and adults in general, who wish to give our children a different world to grow up in than then one we were brought into – and who understands the imperative of changing ourselves to make this happen.

Children: The Debt Burden of Society or Life’s Unleashed Potential? 122

Children: The Debt Burden of Society or Life’s Unleashed Potential? 122

The other day while driving, I was listening to a radio program discussing young people taking a ‘gap year’ off between high school and college. In the program they interviewed both politicians as well as young people who had taken one or several gap years. The general perspective of the adults in the program, was that while one gap year can be acceptable, taking two or even three years off between high school and college is unacceptable and ill adviced. Their argument was that young people on gap years are a high cost to society, despite the fact that most of the young people interviewed in program were working while on their gap year. They argued that it costs society billions when young people wait with attending college because they after college become more attractive to the labor market and therefore earn a much higher salary than they do if they start working straight out of high school.

The young people who were interviewed, had gone to school for at least 12 years without pause and felt like they needed a break from school, to get into the world and try their hands at different things, also to find out and discover what they wanted to do with their lives on a long term basis.

They wanted experiences from real life, wanted to work and travel and for once in their lives, be able to decide for themselves. Several of them mentioned how they had made the decision to take several gap years very deliberately, because they knew that if they had started at college straight out of high school, they would have been so demotivated that the chances of them dropping out was very high. Some of them had no idea what they wanted to do in life and so felt like they needed the time to try different things and get to know themselves better because they saw that if they simply picked some random direction, there would be a great chance of them dropping out, which would in turn be a disempowering experience. So they had taken their lives into their own hands and had given themselves these gap years to figure things out, so that when they eventually decided to continue studying, they would have had matured and be more clear about what they wanted to do in life. They also accurately mentioned that even when one finishes college, there is no job guarantee and many graduates end up on unemployment benefits.

One of the things that were very interesting about the program was how the adults spoke about the young people relative to ‘society’s demands’. They spoke about the young people as spoiled freeloaders who were causing harm to society as a whole by being egocentric and only thinking about themselves. The fact that the young people felt like they needed to take a couple of years off to find out what they wanted to do in life, was seen as entirely unnecessary and self-placating.

The adults spoke about society in a context of being nothing but a zero-sum game, through which it is a burden on all of our shoulders to keep the wheels of the economy going.

Is that what society is? Something that we grow up in, and cost a lot of money to while growing up and not earning an income, and that we must spend the rest of our lives paying back, as were we nothing but debtors coming into this world?

The solution, from the perspective of the adults in the program was that young people should go straight from high school to university (or another higher education program resulting in increased earning capacity) and as quickly as possible get into the labor force to contribute to society.

The question is whether we truly contribute more to society by rushing through the education system and rushing into the labor force.

Consider how many of us as adults work in jobs we either hate or couldn’t care less about or that we know deep inside is not where our skills and abilities best comes to use. Consider the lack of work ethic that exists in so many industries due to the fact that the only reason we work is to make enough money to survive. Spending our lives slaving away at meaningless jobs is certainly not something we do ‘for society’, at least not in any benevolent or altruistic way. Society has, in this obscure optics, become an absurd ‘overlord’ to whom we owe our lives.

Society is not a fixed and determined external structure. The earth and the ecosystems in which it is maintain its equilibrium is, to some extent. There are certain physical laws that cannot be messed with, because the consequential outflows of doing so could be potentially life threatening.

Society however, is something that we have co-created and are continuously co-creating as a social construct, a social construct with physical infrastructures like medical systems and tax systems and welfare systems, but not as something fixed or unchangeable. We decide, every day, what society is and what society isn’t. At a fundamental level, society is the way we as human beings agree to organize ourselves in our collective and individual lives. The origin of the word comes from the French ’societe’ which means ‘companionship’ or ’friendly association with others’ and originates from the Latin words ’societatem’ which means ’fellowship, association, alliance, union and community’ and ’socius’ which means ‘companion’.

Society is thus a mutually supportive and equally agreed upon union between companions, agreeing to share their lives for mutual benefit, and not a before mentioned external authority to which we owe our lives.

There are so much more important issues in this world than maintaining the economic status quo of societies on a structural level. It is important to maintain a high standard of living yes, but so is actually ensuring that we have a world to live in; in fact it is the most important issue, especially in this day and age.

Kids are our most important assets yes, but not just to keep the wheels of the economy going, but to in fact ensure that we have a future as a species on this planet. By treating them, and each other like numbers in a zero sum game, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

If we cared for and nurtured the potential existing in the future generations, if we valued each individual’s unique skills and abilities, I have no doubt that we would see an entirely different world in less than 20 years.

Imagine if young people were given the space, time and resources to try different things out. And here I do not mean on a purely theoretical level, which is what we are offered at school, but on a real, practical hands on level. Imagine if kids, already as they enter into their teenage years got to get out into the world and try their hands at all kinds of different jobs, working side by side with adults as mentors, to really find out where their skills and abilities best comes to use.

Imagine if we stopped seeing society as something that we owe our lives to, and instead started seeing it as a social network of mutual support and co-creation, as a place where we are supported to discover and develop our potential, to contribute to creating the best world possible.

We would see the most amazing inventions being created, inventions that could clean our oceans, restore our rain forests and cure diseases. We would see kids growing up taking active and voluntary responsibility for their own lives, and for the world. There is no one who does not want to contribute, who does not want to be of value and purpose to the world. But what we are doing at the moment through our school systems is not harnessing or nurturing anything of real and substantial value.

If taking one or two or three gap years is what is needed for young people to find their way in life, then let us give them that opportunity. But even more than that, let’s stop seeing society as a burden on our shoulders; let’s stop seeing society as a bank we owe our lives to. Let’s stop seeing children as a form of debt and currency, with which we keep the wheels of the economy going. Let’s see children for what they truly are: pure, unleashed life potential, and let’s remember that we too as adults, despite having been subjugated into passivity and apathy for all these years, have this life potential within us. There is nothing stopping us – except us.

The Good News and the Bad News of Why Learning Cannot be Forced. 109.

The Good News and the Bad News of Why Learning Cannot be Forced. 109.

You cannot force someone to learn. You can threaten them, you can punish them, you can force them to sit still and listen (or pretend to listen), but you cannot force them to learn.

No one can be forced to learn.

Why is it then, that our entire schooling system and the strategies with which most parents raise their children are based on the very premise that children can be forced to learn?

How many of us have not experienced information being forced upon us through threats of punishment?

I am sure most of us remember times when we were children where our parents or other adults tried to force us to learn. We would make a mistake, either innocently or due to doing something we knew we shouldn’t do and they would scold us or even berate us and they would devise punishments to teach us about the consequences of our actions.

What did we learn?

We learned how to hide our mistakes, to pretend like they did not happen and we learned how to lie better to avoid that experience of being scolded, even to ourselves. We learned that when we make mistakes, our parents and other adults gets angry with us, that it is us who are wrong, that there is something wrong with us – not with the actions we took. Very seldom would parents or other adults take the time to actually support us to understand the course of actions that created the mistake in the first place and how to prevent them in the future.

Learning is something that happens on an internal level and no matter how much outside force is exerted, if the person is unwilling or unable to learn, they will not learn. They might be able to copy behaviors or become good at pretending that they’ve learned – but real learning can only happen if the person takes the information in and makes it a part of him or herself.

What does it mean to make information a part of ourselves?

When we make information a part of ourselves, we come to understand it on an intrinsic and internal level, where we integrate it as a part of who we are. We can only do that when we see a purpose with learning that information, when learning that information is relevant to us and the context we are in.

When information is being stuffed down our throats, often without reasonable explanation, how much do we actually learn?

How many of us remember even a fraction of what we learned in school or even in university? Do we not remember much more about the people, the relationships we formed than the knowledge we were supposed to integrate? Why is that?

“Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant.” – Russell Ackoff

We force children to mimic us, to copy behaviors and to parrot the teacher or parent and we call that learning, but what would if we were to apply a different strategy where learning is seen as a self-directed process happening internally within the child, within which the parent or teacher more than anything stands as a facilitator?

Instead of trying to force children to learn information that is important to us, or that we believe to be relevant while they are off learning things because it matters to them (like how to navigate social hierarchies or getting skilled at playing computer games), we can decide to take on a different role in the child’s learning process.

In a real learning environment adults are no longer superior entities whose role it is to enforce authority, but who instead work with and assist the child to navigate, assess, sort and reflect on information, to discover what is meaningful to them.

Real learning requires more than the passive corporation of the child, student or participant – it requires a self-directed will to learn where the information has meaning and purpose to the one who learns it.

If we cannot force a child to learn, we also cannot take responsibility (or credit) for a child’s learning process. What we can do instead is to provide the child with an optimum environment and space for learning where information is available, where there is time and resources to delve into subjects on a deeper and more substantial level. We can assist them to make meaning of what they see, read and hear and help them to contextualize what they see, read and hear to their own lives and the life we collectively share.

There is good news and there is bad news in all of this.

The bad news is that our school systems and most parenting strategies are based on the idea that learning is something that can be forced, that children can (and even should) be intimidated into learning. This means that real learning most often happens outside of school and outside the iron grip of parenting and it means that children (and everyone else) aren’t learning a fraction of what they could be learning.

The good news is that realizing that learning cannot be forced actually gives children a point of power that we seldom realize (or admit) that they have.

This also means that we cannot decide what a child learns and more importantly, we have to admit that we never could.

It also means that there are no leaders or followers in these Hunger Games that we call schooling – and the question we must ask ourselves is whether we even need schools or teachers for that matter, if education was always in the hands of the individual, to decide and direct themselves to either learn or not?