This is a great article, by somebody named Mandy in xoJane. Here, where Mandy quotes Seth Godin, I paused. Seth says:
“Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission, authority and safety that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, ‘I pick you.’
Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you … then you can actually get to work.”
Wherever do we get that idea — that we must wait to get picked, that somebody in authority must approve of us before we proceed? In school! For our entire childhood! From ages five (or earlier) to eighteen (or later)! And then some more in college. That is the very nature of school; that is exactly how it works, and anybody who does not eventually accept it and get with the program fails. Raise your hand and wait to be called on. Try out for the part and wait to get picked. To be sure, there’s no other way possible with 20 or more kids and only one teacher, or with just one team or one musical and only so many positions available. Or with so few companies hiring and only so many jobs available. Raise your hand, smile real big, and wait to be picked. Unless … you make your own musical. Start your own team. Make your own work.
How, in a “raise your hand and wait your turn” world, can we encourage young people to create their own way? How can we help them learn how to do that? To try and fail but learn something and then try again and fail again but maybe learn more this time and then try again, and then again, and thereby gradually learn how to try and succeed?
I don’t know. I’m asking. But I don’t see it happening in any traditional classroom. Where you have to raise your hand and wait to be picked, and where you’re told what to try and you maybe get a B on it (whatever the heck that means) and then you move on to the next thing, instead of honing your knowledge or skills on that thing, or better yet, on something — anything — that you’d actually like to learn.
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P.S. I added this after conversing with somebody about this (quite astute) part, from Mandy’s article:
“But for anyone who lives in fear of being That Guy who’s too cocky or confident, you can rest assured: YOU WILL NEVER BE THAT GUY. Just the fact that you WORRY about being that guy is your built in stop-gap. Instead, move the dial far, far over to give yourself the fighting self-confidence chance you deserve.”
But it is something to consider, because for sure you don’t want to raise a generation of assholes.
Maybe the question is more like: “How, in a ‘raise your hand and wait your turn’ world, can we encourage young people to create their own way without being buttheads?”
But you know what. Even that (the buttheadedness), I think, is rooted in the ranking-and-sorting and waiting-your-turn system. In a competitive system (with grades and honor roll and percentiles and test-based assessments and winners and losers), there will be jockeying for position, and when that happens, somebody’s gonna get hurt. In a non-competitive system (whatever that would look like — people pursuing their own projects, together or individually, as they desire, with mentors to help and resources available), there is no jockeying for position. There’s only, “Hey, what are you doing? That’s cool! Wanna see my thing? It’s about half done. Say, you and Joe should get together; he’s doing something like that too; you two could trade ideas.”
(Imagine there’s no heaven …)