I hear this a lot: ‘I would like to know how to get there!’
Of course, as I live in Silicon Valley, this is ‘The’ question asked by nearly everyone. Most of us actually come here to learn ‘how to get there’. Most are pursuing financial independence. And we do learn tons of good things here, in the Valley.
We arm ourselves with our best reads; The Innovator’s Dilemma, How to Find Friends and Influence People, The Lean Start Up, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, The Start-up of You, just to name a few…And when we get out there, we see people trying really hard to fit in and to stand out, to help others and to get noticed, to do good deeds and get promoted by them… It is confusing! And our children are watching us.
I see kids around here who look and act nothing like kids. They choose their clubs (as in extracurricular activities) not by what they like or even have a passion for…but by what will look good on their resumes for College (this is a 14/15 year-old). They go into these ‘fun’ clubs and immediately look for a leadership position. If the club is called ‘Leadership’ they want to know on day 1: ‘Will there be some leadership positions available on Leadership?! If not…I’m out’. Whaaat?!? What kind of leaders are we creating here?
In my perception as a (expat) mother of 3, ‘fun’ is the last thing on a Silicon Valley kid’s agenda (not that they do not want it or don’t have any, there are tons of cool things for kids to do here – if only they had enough time for these!). From middle school onwards all that matters is that ‘A’ and those extra activities that they pack into their already busy days (tons of homework, sports and clubs).
We are really messing these kids up, they(we) are really not getting it. They see these young – I mean young 13-year-olds – kids making headlines as inventors, creators, innovators and they all – or their parents- think the way to ‘get there’ is in fact to kill themselves studying for their A’s, do all AP’s in the world, apply for all the ‘look good in your resume clubs’ – Math club, Leadership Club, DECA club, etc – and totally forget they actually have talents of their own which they ought to explore.
This guy http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29920654 did something awesome; he followed a passion and paired it with a heart to help others. Mr. Barnejee, 13-years-old, the school boy who is bringing a low cost Braille printer to market and is being backed by Intel.
The problem here in the Valley is…some parents see someone like Barnejee and go berserke. They expect their kids to be one of the Silicon Valley young entrepreneurs and come up with something real smart. Not a picture, or a pirouette, or a post on Tumblr! However, kids being able to follow their passion is a great start in itself, no matter what it is. Looking at our Educational system I see ‘we are educating our children out of creativity’ – TedTalk
As parents, we too, are kind of lost. We want to provide the best education for our kids but when we do so, we get a little scared about the concept of ‘best‘ available out there…Then, as we venture ourselves to be a little bit hippie; expressing we actually want our kids to be kids, our teens to be teens, we may sound irresponsible. And with our parental decision of letting our kids be kids and have fun, comes the fear that we maybe ‘ruining’ their chances of having this perfect college resume (!)
How do you get there? I don’t know. How did you get here? From here to there; do you plan to have any fun at all? I do.
Each of us is on a journey, it is up to us to make it a pleasant, fulfilling and yes, inspiring one. It is just one life, one childhood, one teenagehood…