Key #7: The Adult In Your Child
You are not raising a child – you are raising an adult. We often forget that. What can you possibly teach your children to help them be all they can be? The great men and women of the world understand Respect and Responsibility.
Popular author Michael Crichton (October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was a lover of nature and the great outdoors. It shows in nearly all of his works: the jungle – Congo; the ocean – Sphere; the world of bacteria/viruses – Andromeda Strain and later – Prey; the overall planet – State of Fear; and in his last work, published posthumously, the world of plants and insects – Micro.
The Lack of Nature
In recent times he joined those of us in lamenting the lack of real world experience that current generations of children have. There are a number of people who are trying to alert us of the probable challenges arising our of this growing lack. In the Introduction to Micro Mr. Crichton joins the ranks of those calling our attention to the many facets of this problem.
Micro (novel) released Nov 2011
Introduction: What Kind of World Do We Live In?
In 2008 the famous naturalist David Attenboroughn expressed concern that modern school children could not identify common plants and insects found in nature, although previous generations identified them without hesitation. Modern children, it seemed, were cut off from the experience of nature, and from play in the natural world. Many factors were held up to blame: urban living; loss of open space; computers and the internet; heavy homework schedules. But the upshot was that children were no longer being exposed to nature and no longer acquiring a direct experience with nature. It was ironic that this should be happening at a time when there was in the West an ever greater concern for the environment, and ever more ambitious steps proposed to protect it.
Indoctrinating children in proper environmental thought was a hallmark of the green movement, and so children were being instructed to protect something about which they knew nothing at all. It did not escape notice that this was exactly the formula that had led to well-intentioned environmental degradation in the past – the deterioration of American National Parks being a prime example, and the American policy of forest fire prevention, another. Such policies would never have been instituted if people really understood the environments they were trying to protect.
The problem was that they thought they did. One can argue that the new generation of school children will emerge even more certain. If nothing else, school teaches that there is an answer to every question; only in the real world do young people discover that many aspects of life are uncertain, mysterious, and even unknowable. If you have a chance to play in nature, if you are sprayed by a beetle, if the color of a butterfly wing comes off on your fingers, if you watch a caterpillar spin it’s cocoon – you come away with a sense of mystery and uncertainty. The more you watch, the more mysterious the natural world becomes, and the more you realize how little you know. Along with it’s beauty, you may also comes to experience fecundity, it’s wastefulness, aggressiveness, ruthlessness, parasitism, and it’s violence. These qualities are not well-conveyed in textbooks.
Perhaps the single most important lesson to be learned by direct experience is that the natural world, with all it’s elements and interconnections, represents a complex system and therefore we can not understand it and we cannot predict it’s behavior. It is delusion to behave as if we can, as it would be delusion to behave as if we could predict the stock market, another complex system. If someone claims to predict what a stock will do in the coming days, we know that person is either a crook or a charlatan. If an environmentalist makes similar claims about the environment, or an ecosystem, we have not yet learned to see him as a false prophet or a fool.
Human beings interact with complex systems very successfully. We do it all the time. But we do it by managing them, not by claiming to understand them. Managers interact with the system: they do something, watch for the response, and then do something else in an effort to get the result they want. there is an endless iterative interaction that acknowledges we don’t know for sure what the system will do – we have to wait and see. We may be right much of the time. But we are never certain.
Interacting with the natural world, we are denied certainty. And always will be.
How then can young people gain experience of the natural world? Ideally, by spending time in a rain forest – those vast, uncomfortable, alarming, and beautiful environments that so quickly knock our preconceptions aside.
Michael Crichton: August 28, 2008
Saving Our Children From Nature – Deficit Disorder
For a clearer understanding of the depth of the lacking experience and detailed examination of some of the trouble it may cause in people, and therefore our world, you should read Louv’s Last Child In The Woods.
So much of our educational system is designed to homogenizing kids. Rather than teaching the next generation to think for themselves, we are teaching them to think like everyone else – to be one of the “masses” rather then the stand out individual they are naturally. It all starts with the education mindset.
Here is a great video from TED: Ideas Worth Spreading focused on teaching children the idea of individualism instead of common-ism.
Cameron Herold: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs
Teaching Your Child Is Your Job
As parents and guardians we need to thin of ways of teaching possibility thinking. Of course you must be of that mindset first.
For more about Cameron Herold’s ideas on Teaching Entrepreneurship click here.
Hope For The Future:
It’s Time To Dump Chicken Little
We have been focusing on the downside and ‘playing the devil’s advocate’ for so long that our youth no longer believes their lives can be better than ours! We see these headlines all the time telling us there is no hope for the future:
“For the past 50 years, kids have done better than their parents. The next generation will be the first to do worse as shown by the following figures revealed by the historian – Dominic Sandbrook.”
“Are Millennials the Screwed Generation? (yes, they have been screwed.)”
Guess What? It’s Not True
I love the book and it does have a positive message, simply that there is hope for the future. The sad story “Eeyores” out there have it wrong. Like so many things we read & hear in the media and the stuff we call “common knowledge” (an oxymoron if ever there was one) there is a skin of statistics here that has been stretched over the truth, which is the antithesis of what we are being told.
Here is a video that may help you see what I mean. It is a talk by Peter H. Diamandis onstage at TED2012. Please watch it and then read on. It may help you have some hope for the future yourself.
I was led to this video doing some research on one of the most amazing books I have read in several years. Get it at your local library or at Amazon: Click on the picture it will take you to view it there (yes, it is my affiliate link). But what ever you do, you need to read it.
Hope For The Future: If You Have or Know Teenagers…..
Then make sure they read it too. Everyone out in the ‘real world’ is talking about how the college grads can’t find work in their field, and about how the government keeps extending jobless benefits, etc. They all seem to be running around screaming “the sky is falling, THE SKY IS FALLING!” Here is some advice that will save you – don’t listen! Instead, start paying attention to those who see the Hope For The Future. Teach your kids that their future is as bright as they want it to be, if they will work and stretch to make it that way.
And if they don’t want to read the book, or the 16 minute video was too much for them, get them to watch this one. It’s called Abundance: Thoughts On The Book and it runs all of one minute and fifty seven seconds.
But whatever you do, don’t let them get caught up in the “I have no future” woe is me mindset. There are many things to be positive about in life, and there are skills and methods that create hope for the future, read more in this area here.