I saw an ad for some kind of tutoring for kids, I’m guessing. It said something like, “Kids lose 30% of their school learning during the summer.” I’m pretty sure they were hoping that I’d be frightened, concerned, worried. But my instant reaction was not only to think, “Good,” but to say it out loud defiantly to myself.
Now, I’m a big fan of education, for sure. I revere teachers as gods. I want my kids to learn and grow as students. But when is enough, enough? When do our kids just get to waste time, be bored, play video games, play frisbee, make up dances, stay up too late, read comic books, do dumb stuff with their friends, stare off into space, watch TV? When can we stop cramming learning down their throats and give them a minute to be a human being and just experience life?
And 30%? That sounds kind of like an ideal rate of learning attrition. The truth is they have to memorize a ton of details and dates that aren’t really the point of learning. Most of that stuff only comes up on Trivia Night, which I like to crush, but only because I’ve been on earth so long. My learning attrition is like 70%. I know maybe a few vice presidents and I don’t even care.
School, if done right, is about teaching kids how to learn and critically think about things. It shouldn’t be about retaining everything. How is that possible? And what is the point? I mean, other than Trivia Night.
There’s so much more to life than school learning. In fact, much of the knowledge we get is simply by experiencing the world, being around people, and being exposed to the spectrum of human emotions that happens by the magic of just living our lives. There are lots of ways to grow your brain…and too much emphasis is put on school.
I’m certain there are a lot of parents, and teachers, who will challenge me on this. I’m also certain they have good reason for wanting to keep their kids’ skills sharp over the summer. But a lot of the tactics out there to sell extra learning to our kids are based in appealing to our fears that we aren’t doing what’s best for our kids, or giving them every opportunity to succeed. Don’t even get me started on the definition for success! That’s a rabbit hole, for sure. The older you get you realize the most valuable commodity you have is time. And success? Well, it’s not what you thought it was.
Look, (this is the time in blogs I say, “look”), I learned a long time ago not to judge other parents. If you want to give your kids a workbook or sign them up for these classes in the summer, have at it. Really, what’s the harm? I, too, have succumbed to the pressure of keeping up the Jones and have bought a summer workbook. Luckily for my kids, I suck at following through and the workbooks collected dust while I enjoyed my sweet summertime mushy-brained kids.
I’ve tried to keep my philosophy about education simple. I have wanted, and have tried to foster, two things for my kids academically: One: a curiosity about the world. And two: for them not to hate school.
Plus…a 30% attrition rate is the only way I can stay smarter than a 5th grader and kick their asses in Trivial Pursuit with the small percentage of crap I have actually retained over the years.
To the joy of summertime mushy-brained kids!
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