> engagement, which research shows are the foundation of effective education and happiness in life. Above all, this outmoded system teaches us to obey—not to innovate or think independently. When it’s time to graduate, we celebrate the end of learning! We should be celebrating the mastery of skills that will allow us all to continue to educate ourselves throughout life.
CULTIVATING MENTAL HEALTH Is it any wonder, given how we’re teaching and parenting, that kids end up depressed and anxious, completely unprepared to face the normal challenges of life? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a quarter of 13 to 18 year olds in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders. A 2016 study from Brazil reported that almost forty percent of adolescent girls and more than twenty percent of adolescent boys suffered from common mental disorders like anxiety and depression. A survey conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that among participants between the ages of 14 and 15, more than fifty percent reported regularly feeling “sad or unhappy,” and almost half reported feeling “restless.” This epidemic is universal, and it should be a call to action for us all. There is a better way. We’ve made parenting into an incredibly complicated, unintuitive endeavour, filled with fear and self-doubt. We’re stressed out because we’ve become slaves to our children’s happiness. We’re worried that they won’t make it in this highly competitive flat world that we live in. We get upset when they don’t yet know the alphabet but all the other kids seem to know it. We are the ones who are creating this frantic, overly competitive world for our kids. In truth, parenting is really quite simple—as long as we rediscover the basic principles that allow children to thrive in homes, in schools, and in life. Through my decades of experience as a mother, grandmother, and educator, I’ve identified five fundamental values that help us all become capable, successful people. To make it simple and easy to remember in all walks of life, I call these values “TRICK”:
TRICK is essential to functional families, and it’s also the solution to the challenges we face in education. The most effective classrooms are founded on trust and respect, encourage independent thought, and include project-based collaborative learning that mimics work in the real world. The ultimate goal of TRICK is creating self-responsible people in a self-responsible world. This is what we’re doing as parents, teachers, and employers— not just raising children or managing classrooms and boardrooms, but building the foundation of the future of humankind. We’re evolving human consciousness, and we’re doing it faster than ever before.
MORE INSPIRATION READ How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results by Esther Wojcicki (£16.99 Penguin) EXPLORE Find Esther online at raisesuccessfulpeople.com
TRUST, RESPECT, INDEPENDENCE, COLLABORATION AND KINDNESS TRUST: We are in a crisis of trust the world over. Parents are afraid, and that makes our children afraid—to be who they are, to take risks, to stand up against injustice. Trust has to start with us. When we’re confident in the choices we make as parents, we can then trust our children to take important and necessary steps toward empowerment and independence.
RESPECT: The most fundamental respect we can show our children is toward their autonomy and individuality. Every child has a gift, and is a gift to the world, and it’s our responsibility as parents to nurture that gift, whatever it may be.
INDEPENDENCE: Children who learn self-control and responsibility early in life are much better equipped to face the challenges of adulthood, and also have the skills to innovate and think creatively. Truly independent kids are capable of coping with adversity, setbacks, and boredom, all unavoidable aspects of life. They feel in control even when things around them are in chaos.
COLLABORATION: Collaboration means working together as a family, or in a classroom, or at a workplace. For parents, it means encouraging children to contribute to discussions, decisions, and even discipline. In the 20th century, when rule-following was one of the most important skills, parents were in total control. In the 21st century, dictating no longer works. We shouldn’t be telling our children what to do, but asking for their ideas and working together to find solutions.
KINDNESS: Parents love their children, but they are so familiar with them, they often take basic kindness for granted. And they don’t always model kindness as a behaviour for the world as a whole. Real kindness involves gratitude and forgiveness, service toward others, and an awareness of the world outside yourself. It’s important to show our kids that the most exciting and rewarding thing you can do is to make someone else’s life better.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 thegreenparent.co.uk