Published by Lori Pickert on November 7, 2009 at 08:28 PM

Here’s a Twilight Zone-type premise for you. What if surgeons never got to work on humans, they were instead just endlessly in training, cutting up cadavers? What if the same went for all adults — we only got to practice at simulated versions of our jobs? Lawyers only got to argue mock cases, for years and years. Plumbers only got to fix fake leaks in classrooms. Teachers only got to teach to videocameras, endlessly rehearsing for some far off future. Book writers like me never saw our work put out to the public — our novels sat in drawers. Scientists never got to do original experiments; they only got to recreate scientific experiments of yesteryear. And so on.

Rather quickly, all meaning would vanish from our work. Even if we enjoyed the activity of our job, intrinsically, it would rapidly lose depth and relevance. It’d lose purpose. We’d become bored, lethargic, and disengaged.

In other words, we’d turn into teenagers. — Po Bronson, Why Teenagers Are Growing Up So Slowly Today, on his book NurtureShock

Adolescents are actually two people in one — a regressed child and an emergent adult.  For too long parents and experts alike have concentrated on the former to the detriment of the latter. — Michael Riera, Field Guide to the American Teenager

We place kids in schools together with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other kids typically from similar economic and cultural backgrounds. We group them all within a year or so of one another in age. We equip them with similar gadgets, expose them to the same TV shows, lessons, and sports. We ask them all to take almost the exact same courses and do the exact same work and be graded relative to one another. We give them only a handful of ways in which they can meaningfully demonstrate their competencies. And then we’re surprised they have some difficulty establishing a sense of their own individuality. — Joseph and Claudia Allen, Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old


Comment by Lynn on November 7, 2009 at 08:57 PM

Loved this, Lori. More! More!

Comment by Arwen on November 8, 2009 at 12:07 AM

This reminds me of my nephew (14). For the last few years he has raised sheep for 4H. He loves his sleep. They are all he seems to think about and talk about. People think he's weird for being so interested in his sheep, but really, it's the one part of his life that's real, meaningful work.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 8, 2009 at 01:47 AM

hi lynn! :D

arwen, i assume you mean in contrast to schoolwork? :^) that's a great example!

my older son turns 13 in two weeks. i can hardly believe it. he is a smart, funny, well-read, interested and interesting person. i think that respecting and supporting children’s interests when they are young segues naturally into respecting and supporting teens and young adults — *their* interests. not only do we fill most teens’ lives with things they don’t care about, but we don’t get really interested in the things they do care about. to my mind, there’s too much knee-jerk dismissal of computers, music, etc., and not enough recognition that these are the things kids can use (their real, deep interests) to begin doing serious work of their own. and skills learned while doing that work transfer to *everything*.

Comment by Arwen on November 8, 2009 at 02:21 AM

Yep. Not surprisingly, he's not a big fan of school. Watching him has made me wonder more and more about high school and whether we (and they) wouldn't be better off training teenagers to be productive members of society rather than making them sit in classes all day. Sure, math and English and history are important, but if they're just sitting there not getting anything out of it anyway...

Of course, if they had a good foundation in those subjects before they hit high school, it wouldn't be a big deal. That's not going to happen. Not in this system, anyway.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 8, 2009 at 02:56 AM

my 12yo loved history from the time he was 6 and did a year-long history project, and now he is really into politics. these interests pull in everything else effortlessly. and the more he communicates with other people about what he cares about, the more he cares about his own general education — so he can be part of the big conversation.

i know i’ve used this metaphor before, but it really is the difference between pushing a heavy boulder uphill or simply rolling it downhill. i don’t have to coerce or threaten or require him to learn anything — his intellect is in full gear and he’s the one driving.

can institutionalized education differentiate enough to allow kids to follow their interests and *be* individuals? school feels like something that is done to you rather than for you.

Comment by Kristine on November 8, 2009 at 05:05 AM

That's a really perfect analogy. I think it's true at all levels of learning not just teenages. You watch that insatiable urge of a baby learning to talk or crawl They are driven by the purpose - to follow Mum, to reach a toy, to communicate. I think that motivation shows an interesting insight into their blossoming personality. It also shows that when the motivation is their they don't need to be taught or 'made' to practise.

Comment by Arwen on November 8, 2009 at 12:17 PM

I recently read a paper on homeschooling that put a lot of new thoughts into my head - so many that I haven't been able to organize them into posts yet. One of the big ones was that maybe we would be better off, as a society, if we went back to the days where it was the norm to homeschool, and only the really deprived sent their kids to public school.

Unfortunately, the way things are going these days, I fear we will move in the opposite direction and it will become more and more difficult to make our own parenting decisions, like whether to homeschool, if we're not careful.

I was going to put this in the open thread the other day, but I was having trouble replying, and I never had a chance to go back and try again. Maybe sometime in the next couple of months I'll be able to read that paper again, read some other things (like Holt, Gatto, and Moore), gather my thoughts, then pick your brain a little.

In the meantime, viva la revolution!

Comment by Arwen on November 8, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Oh, and you know, I think this doesn't just apply to teenagers, although they are probably at the climax of it. One of the things I have come to appreciate most about Montessori is the practical life portion and the idea that children are naturally drawn to real work and the satisfaction of taking care of themselves and their environment. (not saying Montessori has a monopoly on this idea, just that that's where I have become familiar with it) Maybe if education involved a little more real work from the very beginning we would find more satisfied, willing to learn students.

Comment by Barbara in NC on November 8, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Honestly, I think those comments could apply to children of any age, really. We do this weird thing of emphasizing independence basically from birth, but infantalizing kids when it comes to actually honoring the independent person that is emerging. i.e. Adults know what's best, but aren't available to have real relationships with you. Don't be too attached to your parents, but do everything they say!

I used to teach middle school and high school, and it struck me that the kids were desperate for adults that they could have authentic relationships with, adults who would actually take their interests and passions seriously.

It seems that as long as institutional education is about giving kids skills (and as a side note, only the better schools do that--more often, kids are memorizing information that they will forget and never even getting to the skills piece--but that's another topic entirely!), it's hard to imagine anything but the most alternative places (Sudbury-ish kind of schools) giving kids the freedom to explore whatever they want and trusting that they will learn what they need. Which may not include algebra or American history.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 8, 2009 at 01:43 PM

thank you, kristine.

arwen, i’m looking forward to hearing those thoughts when you get them organized. :)

and — arwen and barbara — i agree completely, this isn’t about teenagers. to me, this is a natural extension of the things i talk about here: helping children find their meaningful work, helping them explore their interests and develop their talents, helping them acquire good habits of mind … kids can’t be denied these things and then expected to hit the ground running when they’re 18. it’s a process that should be lifelong!

barbara — “Adults know what's best, but aren't available to have real relationships with you.” — yes, yes, and this reminds me of those studies that come out every year saying that the thing teens want most is more time with their parents.

i think most teachers i know would point out that they don’t have enough time to simply cover the material they’ve been assigned, let alone do a project, let *alone* explore the diverse interests and individual personalities of 25 different children. school could be different (revolution!), certainly — and it could change in ways to allow more differentiation. but this support and help has to come from home. and i believe home has to put school into perspective. if it isn’t providing everything our kids need (not even close), why does it monopolize so much of our time and attention?

Comment by Sarah Jackson on November 8, 2009 at 03:09 PM

I don't even know where to start with this one. I have a sophomore in college, and I could write volumes on this subject. Lindsay did have a passion in high school, and was able to follow it, but frankly, that was lucky. She happened to be enrolled in a class at a new high school that really clicked with her, and she has gone on to continue her education and ultimately a career in that field.

The class that opened up her world was a media production class, which seems to be the only semi-vocational class that is acceptable in a "good" high school (because entrance into the field usually requires a college degree). Why do we no longer offer or encourage shop and woodworking and practical electronics/technology classes and auto repair classes that teach kids real skills and help them enter the world in a trade they enjoy? Where are the internships and apprenticeships that should be alternatives to college for those who want and need an alternative, regardless of income level and socio-economic class? Where are the parents who advocate for having many available paths within the school system to a productive life?

Okay, I could write for hours on this, and how parents infantilize their college bound children. but I'll be quiet now.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 8, 2009 at 04:09 PM

don’t be quiet! :^)

there are several issues here, as you point out. exposure to real-life skills, exposure to a variety of different career opportunities, a smooth transition from school to work.

in some sense, i think we could start a revolution just by changing our collective mindset and accepting that school isn’t a be-all, end-all solution to preparing kids for adult life. changing our priorities to a more balanced, whole-life perspective and allowing personal interests and out-of-school time more importance, more respect, and more resources.

why do scores matter so much to parents? if parents had an expectation that schools would teach basic skills during the 7 or 8 hours they have kids every day — leaving after-school time free for family, friends, and personal interests — and cared more about their child’s well-rounded happiness and ability to do the things s/he needed/wanted to do, what would happen then?

Comment by estea on November 8, 2009 at 05:10 PM

GREAT quotes

from the link below

“in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement."

sarah, this (and the comments that follow) may interest you:


crawford's book is great, btw, and not just for us manual labor types ;)

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 8, 2009 at 08:29 PM

estea, i love that quote! i’ve heard a lot about crawford’s work .. maybe we’re seeing a trend?

Comment by Sarah Jackson on November 8, 2009 at 08:39 PM

Thanks, Estea - I loved that article and the book. It really hit home after we had traveled the high school path as Lindsay's parents and were so dissatisfied with what was available to kids in terms of genuine experience. We're working hard to create a different environment for the rest of our children, as well as advocating for more independence and meaningful work for all children.

I do believe that it has to start with parents - both in letting go of test scores and college admission as *the* measure of success, and in providing kids with real experiences. Most importantly, we need to let our children experience failure and recovery from failure. If they can't experience failure within the safety net of their own home, then how will they react to it in their adult life? I believe that we have taken away authentic experience from our children because we are afraid to let them fail and learn from it. In our minds, the consequences are too great and long lasting for them to handle. I just don't think we give our kids enough credit for what they can do and be and achieve if we just give them a genuine opportunity to do it.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 9, 2009 at 12:01 AM
Comment by Kristine on November 9, 2009 at 06:27 AM

Barbara's comment "We do this weird thing of emphasizing independence basically from birth, but infantalizing kids when it comes to actually honoring the independent person that is emerging." is exactly what I see in schools. In pre-primary kids (3.5 - 5.5.years) are expected to be independent and self contained. They are expected to grow up quickly and conform to school behaviour but they are also given the responsibility of choosing (to some degree) what to do, when to do and who to do it with. Then they reach the formal primary years and they are expected to do as they are told. Then even further down the track those that conform most are rewarded by being selected to be part of 'extension groups' that are taught how to be independent.
Basically schools want children to be independent only when it suits them.

Comment by marta on November 9, 2009 at 11:28 AM

In my country homeschooling is not an option: although not ilegal, it is practically un-heard of. The couple of people I've known (from the net, on the news) who do practice it are either in the middle of nowhere leading a very alternative kind of life or in the middle of nowhere leading a very alternative kind of life but complying with the law and handing in all assignments, tests, drills, what-have-you to the local education authorities. (ie, doing school at home and not exactly doing whatever feels right for them)
I think my family might be prepared to homeschool if it were an accepted way of life - with a community, with resources and with true freedom.
Given our reality, we send our 3 kids to school (1 in pre-K, the others in Elementary - all in the same, charity school). It's a nice school, no homework, around the block, etc, no problem with that... But, still, it is a school. And I wonder about what being there, 7 hours a day, five days a week, for roughly 8 months per year, will do to their independence and creativity. I like to think they're some of the most creative, independent thinking kids I know - and people compliment me on that (as if!) so I'm not completly alone in this ;) - but I am sure that if they were homeschooled they would be far more independent - the time available would make all the difference.
We don't do any after school activities apart from swimming twice a week (they've done it since they were 6 months, we're a maritime country, we spend 4-6 months going to the beach, etc). They usually choose to do stuff with their neighbourhood buddies (no one from their school!), so our weekends and vacation time are full with kids+parents from the neighbourhood going some place together...
So, my question is (I am sorry if this sounds like as if I'm asking for a recipe): how can we foster their authonomy/interests/creativity during this "free" time?
Or, more to the point, how can we make the case for the interests they pursue outside of school are as important as the ones they do at school? Because whereas they know they have to finish schoolwork (in school, as I said they don't get homework), they never seem to finish any project they're engaged with at home - cartoons, stories, legos, making their beds, setting the table - and jump from one to the other to the other... and this during the summer vacation as well, when they had 3 months of non-stop time for themselves... I mean, what should be their concentration level at a thing that does interest ,and is started off by , them (not counting the housechores here ;) )?

Marta from LIsbon, Portugal

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 9, 2009 at 01:19 PM

kristine, great point. i know exactly what you mean. in the same vein, they want students to master basic skills but only so they can apply them to their homework and tests — there’s no time for kids to become self-motivated by working on their own projects.

the kind of independence that the average public school fosters is too narrrow — it’s focused on the ability to get work done without direct supervision, not thinking for yourself or going your own way.

marta, that question is exactly what i discuss in this blog. :^) get thee to the archives!

re: how to support .. here’s one post:


but all the project-based learning posts should be useful.

“how can we make the case for the interests they pursue outside of school are as important as the ones they do at school?”

do we have to make a case for it? to me, it’s simply a decision — a perspective that we choose to take. we believe that what they are pursuing outside of school is at least as important as what they are doing at school — then we begin to pay attention to it, support it, learn from it, facilitate it, etc.

you seem to be asking how do we make *them* (the kids) see the work as being equally important. i think we do this by investing ourselves in it. when they see us paying attention, getting them materials, making them space, and documenting their work, we don’t have to *say* “this is important” — they *know*.

re: never finishing, this is where your support can help gently pull them back. if you highlight their work by providing space and materials and, most importantly, your attention, they will be much more likely to return to it and keep extending it. you can ask them, what do you need? what are your plans? how can i help you? and eventually you can ask them, are you done with this? are you satisfied? is there anything left you still wanted to do?

more here:


and let me know how it goes!

Comment by marta on November 9, 2009 at 02:22 PM

Thanks, Lori, I will peruse the archives!!!!!!!

Yes, I was referring to them, the kids, when speaking about the importance of schoolwork vs the importance of anything they do outside of school. The fact that they get the ocasional test (with grading marks) means, to them, that schoolwork must be more important. I want them to aknowledge what they already feel - whatever interests them is important - regardless of grading marks...

My role as a facilitator has been a bit more inconstant in the past year (I have a part-time-at-home job with deadlines, and sometimes am a bit stressed...) and I guess it also depends on how enthusiastic I am about each of their projects ... It's not that easy to let go of what feels right to US and embrace what feels right to THEM ;)

I will keep you updated on their projects... Right now the oldest (9 yo) is constantly drawing monsters he invents and detailing their features (brains, limbs) both with finer, zoom-in like drawings and lists of characteristics. But he gets the papers lost, is interrupted by the younger siblings, etc, and what could now be almost an encyclopedia of imagined creatures are half-finished scattered papers from the couch to the bathroom and back... I guess I will start by getting him a special binder :)

I love your blog!!!!!!!!!!

Marta from Lisbon

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 9, 2009 at 03:07 PM

i think parents have a tremendous influence on how children gauge the importance of their various activities — and how important their success/failure is.

i think, as i was saying up above, that if you put your attention, time, resources, etc., behind their personal pursuits, that is a clear (and influential) message that those things are very important.

re: being an inconsistent facilitator … that’s most of us, right? :^) we’re human; we can’t be “on” 100% of the time, we can’t always do our best. that’s an important lesson to pass along, too, i think — realistic expectations! :^)

re: different amounts of enthusiasm depending on their projects … i think that is natural as well. with small children, you can choose to support work that you yourself find interesting — and that works best. but as kids get older and determine their own interests and projects, sometimes it *is* difficult to get interested in what they’re working on or see its value. but … i find i never lose interest in the kids themselves. :^) and my job is really to support them, not choose their interests, after all. so i concentrate (say, with my turning-13yo) on admiring his passion and intellect and supporting him in whatever way i can. i know that it’s the work itself and the way he is developing his intelligence, communication skills, research skills, knowledge of himself, etc. etc. etc., it will serve him well no matter what he wants to do in the future.

re: helping the 9yo organize his materials, a dedicated space is invaluable. check out this post — there is some great information in the comments:


and thank you! :^)

Comment by Arwen on November 9, 2009 at 08:32 PM

I just read some of the article estea linked to. I remember being under the impression growing up that white collar, "thinking" jobs were the most desirable. I have learned over the last few years that those blue collar, hands-on guys actually make a whole lot of money in many cases. For example, my husband is a degree-carrying geologist (not that he really carries around his degree - you now what I mean). Often the miners and mechanics he works with make more than he does (and his salary is not exactly meager). Do you know how much truckers make?

If I had the brightest child in the world, and he said, "Mama, I want to be an auto mechanic," I would say go for it!

Also, the seamstresses I used to work with would tell me, "No matter what happens, the world will always need people who can sew."

Comment by Sally on November 10, 2009 at 02:27 AM

What a wonderful post! Great to see you writing again.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 10, 2009 at 02:37 AM

thank you, sally! :^)

Comment by Cristina on November 10, 2009 at 03:06 AM

I knew I should have commented sooner! I haven't had time to read through all of the comments, but from what I have read, I'm recognizing a lot of the principles Sir Ken Robinson touches on in his book, The Element. The first part is similar to his speech from the TED talk series, and it is so relevant to what teens (all children and adults, really) go through in life while trying to find their passion.

I've been holding my breath watching my 16 year old, and wanting to guide her to college because that's what everyone expects, but at the same time wanting her to find her passion. I'm hoping this book helps. It's hard to avoid falling into the school pattern when they are older. You hope they will be independent, but at the same time my only experience is my own--public school, a year off (my father hated that), college, job I hated until I had kids, and then (finally) my passions of being a mom, homeschooler and now full circle back to my artistic roots.

I'm trying to give my daughter the room to breathe that I wish I had had after high school. I'm letting her explore even as I'm loosening the reins with my younger two. We don't know what kind of job market it will be when our kids get out into the world. But whatever they do, I want them to be happy with their choices. I think that finding their passion is the only way you can have a sense of individuality.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 10, 2009 at 03:18 AM

cristina, i just put that book on my library list! :^)

i agree — our passions are what make us unique — how we express ourselves doing our deepest, most meaningful work.

i would not be disappointed at all if either of my sons decided not to go to college; i am always telling them that they could give themselves an incredible education — plus fund a business when they were through — for the same money! when i think of even the reasonable amt i borrowed to go to a state school and imagine how i might have spent it traveling, reading, taking classes, apprenticing… sigh.

if they decide to pursue a career that requires a college degree, of course, i will support them. :^)

i have so, SO many friends who went to school unsure of what they wanted to do with their lives and got a degree *then* figured out it wasn’t what they wanted to do … so they returned to school for another degree. too much wasted time, and i think it’s caused by kids who at 18 have experienced so little of the real world, discovered and/or explored so few of their own interests, met so few people with really different lives/careers … what use is education that is just random and not purposefully chosen/personally crafted?

Comment by Kelly Coyle DiNorcia on November 10, 2009 at 11:57 PM

This is a great excerpt! I had never really thought of it in those terms before, but it's the perfect analogy. Bravo, I love this blog!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 11, 2009 at 01:19 AM

thank you, kelly! :^)

Comment by Lisa on November 11, 2009 at 09:31 PM

Brilliant! Throw in endless messages of how cool sex, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs and even single parenthood are [thanks Hollywood] and it amazes that ANYONE can grow up today! I read somewhere [sorry no idea where!] that we used to only have two types of people: children and ADULTS. We've lost that somewhere. I notice too that people today want only EXACTLY what they want. Example: back in the day [early 80s] when I got an apartment I got cast offs. When my niece's husband got an apartment his parents bought him a houseful of inexpensive new furniture, paid for cable tv and got him a new car. When he totaled the car being stupid, they bought him another. WHen I totaled my first car I took the bus! With only one memorable exception, all of my friends (and our parents) had experiences like mine!

Comment by Jess on November 12, 2009 at 08:06 PM

Thanks for the great post!!!

Comment by Alice on November 13, 2009 at 09:53 AM

(For the mother in portugal)
I live in Italy and homeschooling is fairly rare here too, plus your children have to sit a yearly exam. She also chose to be in school.
My daughter is eight and I am trying to find that delicate balance between finding space for her interests and finding time for schoolwork. I started out by putting grades into perspective by saying that all children are intelligent but school is only going to let one of them be first of the class.
Whenever she is sick, or on holiday, I try and provide her with art materials and books that foster her interests. During the school year I try and find links between her interests and her schoolwork. I try to widen the work they are doing at school by providing alternative material and filling in the gaps (they don't do much art or creative writing so I try and get her to do those around the themes they are doing at school - last time she was sick, for a whole week, we did autumn drawings, poems, etc to decorate the house). At school they are studying myths - my daughter is reading about egypt in her own time - so I found her some egyptian myths. I know it will enrich her schoolwork as well as open more windows into learning (making her own connections).
I agree with Lori thatc children know that their interests are important if you take the time to listen to them and offer to buy the materials they need, conserve their work, include their interests in family life...

Comment by Anne Thrall-Nash on November 13, 2009 at 06:48 PM

This brings back all the memories of high school. I HATED being told how smart I was, how much potential I had, and then having no support and no options for really applying and developing my passions. It always felt to me like they were chaining me up until some future, arbitrary day when I could use all that potential. But I really wasn't clear on when that might happen. It was seriously detrimental to my motivation to continue learning anything.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 13, 2009 at 10:58 PM

thank you, jess! :^)

thank you, alice, for your great comment.

anne, that is exactly what i believe — that children are always being told to wait for the future to start living their lives, when their lives are worth living today.

Comment by Deb on November 14, 2009 at 02:42 PM

Great article! My own teenagers are independent people, I often wonder if they would be as unique and purposeful if they had to go to school.

Comment by marta on November 16, 2009 at 01:59 PM

Hi Alice (Mom in Italy), thanks for your comment!

Yes, I know what you and Lori are talking about and I do it with my children too.
But when children go to school they have a) less free time and b) know there is a distinction between "drills and grade work" in the classroom setting and imaginative, free, "follow your interests" work.

And somehow, because of a combination of the two, they tend to be less focused on the free work... at least from a "drills and grade work" classroomsetting point of view.

And this is what I am learning to accept, really... and it is not very satisfying, I must admit, because more and more my husband and I agree that the only reason we send our children to school is for social reasons - to fit in the society and continent (I would say this is a very European thing, but not so much outside of Europe) we live (and want to live) in.

It's a trade off kind of thing. I guess in America (and mostly in the developed world outside of Europe) the life motto is more "find your true self- society as a whole is just a mass"; in Europe is more "society must be inclusive and you have to fit in, despite all differences". This sheds a light in our educational systems vs the New World education systems and options, I think.

Alice (I guess) and I just want to make sure our contribution (as parents) isn't overpassed by the massive educational system and that our children, despite being inside the "machine", develop to be unique, happy and free.

It is not easy, but it is worth fighting for and (I hope) immensely rewarding.

Thanks for the opportunity for babbling so much ;)

Marta from Lisbon, Portugal

Comment by Jen on November 16, 2009 at 08:16 PM

Can I just say. Amen! Thank you.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 22, 2009 at 03:25 AM

Sometimes I read a blogpost that just leaves me nodding my head in absolute agreement, with the thought, "That is SO spot-on, and well-said...YES YES YES!" That's how I feel about this one! I am homeschooling my 2 high school sons, one who is college-bound for engineering school, and the other who is apprenticeship-bound and on track to becoming an organic, pasture-based sheep farmer! Both are following their God-given passions and leadings. You might enjoy the soon-to-be-sheep-farmer's story on my blog over on Homeschoolblogger. It's a 6 part tale of the way we discovered and then followed the path we've been on, and is titled, "I Wish I Could Go To A Farm."
Thanks for sharing this post...it was really excellent!

Comment by Jessamyn on December 3, 2009 at 04:34 PM


Have you read the book Brain Rules by John Medina? If you haven't I think you might like it...:o) It is a fascinating book about the brain. I think goes well with project based learning.:O)

Hope you are doing well! Please let us know when your book comes out:o)

Comment by Anne Thrall-Nash on December 8, 2009 at 10:03 PM

OK, I was able to spend some time with my husband's nieces, 14 and 16, over Thanksgiving. They are beautiful girls, intelligent, polite, pleasant to be around. They both do very well in school. However, neither one of them will read amything outside school, they have no hobbies outside Facebook and texting, don't seem to have much to say about the world. And the oldest is basing her college choices and career aspirations on what can make her wealthy fastest. When asked why she doesn't study something she really has an interest in, she looked at me like I was crazy. She couldn't come up with anything she enjoyed learning.
All I heard all weekend was "they really do so well in school" Like as long as they get As everything is fine. The over reliance on public school grades to evaluate the state of a young person's development seems extremely short sighted to me. Seems like it could definitely lead to 18 year olds that can't do or make anything, or find out how to do either. Scary.

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