If you park outside at night (like I do), I’m sure you ran your windshield wipers a time or two this morning to clear off that first little accumulation of snow we’ve had this fall. You can thank a Birmingham, Alabama woman named Mary Anderson – not for the snow, but for patenting the first “window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window”, on this day in 1903. (Unfortunately, her patent expired before the idea caught on, and she never made any money from her invention.)
Different viewpoints, same conclusions.
As you’ve probably realized, I pull in articles and insights from everywhere. Of course, every author writes from their own experience, but it’s uncanny sometimes how people with vastly different perspectives on education come to similar conclusions. This article was a case in point – while it was written from a homeschooling parent’s perspective, I was quite literally able to post it to our Facebook page with just a single edit to better explain a key belief that we hold here at Imagine!, namely, that high school should be an opportunity to begin living life, and not merely preparing for it.
“There is simply life”
The story was about a 10 year old girl, and the question adults love to ask all kids (I think they just don’t know how else to make conversation) – “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Her daughter’s answer was brilliant: “A baker, but I already am one.” Is this just the naiveté of a child who has helped in the kitchen a few times, or is it an accurate answer? Kerry writes:
Baking brings my daughter daily joy and fulfillment while also helping to nourish her family and friends. She writes a baking blog, sharing her recipe adaptations and advice. She reads cookbooks, watches cooking shows (The Great British Baking Show is a favorite), talks to other bakers–both adults and kids–to get ideas and tips. She learned this all on her own, following her own interests, and quickly outgrowing the library children’s room cookbook section to the adult aisles.
She has unlimited access to the kitchen. She has abundant opportunities to visit the library and explore the Internet for real and digital information to help her in her craft. Her work is also incredibly valuable. I have never made a pie from scratch but she makes them all the time, bringing them as frequent desserts to gatherings and special events. The market price for her delicious, seasonal pies would be steep.
A [traditionally] schooled child, who might bake just as much after school or on weekends, likely wouldn’t answer in the same way. Most children have accepted that “‘real life’ starts after. It starts after all the tedium, all of the memorizing and regurgitating, all of the command and control.” While we can certainly have future goals and ambitions that we work towards – such as scaling up a talent for baking to become the means of earning one’s living – the young baker’s reply rejects the artificial separation between “preparing for life” and “living” that we have baked (!) into our educational mindset.
What if instead of focusing on after, we focus on now? What if living, and learning, were synonymous? What if instead of segregating kids from the real world during school, we actively encouraged opportunities that meaningfully include them in it? What if “our job is not to prepare our children for who they will become, but to help them be who they already are”?
My daughter is a baker because she bakes. She is also many other things. To ask what a child wants to be when she grows up is to dismiss what she already is, what she already knows, what she already does. Will she always be a baker? It’s hard to say. Will I always be a writer? I think so, but who knows? Will any of us always be who we are now?
Thanks for reading. Do you know someone who might be interested in Imagine!, especially for 9th grade next year? Please ask them to fill out our Enrollment Interest Form!