Sunday, March 20, 2011

School Detox

Sometimes I just blather my ideas while driving my 14-year-old son to and from school and to various activities. All I require of him is an occasional grunt to let me know I'm on the right track.

"Seems to me adults are afraid that if they tell kids to learn what they most want to learn, they'll choose to learn video games."


"But I think it's not the case. First of all we wouldn't be telling kids to do whatever they want to do, we're telling them to learn whatever they want to learn."


"And it shows a deep distrust of kids that we think they are so absolutely not to be counted on to do anything more interesting than play video games."

"I guess so."

"So it seems to me what we need is a kind of 'school detox.' A period of time when we establish trust and kids learn they really no longer have anything to rebel against. That the school will provide a way of letting them learn what interests them most. And if it is video games, I can think of good ways to learn stuff connected with them right off the top of my head."


"But it's distrust of kids that makes people think that all they will ever be interested in given the choice is video games. In order to establish trust we need to be worthy of it. That if we let them follow their noses that their noses will lead them places that even adults will think worthwhile."


So there it is: my theory of trust has the Eli Seal of Approval.


  1. I don't think it's just distrust of kids; I think it's a projection of the adults' minds onto the kids. The assumption is that adults don't want to work either, and if given infinite choices they'll just become Homer Simpsons and sit on the couch eating potato chips all day. The idea is that nobody "works" unless a gun is pointed at their heads.

  2. Great insight. That's a new avenue of thought for me.

  3. Eli, ha ha! That was very funny, I can just picture him. Usually however, he would have much more to add to this conversation. It is possible he has heard this before? Just a guess:}

  4. He usually does have more to add. We talk about this stuff all the time. He is analytical, insightful, and observant. This time I was too busy talking to let him get a word in edgewise. Yesterday, however, we had a good conversation on the lessons kids need to learn in order to be able to engage in cooperative learning. Then he respectfully asked me not to talk about him on his blog anymore. Sigh!

  5. Regarding Liz's comment, I read a book called "Punished by Rewards" which says our culture tells us not to do anything unless there is a reward or a punishment involved. It takes time to detox from that kind of inculturation. It's a great book. My 14-year-old daughter read it, too, and enjoyed it as much as I did.