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Teaching Kids to Succeed by Minding Their Own Business

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Guiding our kids to the way out of the rat race

One of the things about Twitter is that you can spark a conversation with a few short sentences. Author Glennon Doyle did just that when she posted this tweet:

It’s an important question packaged with just the right punch. And it struck a chord as well. Read the responses and you’ll see how fed up people are with our education system.

“They go to school to learn to take tests.”

“Answer: Unschooling?”

“Break free”

Schools don’t truly educate our children

I’ve written extensively about my distaste for the education system. Primarily I don’t think that schools teach our kids how to thrive in the modern world and they’re geared to make great and compliant employees, not risk-taking innovators.

I also don’t think they prepare our kids for financial success. The state of financial education in our school system is horrible. At best they learn how to save money and balance a check book. They in no way teach what I would consider true and lasting financial education.

There is another way

Glennon Doyle asks if there’s a better way, and I believe there is. I believe to get kids off the “hamster wheel”, or as I like to call it, the rat race, we need to teach them to mind their own business.

Starting early in life, most people are programmed to mind other people’s businesses and make other people rich. It begins innocently enough with words of advice like:

  • Go to school and get good grades so you can find a safe, secure job with good pay and excellent benefits.”
  • Work hard so you can buy the home of your dreams. After all, your home is an asset and your most important investment.”
  • “Having a large mortgage is good because the government gives you a tax deduction for your interest payments.”
  • “Buy now, pay later,” or “Low down payment, easy monthly payments,” or “Come in and save money.”

The road to nowhere

The people who blindly follow those words of advice are often on the road to Financial Nowhere. They often become:

  • Employees, making their bosses and owners rich
  • Debtors, making banks and money lenders rich
  • Taxpayers, making the government rich
  • Consumers, making many other businesses rich

Instead of finding their own financial Fast Track, they help everyone else find theirs. Instead of minding their own business, they work all their lives minding everyone else’s.

This is the heart of Doyl’s question around dooming our kids to work themselves sick at every level, from school to college to work, just to benefit others ultimately. What makes this the rat race is that it seems like it is the road to success. They look around at those they perceive as successful, like lawyers or doctors or CEOs, and think they must emulate them. So, they work their fingers to the bone from a young age in order to achieve the high-paid employee status. But it is not the road to success. It is the road to nowhere.

Teaching kids to mind their own business

In order to counteract the “road to nowhere” lessons that kids learn in school, we need to teach them to mind their own business. By this I mean that we need to instill in our children an entrepreneurial spirit that inspires them to think for themselves, innovate, and take risks.

This is the “unschooling” they would need.

This would start with encouraging a different kind of “smarts” than school smarts. Smarts that are focused on flexibility and being nimble. Smarts that teach kids how to adapt and change to quickly different circumstances. Smarts that include tenacity and pushing through adversity. Smarts that embrace risk-taking and failure as part of the learning and growing process.

It would also teach kids to be “rule breakers” in the best possible sense. Because it’s usually the rule breakers, or as Apple called them, “the crazy ones,” who change the world.

Original publish date: September 18, 2018

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