The more effort we put into trying to shape children into model citizens, the more one thing becomes clear, the techniques we are using to teach our children how to be the kind of adult we would like them to be are not effective enough to change the trajectory of “modern” society.
In spite of the altruism and amazing effort of most of the participants, the goals of most of these programs present the biggest obstacle to success.
We know how to teach an amazing array of skills, but we learn our most important life skills in a much different way than we learn math or language but that is not the focus of educational institutions.
Educational systems are mandated to teach the basic skills factory workers need such as reading, writing, math, but most importantly, subjugation to authority, and learning not to cause problems. Public education systems are not designed to produce either thinkers or functional human beings.
Granted, there are enormous economic rewards for some in doing so, but the net result to a culture is the creation of a trajectory that leads to the kinds of problems we are seeing. But there is a reason that happens.
Adult behaviors only change when the environments in which they are living change. Jean Twenge’s landmark study, and the follow up study of young people in the USA since the late 1930s detail the results of a sustained effort to create masses of docile, predictable consumers and workers. The studies sound an alarm we all should heed.
Her studies show each successive generation has had poorer life skills, more anxiety, stress, depression, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.
This trajectory has produced fewer and fewer functional adults. This is leading to more and more cultural problems and eventual disaster.
The values and life skills that have made our species successful have been abandoned. Collaboration, cooperation, and coordination have been replaced with competition, conditioning, and consumerism.
The demands of the infrastructure, dictated by the most aggressive competitors, disregard the basic needs of human beings, and in doing so preclude the possibility of creating a sustainable and equitable culture.
The children whose life skills we are trying to change so they will not cause the rest of us so much discomfort and expense, are actually no more at risk than the rest of us. The only significant difference is a matter of degree.
We may have better skills for controlling our anxiety, angst, and anger than they do, but our life skills are not enabling us to create lives of peace and contentment. Our relationships are not working, our choices are creating more problems than solutions, and our emotions are out of control.
If teaching life skills were a simple matter of directed critical thinking, we would not have the scale of problems we have today. We know how to teach critical thinking skills.
If that skill was an effective solution, WE would use critical thinking skills to solve OUR own personal problems, and all would be well.
But it obviously doesn’t work that way, does it?