Wednesday, January 27, 2016
I'm partial to those rules, because they affect how each of us make first impressions. First impressions affect how we build friendships and business networks.
But there are a lot of other rules in our society, too. They revolve around sitting patiently and waiting for a prescribed portion decided by someone else. They revolve around being able to describe your idea in 12 words or less. 13 words is a failure, regardless of the idea. Then, of course, there is the standardized testing. Sigh. Those rules work well in a society where everyone can be upwardly mobile "if you just play by the rules and use some good old elbow grease." But it's clear to me that we don't live in that society.
The middle class that built those rules 70 years ago is evaporating over a burner of 15-year stagnated wages matched to a 30 year, order-of-magnitude increase in college costs and a 300% increase in the cost of living. Note that I chose my words carefully in the previous sentence. A middle class still exists, and a stronger one (of some sort) will emerge in due time. But this one, and its rules, are relics. I'm not convinced that our middle class will be saved by giving every student a STEM education. And I'm a career biologist.
So I will praise the bouncy (outdoors), the unruly (playing pirate with his friends), and the boundless, impossible questions like, "What comes after outer space?" and "if no one has a body in Heaven, who fixes things?" And "How can I get to the future faster than every second?" The boy could be a fireman, a surgeon, a playwright or an infantryman. If he is disrespectful to people in his life, or he never learns to listen, of course, none of these positive things might happen. But I'm not sure they necessarily will by arbitrary compliance.
Let kids be free. Today's docile student - afraid to even walk near the lines we've created for him or her - simply isn't a great recipe tomorrow's revolutionary thinker - whether it be in the field of commerce, art, science, or law. Having impeccable manners is good. Describing ideas that are so big and bold that no one else can understand them, while having impeccable manners, is even better.