Seeking Balance with Academics

When talking to young people, I keep hearing the same thing. They are stressed with academics and they feel their life is only school. I had a girl ask me about what I like to do, when I mentioned cooking she said that she had always been interested in cooking, but that she didn't feel like she had the time to learn because her life revolved around school. I find it sad. How can children grow up to be successful if they only learn academics? In order to be a responsible adult one needs to know how to take care of a home, do laundry, cook, etc. Some of these things take a longer time to learn than others. We need to eat three times a day. We need to wear clean clothes everyday. These are not things that we can manage through life without doing. It just made me think about where we put our values as a society. Why is feeding the mind the only important thing? Because of the belief that an education will make someone successful. Yet, if all a child has done is school how could they have had the time to get to know themselves and truly explore what they would like to do? Every year, thousands of people graduate with degrees they don't want to use. However, while they were in school they couldn't figure out what they were wanting to do. 

There has to be room for balance. Kids should be encouraged to cultivate their hobbies and to see living as their number one priority instead of academics. I used to live in an area where homeschooling was rampant. The kids that I would meet that were home schooled were so different from the ones in regular brick and mortar schools. They had the time to explore other things and to have hobbies. I would meet kids that other than school were working on side projects. I met one child who discovered he liked business and started up his own business. By the time he was 18, he had the ability to be completely financially independent. I knew another child who discovered she really enjoyed animals, all kinds, but she specialized in dogs. She learned how to train dogs and would be a part of dog competitions. She also learned all about taking care of dogs and grooming them. At 15 years old, she had people seeking her out to help them train their dogs. I have numerous other stories like this. These kids had the time to find out what they were passionate about and had the time to pursue it. By the time they were adults they were years ahead of their peers because they had long been working toward something. Some home school kids decided they wanted to go to college because they needed it to get further in what they were doing, but others realized they were already doing what they enjoyed and could make a decent living. 

I don't think this has to be a public school versus home school issue. It is simply a cultural issue. We need to shift in our view of what is important. Academics alone will not create caring, responsible, and independent adults.  Academics can be a good tool, especially if the path one has chosen requires a degree, it just shouldn't be the end all be all. It shouldn't be looming over kids heads as the most important thing, sacrificing relationships and time better spent on hobbies that could lead to greater things. 

August 28 2016