Trying new things

Another round of insightful words from Seth Godin…

Seth’s talking here about how, until quite recently, most people only did what their parents did; chose what their parents chose.  We lived in the same place, ate the same food, planted the same seeds (literally and figuratively).  Only recently have we stepped into a realm of seeking out things that we think might improve our circumstances.  And when most of us do that, we look around to see whether anyone else has tried it yet before we take the leap.  The phenomenon of early adoption – the curious cocktail of courage and discernment it takes to try something before others have tested it out – is fairly small.  When things spread (ideas, products, choices) it’s usually because the early adopters have demonstrated that it’s OK to jump in.  They’ve tested the waters and then shown that it’s safe to come; the water’s fine.

I’m wondering what it will take for people to feel as though the water’s fine when it comes to making new and different choices about education and learning.  I’m not even talking about taking big steps (like choosing not to send a child to school).  I’m talking about an earlier step, of seeing that a child is not thriving, and then saying to one’s self “this isn’t working; what might my other options be?”  Before we have any real hope of repairing, dismantling, or replacing the broken system we have now, we’ll have to arrive at a place where most people feel safe in that realm of inquiry.

It’s helpful for me to be reminded of how relatively new this worldview is – in which so many things don’t have to stay the way they’ve always been, in which it’s possible to choose something new just because you can imagine that it might be an improvement upon what you inherited. And how much it takes to demonstrate that something new, especially in a highly charged realm like education, might not only be possible and viable but potentially better, potentially safer, than what we inherited.

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One Response

  1. Like most things with our kids, our own willingness to do the same of whatever it is we want them to do (like try new things) is hugely helpful.

    When we took our son out of school two years ago, we had lots of conversation with him about why it took us so long to realize trying out homeschooling was worth doing. He knew it was a tough/scary choice for us to make and then he saw that it turned out well for all of us. It was worth the risk. (maybe it wouldn’t have been worth the risk and then we would have learned something else, hopefully that risking is the only way to find out what doesn’t work too).

    This weekend my husband pulled out his guitar after ten years of not touching it and I started playing the piano again (and singing, something I’ve not done in front of anyone for decades). Our son watched and then was eager to get his hands on both guitar and piano. He has said “no thanks” repeatedly to offers of music lessons. But he was willing to join us as we stepped into our own trying something “new” (at least new since he was born).

    Heading straight for the things that most scare us is starting to seem like pretty good advice most days.

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