Parenting Einsteins While not Providing Flying Saucers
It is not that the understanding of administrators, teachers, parents, and others have been totally off-base regarding the mechanisms of education. More specifically, they relied subconsciously in earlier history and more consciously in recent history on a common package of information being presented in the home. Parenting is the key.
Parenting & The Saucer Example
My favorite example is what I call the Saucer Example. The Saucer Example is an uncomplicated way to explain the difference between one household’s familiar contexts and another’s. The Saucer Example presents the story of two children who each drink tea in the morning prior to school. Parents heat up water in a kettle, utilize tea bags, and allow the tea to steep. The difference is that one parent provides a tea cup and a saucer. The other provides a coffee mug only. A teacher asks both children to complete an order of operations assessment expecting that both drink tea each morning and therefore understand the exercise. The correct answer involves first placing a saucer, second placing a tea cup, and third pouring the tea. The second child who receives only a coffee mug fails the assessment always placing the saucer last as a container for cookies.
In the Saucer Example, the teacher relied on the training the child received in the home to undergird the education that was provided. The child who failed was not wrong, but the failure was recorded nonetheless.
The common definition of intelligence is another facilitation issue challenged through multiple interventions in our educational institutions. Social and Emotional Learning, Multiple Intelligences, Learning Styles, Emotional Intelligence, and other interventions seek to explain that there is more to arriving at the answer than knowledge of the right answer. The challenge is clear to the trained eye. The connection between the social, the emotional, and the answer is not always articulated and used as rehearsal.
I call this example Einstein’s Elevator of Education Experiment. Einstein has several thought experiments attributed to him. One of which begins by stating, “Imagine you are floating in a box, unable to see what’s happening on the outside.” It continues, that if you suddenly drop to the floor, you would not know whether the box is speeding upward or whether gravity is causing it (and you) to fall downward. The result is the same, and therefore Einstein concludes that gravity and acceleration are the same.
In my Einstein’s Elevator of Education Experiment, we proctor tests, and set our children afloat in a social elevator. We focus on the right answer as the validation of our teaching, their intelligence, and the value of our system. Yet, if we test regularly and dismiss the students that perform poorly, those that are left perform well and validate our assumption that our education is sound. We trust the test and never ask whether it was the test, the education, the parenting, or some other input. We saddle the child with the responsibility for their performance.
In this setup, those that receive support, encouragement, and tutoring outside the institution have a better chance of success. The institution is testing and assessment and gatekeeping. It is not developmental. Testing and education become the same thing. It is bad enough that the art of teaching is lost, but worse that teaching is even in question. Teaching was never synonymous with learning. Learning is a separate action. And, we have not reflected upon development yet. Other social and emotional opportunities are also-rans, not integral to the process of learning and intelligence.
Hopeful Parenting Interventions
I recognize that some interventions exist to address this, but we must also acknowledge how lost they are in systematic implementation integrating social, emotional, and the answer. Common core seems to want to force multiple intelligences rather than support variation and individualization of learning. Character education seems to bully the bullies (i.e. Say you’re sorry!), promoting tattling (i.e. admission of a lack of self-efficacy) rather than promoting empathy. And, other examples exist.
I argue that the problem is an unclear understanding of the connections between wisdom, character, creativity, and genius. We want them all as parents. Yet, we and the adults we entrust may never have been systematically schooled in the connections we seek to support in the development of our children.
Short answer: The connection is a logic model beginning with wisdom, to character, to creativity, to genius. I call this logic model New Genius. New Genius is the foundation of the Genius ID.