The past month has been a whirlwind. Its been a fantastic month of work for the Art of Education. Between TV interviews, talks, workshops, school visits and many consultations, I have connected with over 200 parents this month, visited 10 schools and spent countless hours reading, summarizing key ideas for thirsty parents. Needless to say, I have had little time to pause. That said, I have tried to check-in with myself, reflect and breathe, sometimes while driving in the car, in the shower, while sipping my morning coffee, I have checked my gut and I have received only one message: The life we so wish for our children is their's to live.
School choice is often situated in the larger landscape of laying out a future for the child. Parents cannot but help cast their eye forward with hope. It is so hard not to wish for a happy, successful, fulfilling future. Deep down in the gut there is a longing, a vision of an outcome, a look and feel for a life that is right in some way. And while we parents cannot but help cast an eye to the future, I have come to realize that, really we cannot ever control that future. Like Steve Jobs said, "you cannot connect the dots forward, you can only connect them backwards."
We get seduced into making predictions. We see a future and then feel like we can lay out a path towards it. We even get the real, tangible feeling that we can do something about it all. If you are a person who needs evidence, you might even want proof for what I am saying. Listen to the Freakonomics podcast on The Folly of Prediction. The best of predictions have a 50% chance of working out. Experts are the worst at making those predictions.
Every time I feel like I have figured my son out, he goes ahead and does something completely unexpected. Every time I create a plan for the future -- be it the next week, month or months, it rarely works out the way I imagined it. And when I force it to work out the way I want it to, I find myself in conflict with my child. I waste away our today in hope of a future. Over and over when I feel sure, life tells me I can never be.
So, what do I do, as a parent, an educator, an education coach? I let go. I create the space in which my child can thrive today. I coach parents on creating an environment that is accepting. I invite them to inspire their children by being their own best selves. Today, not tomorrow. I coach parents to choose a school based on who their child is, not on who he should become. I accept that my child has truths I will never know and that his greatest work is to live out his truths. I may get to witness, understand and possibly participate in his truths but mostly, I get to create the space, often together with him, in which he gets to live them out.
It is the only thing I can do with sureity. It is the only life-affirming act I can perform. It reminds meof something Sir Ken Robinson said in his TED Talk Bring on the Learning Revolution. In quoting W.B. Yeats and adding his own ideas, he said, "I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. And everyday, everywhere our children spread their dreams under our feet and we should tread softly."