For a while now some people have been making vast amounts of money by selling educational products – mostly electronic or battery operated. The implicit promise being that success in school (or with computers et al) will somehow transfer to all round success in life.
The thing is, all those academic products depend on the child getting ‘IT’ right. And real life’s not like that. Real life is about problem solving, communication, creativity; it’s about persistence when things go wrong; it’s about negotiation and working with what we have to hand.
Our back-yard looks like some kind of lumber dump. We have half-built huts, half-destroyed boats and Craig’s tools are scattered from here to kingdom-come. We have toys which have been taken apart…”so we could see how they worked, Mum,” and more bike parts (mostly rusty) than the average bike store. The inside of the house is a lego inspired replica. No-one seems too bothered when things go wrong – or not for long anyway: the next plan is half hatched; modifications thought of; or it’s a good time to eat. And they complete many projects too. Last spring it was a boat. It took about two weeks to build. We took it, and their teenage mate R, to a nearby lagoon.
I haven’t heard either of the older two say they’re bored in the last three years. But it’s not idyllic. It’s messy and often inconvenient. Sometimes it’s a down right pain.
So if you’re talking academic products or electronics, our children are deprived; if you’re talking products which truly help intellectual development, they’re kings. For Christmas the toddler is getting some pegs and a box of nappies (for the box), and the older two are getting their own tools, tarpaulins and some lego each – and very big water pistols…it is summer after all.
(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :))