In a TED talk Sir Ken Robinson, Author and Educator, points out to children being naturally creative but we educate them out of it. He goes on to explain through a story that children are not afraid of being wrong, of making a mistake. His take? You cannot be creative if you want to play safe, which is what we educate them to be. Kids stop being creative because we educate them to be safe!
How true, I thought to myself, that we want our children to be safe rather than being who they are meant to be! The words with which we bombard our children daily are: Don’t do that you will get hurt! Don’t touch that you will get hurt! Don’t jump from there you will get hurt!… We inculcate in our children a mentality of fear of hurt, that they learn to protect themselves, first! We teach and train them to play safe!
We inculcate in them a culture of fear and then when they grow up, we complain that they are not risk takers! We nurture cowardice rather than fearless experimentation, then we crib that they don’t achieve anything! We kill their creativity and then reject them for being mediocre! We train them to play safe and then target them for lacking talents or the will to challenge the norm! We program them to be afraid of taking up challenges, then weep when they commit suicide! We adapt them to being so afraid of social stigma that they fear to be pioneers and pathbreakers! We teach them to play safe when we should be training them to take risks and break routines!
We inculcate a horror of being a stand-alone that they are afraid to break the mold to walk in freedom! We have boxed them with our insecurities rather than teaching them to think outside-the-box! We make them mindless robots sticking strictly to routine rather than imaginative researchers who delight to explore! We have cut their sprouting wings making them chickens rather than eagles that were born to fly. We want them to play safe around our feet rather than fly high and far and wide!
We need to blame ourselves for their lack of enterprise, for we have fostered in them a culture of education rather than an OS of adventurous creativity!
Don’t get me wrong, for I am not talking of lawless breaking of rules nor being a rebel of society. I am advocating instruction in ingenuity and creativity rather than confining safety!
If Edison had worried about playing safe, he wouldn’t have invented the electric bulb after ninety-nine failed attempts! Every inventor and explorer battled adversity before achieving their goal. We who laud their fulfillment forget that self-actualizing success doesn’t attract the fickle-minded but the beautifully bold!
I think of the One Who set the example the most by being unconventional and unorthodox. – Jesus Christ the Champion of the marginalized! He went about getting the captives free by tearing down confining walls, breaking out of boxing fetishes, challenging the norm and the normal. In His bid for freedom to all, He consistently broke down barriers, went past social stigmas and ruthlessly beat down the opposition as a true Liberator. Je ended up on the cross because He refused to play safe!
He never bothered being under attack for being singular, but even taught His followers to be so by life and example. His one word to the one disciple wanting to step out of the boat was a simple ‘come’. He encouraged Peter in his impetus impulse rather than stop him from adventuring into the unknown. The One Whose Word lists 365 fear-nots, one for every day, gave his apprentice a lesson in boldness. On the strength of His word, Peter walked in the water that day, experiencing a thrill that no one before or after him had, singling and signalling him to be a leader. Real leadership crowns the atypical rather than the fainthearted or those playing safe!
Paeidia, from which comes the English word Encyclopedia, is the Greek word for education. Paeidia should be to fit our children for what they have been created to be, fitted for and equipped to accomplish rather than teaching them to fear. Life should be taught as being a gift of, in and for exploration and adventure!
Education or Paeidia should be for instruction in self-actualizing rather than in playing safe!