Ok I admit the title is a little click bait-ish but I want to talk about is something that concerns me as a business coach but more so as a mum. Modern day schooling is not preparing our kids for life as business owners or entrepreneurs. There are four reasons why I’d rather my kids played computer games than go to school and I’m going to tell you what they are.
What we’re not teaching our kids
Firstly, before I get wild abuse from school principals, teachers or the education department, rest assured my kids have gone and still go to school. I know teachers are amazing and work incredibly hard under very tough conditions. Most of my kids’ teachers have been amazing. I’ve had dozens of clients over the years who have been teachers and I know what a tough job they have.
This is a problem of the modern schooling system in general. I believe there are so many skills which kids need to learn to become the entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow. They’re not being given enough of an opportunity to learn and nuture these skills in school. I see my kids going through school in a structure that looks and feels unchanged since I was at school, and probably since my grandparents and great-grandparents were students.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Despite reports which tell us the millenial generation will have approximately 17 employers and 5 careers in their life, modern schooling is still set up to force kids to think about choosing ‘what they want to be when they grow up’.
We’re still schooling kids in subjects which have little to no relevance in the real world and we’re not schooling them in vital skills they need to take charge of their own future. Kids are moulded to be employees instead of employers. We’re teaching them how to get a job, instead of how to start a business. We’re teaching them they must fit in, instead of teaching them how to stand out.
Here are the reasons why I’d rather my kids played computer games than go to school.
1. Schools are teaching kids that they’re either intelligent or not, rather than teaching them which types of intelligence they have.
We’re still focused so heavily on academic intelligence as if it’s the only measure of success. There are so many other areas of intelligence other than academic intelligence. In 1983 an American developmental psychologist Howard Gardner described 9 types of intelligence.
My kids are unbelievably intelligent, yet they’re not great at spewing facts they’ve learnt over the year in a 3 hour exam. They’re weak in linguistic intelligence, just as I was. Along with mathematical intelligence, these two types of intelligence are held up by the schooling system on a pedestal as the only two types of intelligence that matter.
We’re still focused so heavily on academic intelligence as if it’s the only measure of success. Click To Tweet
So many other kids are in the same boat. When I watch my kids play their computer games. I witness their incredible aptitude for problem solving, innovation, creativity, reasoning and computer skills. At school, they’ve felt inferior on so many occasions. My youngest used to tell me how dumb he was at maths. In fact he is incredibly talented with numbers and spatial reasoning.
While playing their computer games, they’re confident and highly skillful. They’re constantly achieving. It’s like they’re propelled into a world which shines a bright light on what amazing, talented human beings they are.
2. Schools are teaching our kids to be employees, not entrepreneurs
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was nine years old when I used to charge classmates at school to solve their Rubik’s cube for them. What a great repeat customer business that was! Since then, I’ve had numerous businesses. I love entrepreneurship and I encourage my kids all the time to think like an entrepreneur.
My eldest son finished school not long ago and my youngest is in the final few years. I don’t believe anything they’re learning or have learnt at school is teaching them about entrepreneurship or how to start, build or run a successful business. The school itself is great and the teachers are incredible. The problem is the structure and content of what they have to cover to satisfy the curriculum requirements.
Many of the world’s most brilliant minds and successful and creative entrepreneurs have been school dropouts. Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk. These are names our kids know. If school is so necessary to help our kids become leaders, how is it that these people have gone onto become some of the world’s richest and successful entrepreneurs without completing traditional schooling?
3. Schools are teaching our kids that failure is to be avoided at all cost
At school, kids learn failure is a bad thing and something to avoid at all cost. They’re told they mustn’t fail. If they fail, they’re told they didn’t achieve what was expected. Sometimes they’re even punished with detention. They’re made to feel like they didn’t try hard enough. They’re taught failure is a negative.
You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. - Richard Branson Click To Tweet
While playing computer games, my kids learn failure is useful. They fail and fail and fail and the more they fail, the better they get. In failure, they learn. Failure is a teacher. Failure doesn’t stop them, it pushes them forward. It’s not something to be avoided, in fact the more they try and fail, the more success they have.
They fail and fail and fail and the more they fail, the better they get. Click To Tweet
I tell them to fail their hearts out. When they come to me and tell me they failed at something, I ask them what they learnt. I encourage them to assess what went wrong and to research a solution so they can improve next time. Failure is their biggest and best teacher. Every time they fail, they simply learn another important lesson to help them in the future. Failure needs to be encouraged. Kids need the opportunity to embrace the process of trial and error over all other types of learning and not be made to feel as if they have not achieved when they get things wrong.
4. Schools are teaching our kids they must all learn the same content in the same way.
There’s always something new around the corner to explore and learn in the gaming world. If there’s something that interests my kids, they’ll give it a try. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t. If it doesn’t interest them, they don’t waste their time. They move on to try something new until they land on a project which really feeds their interest and passion. I’ve watched them commit to one particular game or franchise for years on end. Then there’s been other games they’ve played once and never bothered to touch again.
At school over the past two years, my youngest has had to endure an entire years curriculum in subjects which he has absolutely no interest in. He had such little interest in these subjects, he was acting up in class and getting into trouble because he was so disengaged and uninterested.
How can a teenager be funneled into such a narrow pathway at such a young age? Click To Tweet
While I understand the need for kids to learn the basics; writing, reading and basic mathematics, I think there are many more life, financial and business skills which our kids are not being taught. They should be learning about financial management, savings and investments. They need to learn about how much they need by way of a deposit to buy a house. Kids need to learn about compound interest, cost of living and utilities. They need to learn how to sit an interview, how to conduct an interview and how to write a business plan. They need to learn about balancing bank accounts, taxation, the difference between revenue and profit and investment and expense.
I want to teach my kids to pursue a life they love. Life is too short to spend it doing something which drains the life out of you. I want to teach them how to take control of their own lives instead of being trapped at the mercy of the employment cycle.
This generation are going to have careers which haven’t been invented in industries which don’t even exist yet. They have the potential to create new businesses we can’t even imagine yet. They need to learn broad skills they can apply to any aspect of their life and any career they might end up in down the track.
If you’ve made it this far, I assume you can relate to some of the points I’ve raised throughout the article. Either that or you’re so infuriated by my suggestions you couldn’t stop reading! Either way, I don’t mind. I’d love to know your thoughts, whether you agree with me or not. I must conclude that at times, my kids obsession with their computer games drives me crazy. But then I see how much passion they have, I see the valuable skills they learn and I figure there are many more worse things they could be doing with their free time.