This really caught my attention and I found myself contemplating what life would be like if we gave ten year olds the opportunity to apprentice with a master in the field of their choosing.
I thought about what I was like at ten. Introverted and observant, I was more comfortable with books than people. I had an ongoing monologue in my head that turned all of my observations of the world into stories.
And I still do. My ten year old self knew what I wanted to do with my life, and twenty seven years later I'm still "trying to figure out what I really want to do" because I can't shake the message that I got as a kid that "nobody makes a living as a writer" and "to be successful you have to stay in school".
Through middle school and high school I was forced to spend a little bit of time on a lot of different subjects so that I could take tests that proved that I had sufficiently memorized what has largely turned out to be a lot of useless information.
But what if I wasn't forced to learn all that stuff? What if I were given the opportunity to apprentice with a master instead? If at ten I was encouraged to pursue my true passions and taught how to make a living doing what I enjoy, I think I would have been a lot happier throughout my life.
But instead I suffered through years of misery trying to do things I wasn't good at and didn't enjoy because that was how our education system was set up.
And that terrible system hasn't changed. A quarter of a century later my son is complaining to me that he doesn't understand why he's being forced to learn stuff he doesn't enjoy and can't see using in real life. It's hard because as a parent I'm supposed to support his teachers, but often I find myself agreeing with his assessment.
Why are we still forcing kids to learn useless information? Kids growing up today aren't allowed to focus on their subjects of interest until college, and even then they often are forced to take general classes until their third or fourth year. And we wonder why so many people are lost and unhappy, pursuing careers they don't enjoy because they don't know what they really want to do, when most of them probably did know once, before it was educated out of them.
I'm not suggesting that we completely stop teaching multiple subjects after fifth grade, but I do think we need to reevaluate this broken system. It was designed for an industrial age when we needed lots of workers to do basic tasks that required very little creativity, ingenuity or passion. That time is dead. We need fully evolved human beings with as much creativity and ingenuity as possible. Not only for the general happiness of the population, but in order to evolve quickly enough to survive as a species.
Imagine what your life would be like if your passions had been encouraged and nurtured throughout your schooling. What would that look like? Let's create that world together. It might be too late for our childhood selves, but it's not too late for the kids that will usher in the future. Let's make it happen.