Let Them Take Risk’s

I have, in several blog posts, talked about the destructiveness of helicopter parenting and the link I see between that and our current millennials. This incessant need for parents to protect their children from anything and everything that could possibly be harmful has imprinted on this latest generation a need to either shout down or have banned things that make them uncomfortable or that they don’t like. This can be seen almost every day on the news, read in the papers, or heard on the radio. The term snowflake is usually applied to those in this generation that exhibit these tendencies.

To me, it is a problem of parents not allowing their children to take risk’s, to feel uncomfortable, or to make mistakes. We live in a country where it is frowned upon to keep score in children’s sports league’s, where children going barefoot is weird, and children barely spend time outside. Parents, terrified of being labeled a bad parent, don’t let their kids push their physical limits. They are not allowed to climb tree’s as high as they can go, run around barefoot, play in a creek, or even play outside without helicopter parents deriding the parents or calling child protective services. This has forced many parents to tow the helicopter parent line so they don’t invoke the wrath of other parents or the State.

Children have a drive, a very interesting one, to be outside and to be pushed to the limits physically. It helps build an internal structure that these children can rely on later in life. This pushing of physical limits allows the child to know their limitations and gain confidence in themselves. This is crucial for the development of the child and taking these risk’s and playing outside tend to lead to a better academic achievement. Children who never test their limits will grow to be timid, and fearful later in life. Those who have overbearing parents like this may also not develop the ability to think for themselves, push themselves intellectually or question what they are told by the prevailing “authority”. This is dangerous for those who value liberty as it brings up a generation who are incapable of resolving conflict, thinking independently, or the ability to handle uncomfortable situations without throwing the equivalent of a tantrum.

As an experiment, go to the park and watch how many parents let their children free play. How many manage their children, prevent them from doing certain things or taking risk’s that pose no real threat to the health of the child?

My wife, children, friends of ours, and I were at the park this morning and our children were playing in a man-made water feature and there was another child there. She obviously wanted to play like our children were playing and her parents prevented her. No judgment about that, I do not know her specific circumstances, but I found it interesting that when she laid on the ground to stick her hand in the water, her father held her to make sure she didn’t fall in. This child was at no real risk of falling in by the way she was laying but her father saw fit to protect her from what little risk was there. I found it telling and a good example of millennials and the up and coming generation after them.

It should be an interesting time watching as the millennials and the next generation comes of age.

What about you? What do you think? Are parents giving their children enough free play outside? Should we let our children take risk’s or should we continue to shield them? Comment below and share if you enjoyed the article!

How the Left Learned to Love States’ Rights

Post originally appeared on Mises.org, By 

Over the course of approximately six hours, the Left in the United States made a spectacular, 180 degree turn on federalism and states’ rights without even recognizing it. Although this lack of self-awareness shouldn’t be particularly surprising coming from the modern Left, which seems to have missed the irony when it goes about shutting down debates on free speech.

I’m old enough to remember when the Tea Party was making hay about nullifying Obamacare and Rick Perry even floated the idea about Texas seceding from the union. Not surprisingly, the Left was rather opposed to such antiquated ideas.

Rachel Maddow referred to talk of nullification as “confederates in the attic,” Chris Matthews described it as the “terms of Jim Crow” and Princeton professor Sean Wilentz referred to the doctrine of nullification as “the essence of anarchy” and “neo-Confederate dogma.” I’m sure nullification and states’ rights are also sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic, but these are short segments so they had to be concise.

Apparently, we were told, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution stated not just that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land,” but also “that this includes any law, no matter how blatantly unconstitutional passed by Congress or executive order issued by the president or signing statement or edict from an unconstitutional bureaucracy made of unelected administrators as long as it’s part of the federal government.”

Then all of a sudden, on November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump beat out all the predictions and won the presidency. Suddenly, states’ rights became rather appealing to the Left (and lost their allure to much of the Right).

The rallying cry for the Left so far has been “resistance” and that includes more than just protesting in the street. The Hill notes that “In blue states, agenda is clear: Resist Trump.” The New Republic ran an article titled “10 Ways to Take Trump on” and item number 3, written by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is “Look to the Cities and States.” He notes,

We’re not a monarchy. We’re a representative democracy, so we have agency, we have a voice. We have the ability not just to navel gaze, but to act, to be engaged — to resist. We’ve got to dust ourselves off and step up, and not just roll over and act as if we don’t have a very potent role to play in our democracy, particularly at the city level … if he does try to build a wall, there is legislation in California to challenge the administration, by requiring the construction of the wall to be put to a vote of the people of California.
In other words, Newsom will recommend nullifying a federal order with a state referendum.

And the whole Calexit movement would quite obviously be much more similar to the secession of the southern Confederacy (hopefully without the war) than Britain leaving the EU. Yet liberals seem to be rather silent on this obvious point. If Calexit succeeded, it would also be the virtual end of the Democratic party in the United States, but that’s another matter.

Indeed, nullification in everything but name has been tried or successfully used on all sorts of issues such as gun laws and Real I.D laws and a host of issues most liberals generally support, such as marijuana legalization and sanctuary cities, which we shall return to shortly.

Indeed, in the mid-nineteenth century, many states, particularly Wisconsin, nullified the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and, as Tom Woods notes,

New England states … appealed to nullification (or interposition) against President Jefferson’s embargo, against what they considered the unconstitutional calling up of the New England militia during the war of 1812, against the use of military conscription, and against a law providing for the enlistment of minors.
American history is littered with examples of nullification. Obviously not all were for good causes, but many were. Fortunately, some liberals, such as Kirkpatrick Sale and Jeff Taylor recognized this prior to sometime in the late evening of November 8th, 2016.

If this point isn’t obvious enough, a thought experiment regarding the reason liberals generally dislike federalism, that I put forth in my review of Tom Woods’ book Nullification, should clear it up,

Let’s say it was the federal government that had mandated segregation and not the states. Do you believe for one second that Martin Luther King Jr. would have opposed states nullifying that particular federal law? Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to crush segregation and I find it patently absurd that he would neglect a non-violent method of doing so if the situation had been as described.
I think it’s safe to say that it was less the how (other than nonviolence) and more the what that civil rights activists cared about.

And the same goes for secession. Indeed the United States wouldn’t even be a country if it weren’t for secession! In addition, Eastern Europe would also still be a collection of Russian satellites and much of South America would still be part of Spain, etc. And now that the Left has finally embraced states’ rights, at least that puts them on the opposite side of that Adolf Hitler guy many liberals like to accuse others of literally being,

National Socialism must claim the right to impose its principles on the whole German nation, without regard to what were hitherto the confines of federal states …
And pretty much every other totalitarian dictator agreed with Hitler on that matter.

So federalism and localism are critical to a free society in general. But let’s return to the present and the whole matter of the so-called “sanctuary cities” that thumb their nose at federal immigration law. Indeed, even the conservative Helen Rittelmeyer observed that “In the absence of a federal solution, state and local governments have begun to take matters into their own hands. This may be a blessing, too.” The reason being that, “If cities wishing to drive illegal immigrants from their communities have the freedom to do so, then it follows that those cities wishing to draw illegal immigrants into theirs must have that freedom, too, within the bounds of the law.”

But one should look even further than Rittelmeyer’s “nullification for both sides” concept then just immigration. Perhaps neither liberals nor conservatives have gone far enough with their federalism.

Right now the United States is extremely divided and growing more so with every passing day. There are massive differences of opinions between north and south, the coasts and flyover country, urban, suburban and rural and regarding race, religion, and political beliefs.

Pew notes that “Democrats and Republicans [are] More Ideologically Divided than in the Past.” And it’s not just politically divided, Republicans and Democrats are becoming far more geographically divided as well. Over the past 40 years, Republicans and Democrats have moved to communities of more like-minded people. According to Bill Bishop in The Big Sort, “… [in] 1976 … Just over 26 percent of the nation’s voters lived in landslide counties [counties where one party won by 20 percentage points or more] … By 2000, the number had risen to 45.3 percent.”

And it’s only gotten worse since then.

The average New Yorker has much more in common with the average Londoner than the average person in Topeka, Kansas. Other than language, the same would probably go for Berlin, Madrid, or Paris as well. We may all be part of one political union, but it’s hard to make the case we’re all part of one country.

Perhaps it’s time we looked to localism instead of Washington. Perhaps it is time to ask whether 320 million people should be governed by one swamp on the East Coast.

April Fools Day is coming. Prank your friends opening a never ending fake update screen on their computer. Sit back and watch their reaction.

Now Even Recess Must Be “Structured”

few years ago, recess was on the verge of extinction, crowded out by high-stakes testing and concerns over potential injuries or schoolyard bullying.

Recess, however, has come roaring back in popularity as parents and teachers have realized how essential it is to the growth and development of children.

Yet in spite of this resurgence, there are indicators that experts are still hijacking this essential component of childhood. Exhibit A of this problem was recently explained in a Wall Street Journal article entitled, “Does Recess Need Coaching?” According to the article:

Schools across the country are revamping recess.

Some have it two or three times a day in shorter increments. Others bring in recess coaches to facilitate games. Many now have activity zones—all to encourage more physical fitness.

‘Sometimes kids may be out for recess but they’re not being active,’ said Michelle Carter, senior program manager of SHAPE America. ‘So if you have zones with different activities and such, it encourages more participation.’ Students are given choices of activity zones.”

On the surface, the idea of structured recess sounds like a good thing. After all, we’re letting kids have recess once again because it’s good for their mental and physical health. If they’re not maximizing this opportunity, why not help them?

But as Professor Anthony Esolen explains, it is this mentality that has killed childhood play and imagination in the first place. In his book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, Esolen explains:

People will blame indoor amusements, and certainly that’s a large part of it. Television comes easy and deadens the brain. Electronic entertainment, too, is solitary and follows strictly delineated patterns. But that’s not the whole of it, for we must remember that the premise of our educational system is that children need to be socialized into a managed world. We talk a great deal about independence, but we loathe it as much as we loathe the blessed freedom of nothing to do. Children no longer play because we have taken from them the opportunity and, I’ll insist, even the capacity to play. And this, if we want to kill the imagination, is an altogether healthy thing.”

It has become a common complaint that today’s young people are no longer turning into capable adults, who can function, create, and thrive on their own. Is it possible that we have created such a problem by continually training them to operate in structured, adult-directed environments, even in something as basic as daily play?

Originally posted on Fee.org

My Unschooling Experience

Caitlyn Scheel is a current Praxis participant. This piece was first posted on her blog.

I have always been an extremely independent person. A side effect of this has been that even as a child I was vastly more self-directed and always had a more entrepreneurial way of approaching school. After a summer of trying to convince my parents to let me be homeschooled I was finally taken out of the public school system a few weeks into eighth grade.

For the past two and half years I’ve been a self-directed learner and this experience allows an intellectual flowering that would not have been possible in the public school system. I’ve been granted the freedom to explore my true interests and passions. Not only have I discovered them, but because I’m not learning to pass a test I can pass over aspects of a topic that are not applicable to my life goals. Being able to learn as I go has shown me that I don’t need to know everything about building websites upfront. I can and should just run with an idea and learn what I need as I need it.

Both my parents are college graduates. It was never “are you going to college?”, but where and once I started self-schooling it turned into “how soon are you going to college?” I never really saw college as a continuation of my intellectual growth but more of a pause from entering the workforce and starting my life. All I wanted was to get the piece of paper that everyone said was necessary for success—I wanted it as cheaply and quickly as possible. I wasn’t looking forward to the experience but neither did I question it or look for an alternative. That is until I attend a seminar put on by the Freedom of Economic Education on entrepreneurship.

It was at this seminar that I was fortunate enough to hear T.K. Coleman, the Education Director for Praxis, talk about the power of the individual and how you don’t need permission from other people to do what you love. While this idea of getting out of the permission-based mindset and just creating started to sink in, it wasn’t until I talked with TK and Derek Magill, the Director of Marketing for Praxis,that I realized that college was just another layer of preparation that wasn’t wholly necessary.

From that conversation with TK and Derek, I realized that the approach I was was taking with my high school education could just as easily apply to my career. I didn’t need to learn everything there is to know about marketing (ignoring the fact that a large percentage of what I learned would be obsolete by the time I graduated) before I started marketing. Studying the particular aspects and skills that I need for my particular projects and applying them as I learn them would give me a more practical level of knowledge in a shorter amount of time. Given that I was learning in a real, authentic setting, my skills were directly applicable, and therefore more marketable than if I had learned in a passive, hands-off college course.

I decided against college before I chose to do Praxis because I saw it as an enormous waste of energy, money, time and my own potential. I chose Praxis because I gain tangible, practical and marketable skills. I’m not going to college because it would be damaging to my creativity and discovering what makes me come alive. I’m choosing Praxis because the community alone pushes me to move towards the best version of myself every single day.

College is stagnation. Praxis is growth.

And I’m choosing to continue growing.

Caitlyn Scheel

This post appeared on Discoverpraxis.com

How School Crushes the Child’s Natural Love of Learning

When you pick up an orange you feel its texture and weight in your hand. You breathe in scent emitted by the brightly colored rind. If you’re hungry, you peel and section it to savor piece by piece. A fresh orange has phytonutrients, fiber, minerals, and vitamins that promote health. And it tastes wonderful.Conventional education separates learning into thousands of measurable objectives and has very little to do with a child’s hunger to master a particular skill.

It’s possible to purchase the separate nutritional components of an orange. You simply buy vitamin C, vitamin A, flavonoids, B-complex vitamins, fiber, potassium, and calcium in pill form. Of course replacing an orange with supplements is ridiculously expensive compared to the cost of consuming the fruit itself. And isolated compounds don’t work as effectively in the body as the whole fruit. Besides, where is the sensation of biting into an orange bursting with juice? Lost. Divided into a fraction of the experience.

Imagine being told in your earliest years that pills were superior to food and should replace it as often as possible. Even if handfuls of supplements were deemed more valuable than food by every adult in your life you’d still clamor to eat what you found appetizing. If meal-substitution pills became mandatory for children once they turned five years old, you’d never relate to food (or its replacement) the same way again. The body, mind, and spirit reject what diminishes wholeness.

Don’t argue. Just take it.

How Not to Learn

Yet that’s an apt analogy for heavily structured education, where learning is set apart from the threads that connect it to what has meaning and purpose for the learner. Conventional education separates learning into thousands of measurable objectives. It has very little to do with a child’s hunger to master a particular skill or thirst to pursue an area of interest, in fact such appetites tend to interfere with institutional requirements. It’s not designed for the whole child but aimed at one hemisphere of the brain, doled out in pre-determined doses and repeatedly evaluated. The most gifted, caring teachers are stuck within systems that don’t acknowledge or understand natural learning. In fact, most of us believe, however grudgingly, that schooling is necessary for learning without recognizing that damage is done.

What children do is intrinsically tied to why they do it, because they know learning is purposeful.

For the very youngest children, learning is constant. Their wondrous progress from helpless newborn to sophisticated five-year-old happens without explicit teaching. They explore, challenge themselves, make mistakes, and try again with an insatiable eagerness to learn. Young children seem to recognize that knowledge is an essential shared resource, like air or water. They demand a fair share. They actively espouse the right to gain skills and understanding in a way that’s useful to them at the time.

Although we have the idea that learning flows from instruction, when we interfere with natural learning children show us with stubbornness or disinterest that it has nothing to do with coercion. Children often ignore what they aren’t ready to learn only to return to the same concept later, comprehending it with ease and pleasure.  What they do is intrinsically tied to why they do it, because they know learning is purposeful. They are curious, motivated, and always pushing in the direction of mastery.


Learning is a hunger too.

But schooling irrevocably alters the natural process of learning for every single child.

  • The very structure of school makes children passive recipients of education designed by others. They cannot charge ahead fueled by curiosity, pursuing interests wherever they lead.  Although interest-driven learning results in high level mastery, the top priority in school is completing assignments correctly and scoring well on tests. Despite what individual children want to learn, value is given to what can be evaluated.
  • Segregated by age, children are limited to examples of behavior, reasoning, and ability from those at a similar level of maturity. They have little exposure to essential adult role models and minimal engagement in community life.  They’re also deprived of the opportunity to practice the sort of nurturance and self-education that happens when children interact in multi-age settings.  Even collaboration is defined as cheating.
  • A child’s natural inclination to discover and experiment is steered instead toward meeting curricular requirements. Gradually the child’s naturally exploratory approach is supplanted by less meaningful ways of gathering and retaining information.
  • The mind and body are exquisitely cued to work together. Sensory input floods the brain, locking learning into memory. Movement is essential for learning. The emphasis in school, however, is almost entirely static, and almost entirely focused on left-brain analytical thinking. Many children ache for more active involvement, but their attempts to enliven the day are labeled behavior problems. The mismatch between school-like expectations and normal childhood behavior has resulted in millions of children being diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Coming up with the correct answer leaves little room for trial and error. Thinking too carefully or deeply may result in the wrong answer. The right answer from a child’s personal perspective may actually be the opposite of the correct answer, but to get a good mark the child cannot be true to his or her experience. The grade becomes more important than reality.
  • Emphasis on the correct answer squeezes out unconventional thinking. The fear of making mistakes squelches creativity and innovation. After years of being taught to avoid making mistakes, the child has also learned to steer clear of originality.
  • Readiness is pivotal for learning, particularly in reading. In school, reading is used to instruct in every other subject, so the child who doesn’t read at grade level quickly falls behind. The subject matter in school, even when taught well, isn’t necessarily what the child is ready to learn. The way it is presented tends to be indirect, inactive, and irrelevant to the child. Schoolwork repeatedly emphasizes skill areas that are lacking rather than building on strengths or goes over skills already mastered with stultifying repetition. Neither approach builds real learning
  • The desire to produce meaningful work, the urge to make contributions of value, the need to be recognized for oneself, and other developmental necessities are undercut by the overriding obligation to complete assignments.
  • Conventional education takes the same approach to a six-year-old and an 18-year-old: assignments, grades, tests. Self-reliance and independence don’t easily flourish in such a closed container.
  • Children must hurry to do the required work, then change subjects. The information is stuffed into their short-term memories in order to get good grades and pass tests, even though such tests tend to measure superficial thinking. In fact, higher test scores are unrelated to future accomplishments in such career advancement, positive relationships, or leadership. Students aren’t learning to apply information to real life activities nor are they generating wisdom from it. The very essence of learning is ignored.
  • Schoolwork clearly separates what is deemed “educational” from the rest of a child’s experience. This indicates to children that learning is confined to specific areas of life. A divide appears where before there was a seamless whole. Absorption and play are on one side in opposition to work and learning on another. This sets the inherent joy and meaning in all these things adrift. The energy that formerly prompted a child to explore, ask questions, and eagerly leap ahead becomes a social liability. Often this transforms into cynicism.
  • When young people are insufficiently challenged or pushed too hard, they do learn but not necessarily what they’re being taught. What they learn is that the educational process is boring or makes them feel bad about themselves or doesn’t acknowledge their deeper gifts. They see that what they achieve is relentlessly judged. They learn to quell enthusiasm and suppress the value-laden questions that normally bubble up as they seek to grow more wholly into themselves. Gradually, their natural moment-to-moment curiosity is distorted until they resist learning anything but what they have to learn. This is how the life force is drained from education.

Free play promotes self-regulation (ability to control behavior, resist impulse, and exert self-control) which is critical for maturity.

We’re so committed to structured, top-down instruction that we impose it on kids beyond the school day. Young people are relentlessly shuttled from the classroom to enrichment activities to organized sports and back home to play with educational toys or apps when there’s very little evidence that all this effort, time, and money results in learning of any real value.

Many of us think that education has always been this way—stuffing information into young people who must regurgitate it back on demand. Based on dropout numbers alone, this approach doesn’t work for at least a quarter of U.S. students. So we advocate copying Finland or Singapore, using the newest electronics, taking away testing, increasing testing, adding uniforms or yoga or chess or prayer. We’ve been reforming schools for a long time without recognizing, as Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.”

Figuring something out is itself a delight.

Structured education is actually very new to the human experience. Worse, it actually undermines the way children are primed to advance their abilities and mature into capable adults. That’s because most of the time humanity has spent on Earth has been as nomadic hunter-gatherers, before the advent of agriculture. This time span comprises approximately 98% of human history. Although our culture and lifestyle have changed considerably, our minds and bodies have not. Like our earliest ancestors, we are still tuned to nature’s rhythms, cued to react quickly to danger, desire close interdependence with a cohesive group of people, and need in our earliest years highly responsive nurturing that gradually fosters our abilities.

Studies of isolated groups who continue to live in hunter-gatherer ways have shown us that during this era (and throughout most time periods afterward) babies are breastfed and remain in close contact with their mothers for the first few years. This results in securely attached infants who are more likely to grow up independent, conscientious, and intellectually advanced.

The Importance of Play

Their children play freely in multi-age groups without overt supervision or direction by adults. Such free play promotes self-regulation (ability to control behavior, resist impulse, and exert self-control) which is critical for maturity. Play fosters learning in realms such as language, social skills, and spatial relations. It teaches a child to adapt, innovate, handle stress, and think independently. Even attention span increases in direct correlation to play.

Playfulness can’t be separated from learning. Children watch and imitate the people around them. The child’s natural desire to build his or her capabilities doesn’t have to be enforced. Instruction happens when the child seeks it. The learning environment is particularly rich when young people are surrounded by adults performing the tasks necessary to maintain their way of life. Children naturally learn as they playfully repeat what they see and begin to take part in these real life tasks. Mastering all the skills for self-reliance isn’t easy. Hunter-gatherer children must recognize thousands of species of plants and animals as well as how to best obtain, use, and store them. They must know how to make necessary items such as nets, baskets, darts, carrying devices, clothing, and shelter. They need to learn the lore of their people and pass along wisdom through story, ritual, and art. And perhaps most importantly, they need to be able to cooperate and share in ways that have allowed humanity to thrive. In such cultures, children learn on their own timetables in ways that best use their abilities.

It’s about curiosity and awe.

The Joys of Unschooling

We don’t have to live as hunter-gatherers do to restore natural learning to children’s lives. Homeschoolers and unschoolers have been doing this, quite easily, for a very long time. Our children learn as they are ready and in ways that augment strong selfhood. They stay up late to stargaze or make music or design video games, knowing they can sleep late the next morning. They may fill an afternoon reading or actively contribute to the community. They have time to delve into topics of interest to them, often in much greater depth and breadth than any curriculum might demand. They explore, ask questions, volunteer, hang out with friends of all ages, take on household responsibilities, daydream, seek challenges, make mistakes and start over. They’re accustomed to thinking for themselves and pursuing their own interests, so they’re more likely to define success on their own terms. Because homeschooling/unschooling gives them the freedom to be who they already are, it pushes back against a world relentlessly promoting narrow definitions of success.

This kind of natural learning isn’t just an antidote to the soul-crushing pressure of test-happy schools. It’s the way young people have learned throughout time.

Let children sleep in. Let them dream. Let them wake to their own possibilities.

 

This article originally appeared on Fee.org

Gardening Can Help Children Blossom

This post originally appeared on Fee.org

Earlier this week, my colleague Daniel Lattier made the following claim: “When fewer men farm, civilization dies.” He went on to show that the decline of agricultural society – both in ancient Greece and Rome – was linked to the decline of virtuous living which the small family farm promoted.

The willingness to fail is one key to success in real life.

The small family farm is now extinct in America as well, and many don’t bat an eye or shed a tear over that fact, myself included.

But while we don’t mourn the loss of the family farm, many Americans have grown alarmed at the social and familial discord which is increasingly prevalent in modern society.

At this point in history, it’s impractical and improbable that America could return to its former agrarian state. But is it possible that Americans could restore some of the virtue or life lessons we’ve lost – such as “frugality, temperance, and independence” – by reviving farming in a small way, namely through a family garden?

What a Garden Can Teach

My experience growing up in an urban gardening family suggests such might be the case, for gardening teaches children several important life lessons.

The first is the reality of failure. A child who goes through the process of planting, watering, and cultivating a garden learns all too quickly that hard work sometimes gives little reward. A single storm or a vicious blight can demolish hopes of a bumper crop in one fell swoop.

Such a prospect is discouraging, but according to Dr. Leonard Sax, “The willingness to fail is one key to success in real life.” That lesson, continues Dr. Sax, is the opposite of the one children learn in today’s schools:

“Your job as a parent is not to reinforce the middle-class script, but to undermine it. Empower your daughter or your son to take risks and congratulate them not only when they succeed but also when they fail, because failure builds humility. And the humility born of failure can build growth and wisdom and an openness to new things in a way that success almost never does.”

But while a poor crop sometimes acquaints children with failure, a bumper crop can foster great generosity.

Gardening offers a long-term learning opportunity that the whole family can participate in together.

My little neighbor girl is a prime example of this. As a 5 year-old, she loved working hard to pick raspberries and bring them around as gifts to appreciative neighbors. Because she, like many children her age, was dependent on her parents for provision, working to harvest home-grown produce opened up an avenue from which she could freely give of herself and her labors.

In a world where narcissism and love of self seem to be taking over, few would deny that the opportunity to practice giving is a valuable lesson for the next generation.

Garden Paths

Finally, in a world where families are being sent in every direction – soccer for one child, dance for another, etc. – gardening offers a long-term learning opportunity that the whole family can participate in together. Growing produce naturally gives way to teaching children to cook for the family and learn other fast-disappearing basic skills such as canning.

Instead of chasing the latest sport or the greatest tutorial program to ensure that their child turns out to be a success in life, would parents be more likely to produce well-adjusted, knowledgeable, virtuous, and successful children if they resorted to teaching basic skills like gardening?

Annie Holmquist

Annie is a research associate with Intellectual Takeout. In her role, she writes for the blog, conducts a variety of research for the organization’s websites and social media pages, and assists with development projects. She particularly loves digging into the historical aspects of America’s educational structure.