Every human being ever born arrives hard-wired with two assignments – thriving and communing optimally with others. Free will does not mean you choose these assignments, merely the amount of suffering you and others endure until you acquire better skills.
People who excel in this Mandatory Curriculum are our Curriculum Scholars. Nelson Mandela, who made the great transition at the age of 95 on Dec 5th, 2013, is one of humanity’s finest. Mandela not only thrived personally despite obstacles that would have left others disillusioned and embittered, he empowered millions of others to thrive also.
My eldest daughter, Ari Cover, emailed me a photo of her swearing in as a lawyer in the state of California on the same day Mandela passed. The reminder that new Curriculum Scholars begin their humble journeys daily comforted me as I contemplated the capacity for others to carry Mandela’s torch forward.
A few days later I underwent a highly recommended diagnostic procedure. Emotion imprints memory so if you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, no further description regarding the setting for what I will share next is necessary. If not, picture yourself in a hospital bed; needles and wires taped to multiple points on your skin, hospital “blues” covering about as much of your backside as a baby’s bib, and dozens of glowing people bustling about with smiling faces – because, after all, they engage in this extreme level of human care dozens of times daily.
In discussing prior hospital visits with one luminous nurse, Jenna, she shared with me that she was the mother of twins. Without my prompting, she added that one of her sons had a higher than average aptitude for reading, the other below average. Her anxiety about this single skill being purported to determine her sons’ adult success – understandable given the US constructs prisons based on third grade reading levels – grated against her higher intelligence.
I applauded her intuition and reassured her that, “Human beings Mandatory Curriculum – more important than reading – is feeling competent among and engaged with peers. Prioritizing this, throughout every educational process independent individual learning curves, delivers success.” Jenna’s eyes sparkled with unintended tears and she replied, with a renewed fire burning in her voice, “I would love to get a group of people together to discuss this.”
Not only was Jenna wholly unaware of my day job as Founder of Parenting 2.0 – supporting more than 3500 members in over 65 countries doing precisely that daily – she was also unaware of my feeling that I was flailing in my role as torch bearer.
For our second annual professional conference, P20 Talks 2013, over 100 Ambassadors were invited to organize regional gatherings. I’d signed on to host one in my new city of Corvallis, Oregon. Yet here it was mid-December and – thanks to the combination of attending other’s events, record freezing regional temps, icy roads and snow – I’d yet to do so.
I often coach others in the importance of keeping the faith even when all odds seem against you. “Human beings are not the exception to all creation”, I remind them, “it is a benevolent universe and it will support you in surprising ways when you step out in faith and serve others.” Indeed it does. Indeed it does.
What is the point of education? To prepare children to thrive in a diverse world? To ignite their unique passions and empower them to support others in thriving? What top three skills do human beings need to succeed? Is interpersonal communication on the list? What about conflict resolution?
If there is one arena where the disparity between the educational processes of academics and Life Skills is most glaring it is interpersonal communication skills. For math developed countries regularly provide children trained educators, multiple age-appropriate resources, and opportunities to expand their competency levels over years. For conflict resolution – by contrast – children are called names (bullies, mean girls, ADD) ostracized, disciplined, and incarcerated. Why?
What does placing thirty children with diverse interpersonal skill levels in a classroom, mandating they “get along,” then shaming and punishing them when they struggle communicate about adult respect for interpersonal communication?
What avoidable pains are suffered by children and adults in homes around the planet daily? What does employee conflict cost companies and societies? What do prisoners cost taxpayers? What human potential is thwarted due to our failure to prioritize this critical Life Skill?
Although societies wholesale ignore teaching children the skills necessary to avoid conflict in grade school, they regularly prepare adults to respond to conflict: psychologists, therapists, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, military etc.
Isn’t this a bit like telling people to jump in the cockpit of 747’s absent instruction then cleaning up crash sites?
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. Einstein
What is needed to effect substantive social change? Parenting 2.0 provides a top ten list for a paradigm shift, we welcome also your suggestions.
1/ Respect human hard-wiring. Unless someone is the exception to all of creation, they are hard-wired to thrive – they are always doing the best within their circumstances given their abilities.
2/ Acknowledge the mandatory curriculum every child faces – feeling they “matter” and having friends.
3/ Prioritize teaching children the skills necessary for success in the arena of interpersonal communications from pre-school to graduation.
4/ Appreciate every stage of the learning curve equally. Just as we don’t call a first grader learning addition “bad” and a tenth grader learning calculus “good”, the terms are no more appropriate in the arena of interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.
5/ Celebrate diversity. Humanity, like all of creation, is magnificently diverse. Human beings have different brains, different temperaments, different sensitivities. Rather than disparaging these differences – acknowledge and celebrate them. Learn from others rather than mandating or feigning homogeneity.
6/ Embrace humility. We would not call a mechanic that could not tell us what is under the hood of our car an expert. Human beings are still learning what is under their human hoods. Discoveries of the human brain alone in recent years have proved many things once understood as fact to be wholly false. Until we can construct a human being from scratch in a lab, let us remain humble and curious during the discovery process rather than all-knowing and self-righteous.
7/ Express gratitude. Instead of teaching children to always want more, teach them gratitude. Millions of human beings struggled for today’s children to enjoy the blessings they do – millions more still lack basics like food and water. Express gratitude, pay it forward.
8/ Heed your Human GPS. Every living thing has a God given inner GPS. Instead of teaching children merely to listen to the instructions of others, teach them also to listen to their human GPS – they are equipped with one for a reason.
9/ Applaud failure. Failure is a sign someone is trying something new. Trying new things is courageous. To applaud success and decry failure is to celebrate the cake and disparage the farmer.
10/ Love. Human beings thrive when loved, brains work better, health is enhanced. Let’s acknowledge the value of love and respect its power and supremacy on the list of human needs when teaching the three R’s.
Editor’s note: This blog is dedicated to the Parenting 2.0 humanitarians that graciously served as Thought Leaders for the No More Bullies panel at P20 Talks 2012: Devin Hughes, Dr. Donna Volpitta, Dr. Samantha Madhosingh, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Catherine Mattice and Dione Becker. P20 Talks 2012 was the first professional conference to recognize Life Skills as distinct foundational skill sets teachable by third party educators.
Music is much like humor, that which is heavenly to one individual can be tortuous to another. Bob Dylan was popular when I was young. I, however, pretty much classified his music as “Songs by which to hang oneself.” Then one weekend I took a road trip in a VW van from Seattle, Washington to Calgary, Alberta for a family wedding. The only radio station we could get in those (pre-Wi Fi in the palm of your hands) days was airing a weekend long Dylan tribute. My first thought was “Who needs a noose, the trip alone will kill me.”
Me of little faith. By the end of the fifteen hour drive I’d broken through whatever boundaries of space and time divide the intolerable from the divine and was a very much still alive Dylan fan. Fast forward thirty years and I hear Leonard Cohen singing “Anthem” for the first time. Cohen’s (Darth Vader mimics Johnny Cash) delivery makes Dylan sound like Mary Poppins. Fortunately, I was attuned to finding symphonies where I’d previously prayed for silence.
“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
I recalled Cohen’s prophetic verse this morning during a conference call with Thought Leaders for our P20 Talks August 2012 Conference. https://www.parenting2pt0.org One lovely woman, Deborah McNellis, was describing how children are like the paper snowflakes they create – each unique yet all of them equal – and the importance of seeing wholeness through the holes. Want though parents do for their children to have happy, peaceful, productive lives, some of their most valuable life experiences will come from surviving the seemingly intolerable – when paper thin perceptions of self give way to awareness of that which is infinite and glorious. So where does all of this leave those of us nurturing a more holistic and dynamic narrative for raising humanity? Embracing humility.