If you were fortunate to learn to read as a child, The Emperor’s New Clothes is likely one story you remember. Hans Christian Andersen’s 1800’s adaptation tells of a vain King who falls prey to swindlers that create a robe they describe as “invisible to stupid and incompetent people.” Pride and fear prevent the King and other adults from acknowledging that the fabric – in fact – does not exist. Only when His Royal Highness marches in a public procession, does a small child declare “He isn’t wearing anything.”
Suffice to say, a fairy tale about an Emperor strutting around naked has a way of sticking in a kid’s memory. The elements of a fearful populace and an arrogant ruler are also tragically accurately descriptive of governing bodies not simply past but also present.
What shocks me most today, as swaddled, dead babies blanket hospital floors in Syria, terrorists shoot shoppers at a Nairobi mall, and the United States ticks off Cinderella hours to a governmental shut down, is the blind eye human beings around the planet continue to turn to reality.
You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.
Conflict resolution is the one skill every person needs throughout their lives – more times than they will dress themselves.
So how do we prepare children and teens to excel in this critical arena?
Despite ample evidence confirming that this educational method – consistently cited as the high bar of performance in parenting – perpetuates systemic problems rather than alleviates them, we turn a blind eye to the facts, parade in the robes of vanity, and sell the – so porous as to be wholly vacuous – “fabric of society” to generation upon generation.
The good news, as the voice of the child in The Emperor’s Clothes so beautifully illuminates, is we do not need to be either the most powerful or the most numerous to effect change. We simply need to be courageous and state the truth publicly and plainly. Doing so is the commitment of Parenting 2.0.
Editor’s Note: This blog is dedicated to the more than 100 Global Presence Ambassadors promoting a new paradigm for Life Skills Education by hosting regional gatherings around the planet for P20 Talks 2013.
Last month I violated one of the most sacred tenants of bloggers – consistency. I failed to post a blog for July entirely. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I can chastise myself for maintaining an end of the month posting schedule, or credit the unanticipated surprises and demands of transitioning from a home in California to a cabin in Oregon.
But the truth, if I am completely honest, is something far more chronic. The truth is I am enormously – indeed spiritually – conflicted every single time I compose a blog.
Not for lack of something to say. As everyone who knows me personally will be happy to confirm, I am intensely passionate engaging in two-way conversation regarding the importance of humanity embracing a more proactive educational process for Life Skills. I am conflicted because I am brutally aware that, by blogging, I am adding to the avalanche of unidirectional information that assaults individuals daily – the avalanche that, mere survival mandates, human beings respond to with a deaf ear.
As I shared in my introduction to P20 Talks 2012 – “Life Skills Educators market themselves primarily independently. And what happens with that is it is like going to the symphony and having every instrument play its own song. People aren’t going to the symphony. Parents aren’t listening. Critical resources are getting buried, life-altering resources.”
I write today not because I am no longer pained, but because I am pained more deeply. I am pained by news headlines that celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have A Dream” speech alongside discussions of chemical attacks and international warfare. I am pained by the fact that an even greater war, fought not on streets or battle fields but within homes, delivers epic silent suffering and death daily.
The day will come, when after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world we shall have discovered fire.” Pierre Teillard de Chardin
I write today out of gratitude for the Thought Leaders that travelled from multiple continents to San Diego, California one year ago for P20 Talks 2012 – the first ever professional conference for Life Skills Educators – and the more than 100 Global Presence Ambassadors hosting regional gatherings around the globe for P20 Talks 2013.
I write today, because we too have a dream..a dream of a time when human beings everywhere embrace third party wisdom for the skills necessary to succeed in the mandatory curriculum of communing with others. A dream of a time when children learn not merely the three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic but also the three C’s, concern, compassion and conflict resolution.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before improving the world. Anne Frank
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.
What was the last thing that troubled you? Was it a disagreement with a colleague or a loved one – a child perhaps? Where did you learn communication skills? Who were your teachers? You were taught reading and history in school but were you also taught interpersonal communication skills? Did you ever contemplate your role in making history?
Rest assured you are. Every exchange with fellow human beings – whether disagreeing with someone at the office, disciplining your child or fighting with your spouse – contributes in thousands of ways to the larger story of humanity. Central to every interaction – business or personal – is communication.
How do people learn this critical Life Skill? From communication experts? Conflict resolution classes? Not usually. They learn from role modeling.
Why is it human beings enthusiastically embrace quality education from third party educators for everything from soccer to science, yet accept children simply learning what they live when it comes to interpersonal communication? What price does humanity pay for its failure to better appreciate this critical Life Skill?
Adults do, of course, routinely prepare millions of people to respond to crises in the communications arena – doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, military. Isn’t this about as logical as telling people to jump in the cockpit of 747’s absent quality instruction then cleaning up crash sites?
When couples struggle in relationships they are encouraged to attend “therapy.” Therapy comes from the word “remedial” meaning “to restore”. If you break a leg you attend therapy to restore your motor abilities. If you suffer a stroke, you attend therapy to restore cognitive abilities.
What couple attending therapy to learn quality communication skills ever enjoyed what anyone would define as highly competent ones? They are not restoring anything, they are learning it for the very first time. Shame is a lousy ingredient in any educational process.
If we can construct rockets that deliver people to the moon, might we also construct more dynamic means for empowering every individual with the skills necessary for success in the mandatory curriculum of communing with others?
How might the world change if instead of having “child care centers “ around the planet we respected these same facilities as Communication 101 Centers? How might school children blossom when we affirm for them the many ways people communicate – verbal and non-verbal – and their capacity to expand upon parents’ teachings? How might divorce rates decrease when these same children become adults and create their own families?
Options for change are as vast as the universe when we take the first small step of acknowledging the centrality of communication in every avenue of human interaction and advocate a more proactive educational process. Doing so will constitute one giant leap for mankind.
Editor’s Note: In 2012, Parenting 2.0 members made history by gathering professionals across multiple disciplines and continents for P20 Talks. P20 Talks was the first professional conference to recognize Life Skills as distinct, critical skill sets teachable by third party educators. Thought Leaders for P20 Talks 2012 Communication 101 panel included: Dr. Rosina McAlpine, Dr. Raelynn Maloney, Dr. Yvonne Sum, Melissa Pazen, Mark Romero, and Susie Walton.
Cheeks are flushed, heart is beating overtime, brain is helpless to regain the reigns, it’s official, I have a crush. Why is it we never see these things coming?
It started slow, as they often do. A simple hello. But I soon found myself noticing that his emails were the highlight of my day.
I love how he gives everyday people a voice. I love how he has created a dignified platform for every single human being to sing their song, shake their mojo, and speak up for the welfare of others. I love when he shares news of their victories – my heart and soul literally soar with affection for their triumphs.
Yesterday I came out and confessed my crush as Founder of Parenting 2.0 for Change.org and registered a petition calling on schools in the US and Canada to teach interpersonal communication skills. I am excited about the number of people Change.org can help us reach as we advocate proactive education of Life Skills.
The time is here for more people to acknowledge that if we can teach children math and music from third party educators we can most assuredly stop calling them names (Bullies, Victims, Drama Queens) – and punishing them – when they struggle on playgrounds absent formal instruction in interpersonal communication.
The time has come for us to take a broader stance as we advocate a more dignified curriculum for this foundational Life Skill. I am enormously grateful for the platform of Change.org to expand the advocacy of Parenting 2.0.
Today I invite you to join our chorus and experience the power of a loving crush once again – or perhaps for the very first time – in your life.
Sign the Teach Interpersonal Communication Skills to All Children petition and share with your peeps.
Hugs! Mama Marlaine