Prepare Kids for College or Real World Survival?


momlogic's Vivian: Yesterday, a friend sent me a compelling post on Lisa Belkin's New York Times' Motherlode blog.

She cited a Brain Child Magazine article by Tracy Mayor, entitled, "Armageddon Mama: Parenting Toward the Apocalypse. Are We Raising Our Kids to Cope with a Radically Revised Future?" In this thought-provoking piece, Mayor asks if raising our kids to live a plugged-in life might just be a waste. "What if that isn't at all what the near future will look like?" she writes. "What if we're raising our kids to succeed in a George Jetsonkind of world, but they wind up living more like Fred Flintstone?"

Mayor admits to a gnawing feeling of helplessness in preparing her kids for the future, as the events of the past ten years seem to indicate that we are careening directly toward some kind of razing of the world as we know it: 

"This past decade, as we helplessly watched the devastation from the string of Florida hurricanes, the Indonesian tsunami, and, most unforgettably, the breakdown of social order in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina and in Haiti following the February 2010 earthquake, it was almost disrespectful not to wonder, could any of that happen here? To me? To my family?" 

She also asks, "What should the role of education be in a climate-changed, crisis-prone world?" Basically, Mayor's wondering if our nation's collective push toward white-collar pursuits might ultimately be fruitless in the event of a catastrophe, and if we should instead encourage our kids to master a few survival skills in case we are forced to revert to a Grizzly Adams lifestyle.

Personally, I think the woman has a point. With all the time we spend plugged in, chasing an elusive collective Zeitgeist, we've grown greatly dependent on technology that didn't even exist five years ago. Of course, for our children to succeed in the future, it's key for them to be able to gain acumen with these tools. But by raising them to only know these crutches, we may be stunting their ability to develop skills that require their full concentration or physical prowess.

It's always good to have a few old-school tools under your belt, so to speak. My dad is an immigrant who managed to successfully support himself -- and eventually us -- with a "trade" skill he'd learned from his dad: carpentry. That said, I was raised to place great stock in the development of skills for those times when there's just no money to be made in my chosen profession. An example: By writing so much, I've learned to type my ass off. And when times were tough, you bet yer bippy I've scored many gigs that utilized that skill. But could I chop wood to build a house from scratch? Hell no! Should I be learning how? And more importantly, should I find a way to teach my kids how?

What do you guys think? Do you think we should be raising our children to survive in an unplugged world -- just in case?

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