My brother is getting married to a woman who is so brilliant and kind and amazing that some days I wish I were marrying her.
We went to her dissertation defense. It was something about enzymes and I don’t know what else because I could understand about six words in the whole talk. But it was exciting to watch a bunch of scientists get excited about the discovery she made. Engaged people are engaging to watch.
My son went to the defense as well. He wants to be a scientist and he thought it would be fun to watch someone get a PhD.
Luckily he had a Big Nate book in his backpack. After about a twenty minutes of enzymes he asked me if I thought it would be rude to read it. I told him it’s fine. I whispered, “Half the room has no idea what she’s talking about.”
My son is twelve. He is reading a comic book. Because that’s what he likes to read. I didn’t tell him to sit through the talk on enzymes because he should learn to sit through something hard. You don’t need to learn how to be bored. It comes naturally to all of us when we are forced to do something we don’t like.
Which is why it’s absolutely ridiculous that people think they need to send their kids to school to learn to do stuff they don’t like. Since when do we need to learn to do stuff we don’t like?
Test yourself: Do you eat food you don’t like? Of course not. You look for healthy food that you like.
Do some research: Does it work to get people to exercise by having them do stuff they don’t like? No. You need to try lots of different types of exercise until you find a type you enjoy. That’s what enables everyone to achieve regular exercise.
Look around you: Are the people who are happy in adult life doing things they don’t like or are they doing things they choose to do because they think that’s their best life?
Adults function best by figuring out what they like and doing it. This is true for even the most difficult things in adult life. Here is my experience of the first month of breastfeeding: It hurts, it’s annoying, I got no sleep, I felt like an animal. That said, I chose to do that because my best adult life is being the best mom I can be. So, okay, that month was not great, but I chose to do it.
Here’s a common counter-example: The person who says “I get up every morning to go to work and I don’t want to do that, so you should get up every morning and go to school because that’s what life is like.”
It’s pathetic—really. If you don’t want to wake up every morning then you probably need to re-examine your life. But just because you are choosing to live a life you don’t like doesn’t mean you need to train your kids to do that.
What is probably more true for you, (since this blog skews toward readers who have an examined life), is that you looked at all the choices in adult life and you picked the tasks that you would be best at, based on who you are. The carpenter is not doing something hard for the carpenter—the carpenter loves what he does. But going to an office every day would be something very difficult and not enjoyable for a carpenter.
So he shouldn’t go to an office. In the same way that a VP of marketing should not make cabinets all day. He won’t like it. And he’ll suck at it. And if that VP of marketing has any self-respect, he will figure out how to hire someone to make the cabinets and he’ll spend time marketing the cabinet maker’s skills. Because given the freedom, each of us gravitates to what we are good at and what we like doing.
That’s what education should be: teaching people to gravitate to what they are good at and what they like doing. You can’t learn that in school. Because school teaches you to put up with doing stuff you don’t like.
Why would you want to teach your kids to put up with a life they don’t like?