I like looking at what the super-rich do for education because they are not bound by the same social rules as the rest of us. For example, it’s so common for Hollywood stars to homeschool their children that we don’t even blink an eye when we read about it.
So I often think that there’s no point in me looking at kids in school to decide how I’m doing at raising kids who will find success. I need to look at parents who don’t feel any pressure to abide by school conventions in order to raise successful kids—because their kids were born successful.
Here’s what those parents think about:
1. Experiential learning rather than book-based learning.
While the non-one-percent in public school focus on books and testing, the really rich are focusing on experiential learning at Waldorf. And they are limiting electronics until the kids are pre-teens—with the notable exception of restaurants and other places where “using an iPhone is preferable to getting thrown out for having loud kids.”
The gap between the kids who can collect experiences and the kids who have to read about them is becoming as clear as the economic gap we see when the 99% are in the news.
I especially liked reading this tidbit in Wired about a one-percenter family in NYC:
“‘The Internet does a great job of providing access to learning,’ says Albert Wenger, a partner at New York’s Union Square Ventures. He and his wife Sue Danziger, the founder of online video startup Ziggeo, are having their three children homeschooled. ‘Pretty much everything you want to learn, you’ll be able to find out there. So that puts a premium on, Is this something you care about? Is this something you want to learn?'”
The biggest thing I learned in that paragraph. The one percent do not homeschool themselves. They have their kids homeschooled. Some at home, some by building their own school for their kids and their friends’ kids. But all the same, experiential learning is the norm.
2. Superiority rather than mere engagement.
It’s not enough to have the experiences. The one percent train kids at an early age to be the best at what they do. One of the reasons that the top twenty schools in the US are chronically overstuffed with millionaires is that in order to achieve the benchmarks these schools look for, children have to be groomed from a young age to be the best at whatever they do.
The New York Times describes the mindset this way: “There is a big difference between a culture that encourages engagement with the world and one that encourages developing one’s own superiority.
“The former promotes a sense of commitment; the latter has the danger of rewarding students for collecting as many experiences as they can without stopping to explore—like tourists who pride themselves on how many stickers they can slap on their luggage.”
3. Laser focus on the top 20 universities.
Success comes in waves. The pull of the person next to you ends up pulling you as well. And the same human factors that make you more likely to smoke if your friend smokes means you’re more likely to be a billionaire if your college roommate is a billionaire.
Sociologist Frank Furedi says that one of the big secrets of the expansion of higher education has been a growing gap between the most prestigious universities and the rest. The hierarchy has become more fixed and these top universities have become the place where global players gather.
If you’re wondering what those top universities are, you can find a range of lists. Like, top twenty universities in the world for billionaires. But the bottom line with the top twenty schools is that if you have to ask, then your school is not on the list.