For the first couple of weeks in August, we went to Aspen for music lessons. The Aspen Music Festival is huge, and famous, and drives up the price of hotels in Aspen (as if they can be driven up any further.) So we stayed in a town nearby, Snomass. It’s a ski town in the winter but in the summer, it’s a corporate training getaway.

The only kids there were mine, and at first I was on high alert to keep them on good behavior (read: no fighting in the hotel restaurant) but then I realized that the corporate training was fun, and people were laid back and happy, and they could put up with anything from my kids.

I watched the training for the week we were there, and I got to thinking that the adults had total control over their learning environment, and they were engaged and happy whenever we saw them: exactly what we should be doing for kids and their learning.

Then I saw a book someone left in the lobby: Emotional Agility. By Susan David. I got excited. I thought it was a book about education, and I had the thought that omnivorous readers have when there is a book with no owner: Do I want to take this home? But the subtitle says: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life. So basically, the title says you can do anything you want in adult life if you get emotional agility.

But what about kids? Surely if you need these skills for adult life we should be teaching them to kids. But that’s too difficult. Corporate training is way better at teaching soft skills to people because corporate trainers assume adults are motivated to learn, so there are no grades. The need for grades in school comes from thinking that kids don’t want to learn. So it’s too hard to teach skills like emotional agility.

I didn’t take the book but I kept the idea of corporate training rolling around in my head.

Then I saw research from Vista College about how sleeping better improves your learning experience. It’s a smart thing for Vista to publish because it shows parents that school is focused on teaching things that really matter in life. But the interesting thing about the infographic is that it assumes kids have learned poor sleep habits during their primary education. And now they need to unlearn the poor sleep habits.

So much of secondary education and corporate training is unlearning bad habits of school and relearning how to take care of yourself—both getting enough sleep and developing emotional agility are self-care skills. And so is grit, which his impossible to teach in a school setting.

The first priority for education should be to teach skills for self-care—those are the skills that create a platform for life-long learning. When corporations complain that people are not prepared for the workforce, we can see what is lacking by looking at what they spend money to teach employees. The most popular courses in corporate training are personality type, team building, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

We spend so much money figuring out which type of education creates successful adults. School administrators largely ignore any research that cannot be implemented in the common core, with a grading system. Corporations have the freedom to implement the training that has been proven to have the most return on investment, because corporations compete for employees based on satisfaction and engagement.

So, if you want your kids to have high engagement and high satisfaction, base your homeschool curriculum first on corporate training curriculum. It’s proven, it’s based on real data, and you don’t have to invent the tools by yourself.

5 replies
  1. Jenn Gold
    Jenn Gold says:

    Penelope, I love this. I have been toying with this as I am “planning” for our Summer Term here. I know I want to incorporate far more “soft skills” though they really aren’t that soft at all! To me, they are essential. Topics I know the kids need to see – perseverance through difficulties, building self-image/confidence, people skills, etc. I wanted it to be more deliberate, you know?

    This blog is so timely for us! Thanks for putting it so eloquently in words – “Corporate Training”. I had just called it Success Habits/Skills.

    Does anyone have any ideas for how to implement this in day to day homeschooling life? Not necc rigid curriculum but maybe some concrete steps I could take.

    INFJ Mom

  2. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    I work for a big corporation and yep that is all the type of stuff they go for, plus wellness programs.

    School does put so many barriers around kids heads. I was with the fam on a long trip and after 7 hours of nobody talking in the car i couldn’t take it and asked my niece if she had knew what road we were on. As we drove past a ’95’ sign she said, ‘i am cheating and we are on 95′. It made me sad that she thought opening her eyes and looking out the window was cheating. And I also felt a little sneaky, ’cause that’s all i wanted her to do anyways.

    • Adrianne
      Adrianne says:

      This is a great anecdote and very characteristic of what school conditions kids to think of as “bad”. …but really, how can it be “bad” to know where to go look for information one does not know? How is it “bad” to ask questions in order to figure out how to solve a problem? In some ways, traditional school ends up making kids engage in a form of magical thinking where knowledge just magically falls upon the chosen few. In reality, no one learns anything without looking for answers and asking questions.

  3. Susan
    Susan says:

    You missed an omnivorous opportunity :-)

    The last chapter of Emotional Agility focuses on these skills in kids, and is very much aligned with a lot of what you write about here: how to facilitate the development of kids into autonomous, independent thinking adults, and with a strong focus on how to help cultivate their wellbeing. How do we help kids learn “how” to think – not “what” to think from a didactic perspective; and what are the critical emotional and psychological skills they need to move forward with grit (balanced by adaptability) and resilience in a world often conspires against this.

  4. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    Hadn’t heard of that, but it looks fascinating! Will have to check it out! I have no doubt that we are shaped by our technology. But what is important is that this is something every generation has faced. It isn’t new in this century.

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