Don’t encourage kids to change the world.
NYC sand volleyball courts function a lot like small towns, and in the small-town world of NYC beach volleyball, Lisa was a mayor. She made a huge stink about how men got more time than women. She closed down all the sand courts. She offended everyone. Then she asked me to be her partner. I thought to myself that she was crazy and also that she sucked at volleyball. But I am attracted to the intersection of drama-fests and power-grabs, so I said yes.
We kept in touch when I left NYC, and while I was navigating the startup world, she was navigating the school world. She was disrupting the way we teach reading. Then disrupting the way we use technology.
Don’t tell your kids to grow up and change the world. Seriously. Did you change the world or did you fight climate change with LED bulbs and electronic RSVPs?
People who change the world don’t need encouragement. Changing the world means being a bother to everyone, ruining everyone’s plans. Not many people want to do that. People do it if they can’t do anything else. And your kid doesn’t need any help from you if that’s the way they were born.
Also, think about your own generation. Did your generation lead change? If you’re breathing the answer is no. The Great Generation was the last one to actually give a crap about the world around them. Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act. He established a social safety net. And it was the last time our government actually functioned across party lines. We haven’t done anything as meaningful since then.
Generation Z will pick up where the great generation left off. We need to stop giving direction, because they won’t lead like anything in our frame of reference. But we know from history that people who actually accomplish things talk about solving problems not changing the world. The grown ups alive right now — Baby boomers, gen x, and millennials — are either self-involved and/or traumatized from the self-involved. Gen Z will solve problems, if we just get out of their way.
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