Thursday, September 19, 2019

Uyboco: What are schools for? (Part 2)

Freethinking Me

A CHILD asked a successful entrepreneur, “What is the secret of your success?”

The entrepreneur thought for a moment, and answered, “I have learned how to make good decisions.”

“And how did you learn to make good decisions?” asked the student.

“By making bad decisions, and learning from my mistakes,” said the entrepreneur.

A relatively new condition has been dubbed by a few therapists as “post-graduation depression.” Linda Ha, writing for CNBC, describes this as such:

“From kindergarten through college, school becomes the primary structure giving students a sense of certainty, while providing them with a social network for learning and support.

Yet after graduation, that structure crumbles, and with no set timetables or mandatory classes to study for, anxiety, depression and a sense of loss about what to do next become all too common.”

Children in school are not given too much leeway to make decisions. Whatever decision-making capability is severely limited to what choices teachers or school officials offer. So when some of them finish school and now have to make big decisions concerning their life, they splash around and flounder and try not to drown.

If school is really meant to prepare kids for life, then it is supposed to hone their ability to make decisions, and then to respect those decisions -- whether the consequences are good or bad. If the decision was a bad one, the student must feel the brunt of the consequence and not be shielded from it.

Yet many children in our schools cannot even decide what hairstyle they want, what shoes or clothes to wear, or what to do with their day. They have to follow the prescribed haircut, the prescribed uniform, and of course, the almighty class schedule.

Schools is not really an environment where children learn how to make decisions for their life. Of course, they can make little decisions like what to eat for lunch or what to buy with their allowance money. But what schools mainly teach is for them to follow instructions. From kindergarten to college, they are taught to conform and follow. How can we expect them to be good decision-makers after that?.

Alfie Kohn said, “Kids learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.”

A parent who always tries to support his kid riding a bike, will be a very exhausted parent, and will get a kid who hardly knows how to ride a bike. What is important is not to prevent them from falling, but to teach them how to fall, how to support themselves when they do, and how to get back up and try again.

Email me at View previous articles at


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!