Are YOU Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? What do fifth graders know that we don’t? A lot, according to the show with that name. I’ve not seen it, but I understand that there are some tough questions on that show. It’s not that we haven’t learned these things – after all, I’m guessing nearly all of us made it through the fifth grade. But we’ve just forgotten the things we supposedly knew at one point.
This is kind of like our whole lives. We “learn” things, but do we really internalize them? We really do already know so much stuff – it’s buried somewhere deep in our minds – but we’ve spent all our lives forgetting.
Or we can't quite see how what we're learning applies to our lives where we currently find ourselves.
I'm wondering if that's what happens with traditional schooling. I have a friend who has two sons who just didn't get the whole high school thing. Each of them dropped out - which is like signing a career suicide note these days - because they couldn't see how the information was relevant to their lives. On the one hand that takes guts - to stand up for something you believe in enough to risk your future. On the other hand it is quite naive - after all, the reality is that education opens doors to opportunities that we might not otherwise realize are available.
Career options are rather limited these days for people without college degrees, to say nothing about high school diplomas. But there is also something to be said for learning from the School of Hard Knocks.
I, for one, obtained all of my education from traditional schools: high school, college, and graduate school. I "learned" what I was supposed to "learn" and have the pieces of paper to show for it. But I haven't really had too many chances to know what it's like to pull myself up by my bootstraps.
I'm thinking a lot about traditional education lately and wondering what is going on within those walls these days. Since I don't have kids, I'm pretty far removed from traditional education, but I hear and read a lot about how the systems are not cut out to provide the kind of training that might serve students best as they make their way into the "real world."
I want to figure out a way to teach some of what I'm learning and applying in my career - things like learning styles, effective communication, the power of intention, personal effectiveness and excellence and mastery, The Secret and other universal laws - to high school curricula. I'm not sure how to do that, but it's an area I'd really like to pursue, which is why I'm going to suggest it be one of the topics at the Summit for Bigger Small Talk this June in Fargo.
Are we really smarter than fifth graders? It depends on who's asking the questions. When we really learn to think for ourselves - to get beyond "right" and "wrong" and realize that there's only "what works" and "what doesn't," I think we'll see some huge strides in our employee engagement scores. When we can learn to internalize the strengths movement that Marcus Buckingham is so passionate about, we might find that we can stop fighting what we "should" be and embrace what we already are.