In education, in the workplace and in the home there is an underlying assumption that if you have more years – of life, in the industry – you know better than someone with less. This assumption is the basis for the way we design curriculums and succession plans and how we manage (!) our children and allows us to guide, nurture and protect the younger generation.
It’s such a logical approach that we rarely critique it or consider its limitations so I would like to add the AND and the BUT to the Teacher Knows Best algorithm.
We can pass wisdom on to our children but we must also offer them the skills and the space to critique it so they can make their own meaning and choose their own future. For this to be truly effective, the older generation (and I use the word ‘older’ in its loosest sense!) must let go of the notion that it knows best.
How this translates…
In the home: Parents recognise that each child is its own person and guide rather than direct its path. They understand that their child will probably grow beyond them and that this is OK. They do not live through their child but with them.
The child eventually leaves its parents behind (Hero of a 1000 Faces by Josef Campbell discusses how this journey has been described throughout history in myth and story-telling) physically, by eventually moving out of home, and spiritually when they recognise that their parents are part of them but not who they will be. They realise their parents did the best they could and let go of bad feelings towards them, realising that blaming their parents means they are holding on to the past, which prevents them from moving forward.
They become even better parents than their’s were – not because they know more, but because they find it easier to let go, so can let their children ‘be’.
Each generation takes wisdom and learning from the past, and looks to the future for its role models and direction.
How this translates in the workplace and the education system in future posts.