Have you heard of the YouEconomy? You may not have ever heard the term, but if you’ve been paying any attention, you’ve certainly noticed a change taking place in our economy.
I certainly have. In fact, it’s a big part of why I believe so strongly in the philosophy of lifeschooling…because lifeschooling dovetails so perfectly into the YouEconomy we see developing!
So, what is the YouEconomy? I recently just came across this term in an article, called “Introducing the YouEconomy,” by John Addison for SUCCESS magazine. The YouEconomy is, according to the article, “the growing global network of people who are taking the future of work into their own hands. They’re sharing resources and technology, taking gigs through job sites, creating freelance businesses and innovating methods of generating income.” To put it simply, the YouEconomy is made up of all those people who are bolting from corporate America with its cubicles, two-week paid vacations, and corporate insurance policies, and embracing what you may call alternative jobs through technology and the many websites that offer unique, more flexible ways to generate income.
But let’s stop and take a moment to think about the way we educate our children. Are you starting to see what I see? This emerging economy is perfectly suited for a style of education that is vastly different from what we have come to accept as “normal.” In fact, if you truly understand the roots of our modern educational system, then it will be quite obvious to you that there is no way it can adequately prepare our children for the YouEconomy. It simply was not designed to do that.
The modern educational system was devised by the Rockefellers, Carnegie, Mellon, Vanderbilt, Morgan and Guggenheim Foundations and others to produce workers for the economy of its time…factory workers who would do what they were told and not threaten the power of the elites. According to Jamie Lee in an article entitled “The Untold History of Modern U.S. Education: The Founding Fathers,” “These ‘Titans of Industry’, as the PR men dubbed them, were at the top and the planned to stay at the top for generations to come. Their strategy was to keep the working middle class from ever rising to power through controlling of the public education systems in the United States.”
That was its entire goal! It was not an education that taught children to think or innovate or be creative. That was contrary to the goal of protecting the wealth and power of the elites. Children were/are taught to sit still, raise their hands, sit down or stand up when the bell rang, and learn a prescribed set of information to answer a prescribed set of questions on a test. Every facet of our modern educational system was set up with the goal in mind. So, this form of education is actually a hindrance to preparing our children’s minds and character for the YouEconomy, an economy that thrives on creativity and innovation. An economy that gives our children more opportunities than ever before in our history.
Something new (well, actually not new at all. It is much the way education has historically been. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'” -Jeremiah 6:16) is needed to prepare our children for this new economy, which gives them such advantages and opportunities for pursuing their God-given gifts. What is needed is an educational system that returns to the “old paths” and gives our children experiences and training that focuses on their individual talents and gifts. We need children who are encouraged to be creative and think for themselves, not simply learn a list of facts to fill in bubbles on a test. We need children who are encouraged to collaborate and find answers, not expected to already have all the answers themselves. (This is a Google world, after all). We need children who can creatively solve problems to help others, not children who wait to be told how to fix something.
And this is why the concept of lifeschooling is so powerful in the YouEconomy. I think when you read the definition of lifeschooling, it will become clearer: Lifeschooling is the process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.
Think about it. What better way to train your child for the YouEconomy than to actually give him the freedom to pursue his gifts through actually participating in the YouEconomy now, when he has time (if you give it to him) and little risk (no family to support)? What better training and experience could your child get than that? And of course, you will probably find many ways that your child can contribute to the family by using his or her gifts…perhaps building a website or designing a logo for the family business or a family blog? Or maybe selling your clutter on Craigslist or a yard sale page on Facebook?
These are real life experiences that will directly prepare your child to enter this new economy with polished skills and the confidence to go with them. And if in the process your child discovers some areas of weakness, there are opportunities for developing those weaknesses through online courses or “old-fashioned” curricula or books. In the process, he will either become much more of an expert in his area of interest, or he will discover that this may not be the path for him after all. No worries. On to the next adventure in learning! And of course, there are no limits (other than time) to the number of interests he may wish to pursue and profit from.
I hope to see this shift in learning and I believe strongly that we will see it. It just makes sense that the two pieces of the puzzle, learning and income generation, need to fit together. But I hope you will see it even sooner in your own homeschool. I hope you will start to rethink your goals for your children’s education. Is a “good college education” really the end goal? Not all children are meant to be entrepreneurs, but neither are all children meant to be employees in a big corporation that limits freedom in so many areas of life. And I strongly believe there would be a lot more entrepreneurs if our children were only given the opportunities and training in how to think like one from an early age. There are so many advantages to being in control of your own work schedule. But if in educating your child, you simply follow along with “the way it’s always been,” you just might miss out on a chance to make a huge impact on your children’s futures and give them something truly priceless: