Alright, we are going to dive into something a little more on a limb, but something I have been thinking about since I wrote a note about the subject during my Youth and Society, Sociology class in college. We were discussing how recent studies have shown that youth who were in preschool at earlier ages were more successful in grade school, middle school, high school and had higher acceptance rates to colleges. Please don’t ask for a citation to which study, because I did not make that note in my notebook when we had the class discussion. We were often led to believe that the reason for this was earlier exposure to learning methods and general academia. But I had a question… was THAT really the reason? I think it might have more to do with behavior and human interaction. Perhaps the children who start school at a younger age, do better because they learn intangible interpersonal skills during early developmental stages. This allowing them to battle less complexities as they grow older, and are able to focus more on academics and less on how they interact with their peers as they go through school.
Are academics and school curricula what are bringing success to our children, or is it all a distraction that allows the real magic to work? The teachers are assigning, the students are completing. But what makes one student more successful than the other? More importantly, what seem to be the catch phrases in corporate America? There are some words I have noticed: cohesion, teamwork, network, personality testing; putting the right people in the right seats on the bus; EQ v. IQ. With exception to specific technical trades, academics have reached a plateau as to what one can use to truly excel. And in today’s business, I think our Kindergarten teachers were on to something they didn’t even know they were on to: If you don’t know how to play nice with others, you don’t get to play at all.
I’m not saying I think academics are to be valued less. More so, I am calling attention to the importance of interpersonal skills. Today, HR and business students learn about IQ, which most are familiar with, but also EQ… the measure of one’s awareness of others’ emotional states and how one’s actions affect those around him. Knowing how your actions affect the rest of the process in an organization has proven incredibly yielding in corporate America as well as the government. Zappos, the online super-store with the zany-creativity of Founder Tony Hsieh (who is rather not so zany in appearance) has a training program and incredible level of success that incorporates this theory. Every Zappos employee, upon hiring, goes through their training period where they spend time working in all the departments of the company (Shipping, warehousing, customer service, etc) before starting in the position they were hired for. If you are curious as to just HOW successful Zappos has been, and you aren’t already wearing shoes you bought from the site, then just enlist the powers of Google and you will see.
The Marine Corps is touted as one of the most effective and cohesive martial cultures and fighting organizations in the world. It is also the only US service where all enlisted personnel attend the same basic training before continuing in their respective specialties, and all officers attend the same 6-month basic school before going off for additional training in their respective specialties. By the time a Marine Officer has made it to his or her assignment in the fleet of combat ready Marines, they have a respect and understanding for what their counter-parts are contributing. This greatly helps in implicit (commercially read: efficient) communication and coordination. There is also a great bond and commitment to all members across the organization. This breeds greater efforts and higher yielding results.
For the most part, we’ve all been student drivers. When we first started driving, blind-spots could be a complete disaster, or negligible. But checking our mirrors and checking for the vehicles around us were conscious efforts when we first started. But once we learned, we were able to do all of that effectively, and spend more attention focusing on more precise driving skills. Are those blind spots to new drivers the same thing as EQ to preschoolers? I think so.
If you have input or believe there is something I have missed, as always, I encourage your input! Thank You!
2 thoughts on “It’s Not Education; It’s Just a Distraction”
This was shared with me as a response via email by “JP”:
Social awareness is a significant factor in effectiveness of a unit. While I didn’t attend preschool I can see where that is an easily-attributable factor to success. I think learning how to operate and interact with others starts with your family – getting along with your siblings, your parents, your neighbors. Getting in fights, talking through disagreements…getting to know the other kids on the school-bus or the migrant worker who does the yardwork. Schools provide the first organized institution where citizens interact extensively. The academic and social development are equally important to growth as people. And that carries on through elementary school to college & beyond. College is as much the nights, weekends, and friends you make as it is what you major in. TBS was as much passing the tests as it was beers in the Hawk. Getting people together in an educational or business environment provides shared experiences, challenges and goals and facilitates the social development.
Without a backbone organization, people gathering together becomes a purposeless mob.
I agree with you on what you said about education not only being about education itself, but also just as much about social interaction. I went to public school only til the end of 5th grade, and then was pulled out to homeschool throught the end of high school. I spent several years mostly on my own, since both my parents worked full time, and even now I sometimes feel like I missed out on learning so many things, not only academically but socially as well. I fully believe that there is a deep seated human need to interact with outher people, and it really is vital in our growing and learning processes.