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In my preteen years, my parents kept telling me that I am going to be a preacher and play the piano at concerts to large groups of people someday. Their goal for my life was out of harmony with my natural talent. My favorite outdoor activity was building tree huts and my favorite toys were mechanical, the erector set being my favorite. My interest and natural talent was related to creativity associated with mechanical skills. The problem was, my natural talent did not meet the bragging rights my parents were seeking. They pressured me to take piano lessons. As a reward for spending an hour at the piano, I could play with the erector set. I never had talent for music, but I had tremendous technical talent that went undiscovered and undeveloped as a teenager.
Conflict with my parents was growing. At the age of fifteen, they sent me to work on a farm for the summer. After that, I took charge of my own life and rejected all opinions of my parents. Their vision of a settled preacher family lifestyle and my adventure lifestyle was a wedge between us all our lives. Compare this experience with parents who support their child’s wild ideas.
During the late 60s, a 16-year-old boy named Robin Lee Graham wanted to sail around the world alone. His parents supported his dream by pulling him out of high school and giving him a 23-foot sailboat. When he set sail, his parents were accused of being irresponsible. When he completed his journey five years later, he was a hero. No classroom can come close to the motivational and self-confident skills he acquired on this voyage. His parents removed barriers; they did not build them. His parents now have bragging rights that are the envy of others.
Throughout American history, famous people who found success at a young age, was the result of parents supporting their child's wild ideas by removing barriers. They accepted and adapted to their desires and goals, not the other way around. Rebellious youth is the result of parents building barriers, trying to force them to accept their goals. A lot of budding Thomas Edison's are buried at the starting line.
To a parent that knows nothing about ocean sailing, a 16-year old boy sailing around the world alone is considered a suicide mission. If parents did research on the subject, they might find that the idea has merits. Each new generation is exposed to tremendous amounts of new information and youth are tuning in, acquiring knowledge and considering its options. This is information that parents never dreamed exist. Also note, much of this information is being acquired outside of the classroom and is entry to the world these teenagers will be living in. They have a natural desire to explore and accept new ideas, they are not status quo supporters. Status quo supporters are people who gave up the fight to think and be different.
Youth, in their teens and early twenties, are the leaders in dot-com e-commerce. They are establishing the trends. These young people have no money of their own, but their parents believed in their wild ideas and supported them. Creativity and motivation have priority over academic excellence.
When I was 14-years old, I read the book "Kon Tiki." It is a story about six men sailing a balsa raft across the Pacific Ocean. This book turned me on, I was motivated and wanted to duplicate their voyage someday. I was expressing this enthusiasm to my parents when they cut me short and ordered me to stop having these wild ideas. They asked, "Where do you get these dumb and stupid ideas from anyhow?" It was the same type of put down I experienced every day in the classroom. I withdrew from society and kept my dreams and ambitions to myself. My new goal was to get out on my own as soon as possible. That happened at the age of fifteen. At the age of thirty-five, I sailed Liki Tiki Too , a dugout canoe with outriggers from Panama, 5,000 miles to Hawaii. Later, I designed and self-built, in my spare time, a 50-foot ketch named Hunky-Dory. My wife and I spent five years sailing the South Pacific.
Parents and the education system wants youth to be exposed to new ideas so as to expand their horizons, at the same time they want them to accept the status quo. There is a conflict here. New ideas spark youth’s imagination and they build on them. When their creative thinking is rejected, most don't fight back, like I did, they give up and become another youth at-risk, turning to drugs, legal or illegal.
The growing population of school dropouts is pressuring society to examine alternative values for youth and consider alternative education methods. Youth have a natural desire to learn, but not always by the rules society has established. Society needs to abandon the policy that academics have priority over all other human emotions or ambitions. For many, pressure on academics does more harm than a diploma does good.
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