A few weeks ago, I Tweeted:
— Jay Palter (@jaypalter) November 22, 2011
At the time, I was inspired by Thomas Suarez TEDx talk on kids making apps:
I wasn’t so much suggesting that kids should become coders as much as I was saying that my kids could benefit from a wide range of other skills development when they are young. This is from a guy who grew up playing hockey – and loving it. And who now lives in Canada’s hockey heartland of central Alberta.
Don’t get me wrong. I like a good hockey game. To watch, anyway. But for kids who play, hockey becomes a dominant aspect of their lives, at the expense of other valuable skills development.
My kids currently enjoy competitive team sports – they play soccer. But they also like the arts – they play piano and dance. And both of my kids are learning Kung Fu which builds discipline and self-confidence.
In the end, I don’t really want my kids to be computer programmers (unless that’s what they really want to do). I just want them to learn how to unleash their creativity because I believe that creativity is key to success and happiness in the future.
I am hearing this message echoed in the writings and observations of many contemporary commentators. Richard Florida’s research is based on the importance of the creative class and how to create the appropriate conditions for the creative class to flourish. Seth Godin‘s Linchpin talks about rethinking education so that it doesn’t systematically pound the creativity out of kids.
The innovators and disrupters of today’s economy – the ones creating and fuelling the technological rethinking of many business models – are creative souls, many of which are rejects from the education system. Remember, Steve Jobs was a college drop out.
Now, I’m not advocating dropping out of school, but I am advocating that we need to be open-minded about exposing our kids to character-building experiences when they are young. And hockey – or competitive team sports, in general – does not have a monopoly on character building. But it will have a monopoly over your kids’ preciously short time as a kid.
Note: Thanks to Francois for his Kids and Coding post which inspired me to make a post out of my tweet.