I have asked the following sequence of questions to over a hundred groups of people, and by people I mean teenagers, parents, and teachers. And their answers are always the same:
Q: Why do you want your child to get into a good preschool?
A: So they can get into a good grade school.
Q: Why do you want your kids to get good grades ie “A’s” in grade school?
A: So they can get into a good high school.
Q: Why do you want your kids to get good grades ie “A’s” in high school?
A: So they can get into a good college.
Q: Why do you want your kids to get into a good college ie Ivy league of course?
A: So they can get a good job.
Q: And why do you want your kids to get a good job?
A: SO THEY CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY!
And sadly, at least for my way of thinking, even the teens say the driving force of the whole education process is about making a lot of money. Now I am not against making money, or having a lot of it. Where people go wrong is when “externals” like making money or being famous or looking good is what drives them most.
Read Tim Kasser’s book “The High Price of Materialism” to get the research about why it’s so unhealthy. Using data from over 30 different cultures, Kasser shows that when these externals are the driving force, people end up on the negative side of all the emotional/psychological signs of well-being. They are more anxious, depressed, unhappy, engage in poorer quality relationships. You name it and they got it in spades.
So maybe it’s high time we all consciously rethink the unhealthy mantra I described above. Give our kids something healthier to strive for. People who are driven to make a difference, be of service, and to do meaningful work are the happy and healthy ones in the long run. It’s time to refocus!