Anna Quindlen argues that children today are overstretched and exhausted as compared to the past and should be given more leisure time. Ms. Quindlen argues that contrary to popular notions, leisure activities can be quite an effective mode of our children’s education because they allow the children to observe the world on their own and stimulate their imagination. Ms. Quindlen mentions artists as an example that often come up with their best creations in their free time when they have the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild.
Most of us have personally observed that children are on the average more curious than adults. A possible explanation may be their limited understanding of the world around us as compared to adults. Experience is certainly desirable but at the same time adult’s confidence in their personal interpretation of the world also makes them less willing to entertain conflicting ideas. Formal activities such as piano lessons, sports classes are the result of an adult belief set that occupations that require use of the logical left-brain skills are the key to success. If there is a lesson to be learnt from globalization, it is that skills are transferable and globally mobile but not ideas and innovation. Thus, the sources of core competencies in modern world are ideas. Manufacturing processes can be relocated to any country with low labor costs and workers can be trained in short periods of time but ideas and imagination can’t be taught. Thus, we should provide opportunities to our children to make use of the right hemispheres of their brains which are a source of creativity and imagination.
Daniel Pink, a former chief speechwriter for former Vice President Al Gore, argues in his groundbreaking book “A Whole New Mind” that right-brain thinkers are wired for 21st century success. He says that skills making using of the left hemispheres of the brain such as Accounting and computer programming are readily outsourced, creativity and inventive mind are crucial in the new age to remain ahead of the competition (Winfrey). It has been argued that many of the jobs that will be in demand in the future don’t exist today. If true, then we may be teaching our children skills that may become useless tomorrow. After all, how many of us could have predicted the decline of white collar jobs in America such as IT about two decades ago? Thus, the best way to prepare our children is to stimulate their creative side and give them room to engage in their own imaginative world, no matter how silly it may seem to us.
Some of the greatest entrepreneurs in America such as Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as well as Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos have credited Montessori education with their success. Montessori education goes against the traditional education methods by emphasizing collaborative environment without grades or tests and emphasizes self-directed learning and discovery (Sims). Erwing Kauffman Foundation found in its investigative study that new firms add an average of 3 million jobs in their first year while older firms lose 1 million jobs annually (Weitekamp). In other words, if it were not for startup companies, the U.S. economy will actually be a net destroyer of jobs. Even Chinese are aware of the limitations of competitive advantage through low labor costs with the emergence of Vietnam and other smaller Asian economies and have taken steps to improve the country’s leadership in innovation. It’s no secret that China has been encouraging more and more multi-national companies to setup their research facilities in China and many tech giants such as Intel, IBM, and Microsoft have already answered the call (Atkinson and Swezey).