Posts Tagged With: High-stakes testing

Building Self-Reliance in Children Through Free Play

by Todd Walker

I dare you!

Who hasn’t been dared to do something totally stupid growing up? Like when we dared my younger bother to climb the tree over our swimming hole.

“Bet you can’t climb further than Henry! You chicken?”

Life was a huge adventure and he took the risk to beat Henry’s mark. No one had eclipsed Henry’s monkey-like ability. Ever.

“He won’t do it,” Henry said as we watched from the safety of earth.

“Yep, there he goes.”

To this day, my brave crazy little brother holds the record for reaching the summit of that old Georgia pine. The youngest of our tribe of four, he constantly had to prove his worth. After reaching the outer limits of where no kid had ever gone before, perched on a wrist-sized branch, he gloated. We cheered. The bow gave way and he tumbled in slow motion, back first, into the shallow water with a thud.

We pulled him to shore. He regained his breath and we never told our parents. This true story may be hard to believe for helicopter parents.

We never had adult supervision on our day-long explorations down the big creek. Or a warning sign in all caps that read “TURN BACK NOW!” Every bend in the creek reveled a new challenge or new vine swing or new critter to catch. We were denied no hazards. All the while being too young by today’s risk-averse style of parenting.

That was a past time of pure, unadulterated play. We weighed risks, took chances, learned how to cooperate, negotiate conflicts, attend to the wounded, respect each other, depend on each other, and eventually, to run our own lives – without adult hovering. Adults were avoided. They took the fun out of play.

Had an adult told us, “There are no savages hiding behind those huge sycamore trees!” our fantasy, and play, would of been crushed.

For the record, our parents were trusting, not negligent. Granted, growing up in the 60’s and 70’s was different from today. It’s likely that my parents would have had several visits from child protective services if they had to raise us in our modern nanny-state society.

Building Self-Reliance in Children Through Free Play |

Our 7 year-old grandson playing in his new hammock… hung on the edge of our steep lake dam 

The War on Play

Our perceived fears of all the possible dangers to our children handicaps them in the playground of life. The anxiety is crippling. It’s hard not to buy into the myth of safety being peddled in mainstream media, schools, and even churches. Stranger danger! When the Amber Alert breaks into our regularly scheduled programming, parents call the kids in from their backyard and lock the doors – even in ‘safe’ neighborhoods.

We’ve become a nation of soccer mommy’s boys – and girls. Every moment of free time is filled with organized, adult supervised and sponsored busyness. Left alone, kids get creative and entertain themselves. They make up the rules for a pick up game of “Balls and Grounders” in the vacant lot or field. Self-regulated fair play happens with out official umpires or refs. If someone is found cheating, the others will expose the misdeed. Kids learn to govern themselves in free play to discourage players from taking their ball and going home. End of game. That’s no fun.

One of the greatest infringements upon free play is found in our system of public schooling. Recess has been outlawed in many districts. We educators have come to the distorted view that play time is a waste. We need to use those extra 30 minutes to teach to the high-stakes exam and make them even more unhappy. This is the highest priority in schools today. We need scores to compare students with each other, other schools, other states, and other nations. We then rank and pigeon-hole accordingly. We believe free play has lost its role in education. Plus, we can’t chance a lawsuit by allowing kids on those dangerous monkey bars, now can we?

What are the consequences of the war on play?

According to Peter Gray, Ph.D., a research professor at Boston University and author of “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life“, the decline in children’s freedom to play points to psychological disorders.

He cites research that shows that the rate of suicide for children under the age of 15 has quadrupled since 1950.

“These increases seem to have nothing to do with realistic dangers and uncertainties in the larger world. The changes do not correlate with economic cycles, wars, or any of the other kinds of national or world events … affecting young people’s mental states. Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression, during the Cold War, and during the turbulent 1960s and early ’70s than they are today.”

The changes have more to do with children’s perception of the world than with the way the world really is. “Anxiety and depression correlate strongly with people’s sense of control or lack of control over their own lives.” When one moves from a belief of having the ability to exercise control of one’s own life to being controlled by circumstances outside of the person, a dramatic shift in mental health occurs. From 1960 to 2002, children between the age of nine to 14 showed a linear increase in the lack of personal control.

Why try? We’re doomed. Not if we allow our children time and freedom to use their powerful instincts of survival.

We do a great disservice to this generation by hovering over and controlling children’s desire to educate themselves and follow their interests. As prepared parents, we should find ways to allow our young to exercise these instincts of self-reliance. Here’s a couple of suggestions.

  • Trust children to follow their passions. Here’s an inspiring story of parents that encouraged their children to follow their passions. 
  • Get over the myth of safety. It doesn’t exist in nature or your backyard.
  • Allow children to free-range without going nuts
  • Quit believing that your children are in constant danger of abduction or other unlikely events. Prioritize your threats and let your kids live the adventure.
  • Go outdoors. Loosen the safety harness. Let your kids be kids.

Life is an adventure. Having freedom and time to play is the first step to building self-reliance in your children.

And no, they probable won’t put out their eye.

What’s your story? Do you agree or disagree? What suggestions do you have to help children develop self-reliance and resilience? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Preparedness, Resilience, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Six Dangerous Miseducation Lessons You Should Unlearn Immediately

by Todd Walker

Schools teach many things. These dangerous lessons may not be explicitly taught, but they are definitely ‘caught’ by every student – even parents. Good or bad depends which side of the desk you’re on.

the Radical Roldans UNschool + LIFEschool + HOMEschool

As an insider, I’m giving you my top six most dangerous lessons that need to be destroyed before the coming chaos. Before sending me angry comments that this is just another teacher bash session, honestly explore the list with your school aged children or grandchildren at the dinner table. You may be convinced, if they’re allowed to talk freely. As I’ve said before many times, I work with some of the most dedicated, selfless, and knowledgable teachers who aren’t allowed to do the job they are passionate about – to teach.

Ready to be un-schooled? Warning: Unlearning these lessons carry a heavy price tag. But the freedom you discover is priceless.

A.) The Powers That Be knows what’s best for you. Questioning authority – or even worse – resisting TPTB will land you in the re-education compliance camp. Once labeled and drugged, your status and future path is set. Your child knows some of the system’s victims. Just ask.

B.) Learning only takes place in the classroom. Just ask TPTB. Students are taught inside the box. Some teachers encourage outside-the-box thinking. The problem with thinking outside the box is that students don’t have time to even explore the edges. Every minute of their day is planned and spoken for. Even after the last blaring dismissal bell screams, schooling follows them to their bedroom. Homework eats the remains of the day. Forget playing outside (some kids still do that, right?), stomping through mud to the creek to observe crawdads and tadpoles, or reading a book of her choosing for pleasure.

Discovery is replaced with memorizing facts from revisionist historians. We teachers correct ‘wrong thinking’. Constant correcting teaches the student to be dependent on us – the “experts”. Critical thinking dies.

C.) Going to college is your only hope of elevating your worth. TPTB plaster school walls with posters comparing different levels of ‘education’ with earning potential. Why all the one-size-fits-all college propaganda? Our rulers need more debt slaves.

Here’s my advice. If you’re in college now, drop out. If you’re 18, you probably have no idea what you want to do with your life. Don’t buy the lie that you’ll get left behind if you don’t go to college. College will not teach you real world skills. You learn that doing what interests you in the real world. College is pure theoretical. I’ve worked in different fields over my life and have found nothing beats the school of hard knocks. What I learned in college was that I had to perform to get a permission slip to teach kids. It’s a hoop I jumped through. Letters behind our names does NOT qualify us to teach your children.

Alternatives to college until you figure out what you want to do…

  • Start a business. Become a producer.
  • Travel. Save all your money – you’ve got a job, right – while living in your mom’s basement. Explore places you’ve always wanted to see. Pay attention to the local culture. Ask lots of questions. Take notes in your travel journal. Maybe even self-publish it.
  • Volunteer. Not because someone says it’s the ‘right’ thing to do. Go help feed hungry people, build shelters, or work the local farmers market – for free. You’ve got low overhead living in your mom’s basement remember. This may not be your career path, but giving without expecting anything in return will expand your horizons, make you thankful, and even make connections for later life. It’s an antidote for self-absorbed navel-gazing.
  • Self-educate. Take your education into your own hands. Figure it out. Teach yourself to play an instrument, write computer code, or draw.
  • Work in a trade, find a skilled tradesman and become his/her apprentice. Contrary to what you’ve been told by your high school guidance counselor, you don’t start at the top – at least not in the real world.

D.) High Stakes Testing measures your future contributions to the collective. The dirty little secret about state standardized tests is that if your child ‘met the standard’ (passes a subject with a score of 800), little Susie only got 50% of the test questions right. And the parents breathe a sigh of relief and throw a pizza party for kids that score a 50. What kids learn is that vomiting facts and test taking skills are all answer-centered. Problem solving is not taught. It’s hard to when schooling institution’s accreditation (Federal and State money) is on the line. Right answers pay off for good students – the State gets especially giddy. Welcome to Answerland.

Kids in school seem to use a fairly consistent strategy…it is answer-centred rather than problem-centred…

— John Holt – from ‘How Children Fail

The ridiculous amount of energy, time, and money spent on High Stakes Testing has kids walking blindfolded into a train tunnel – with their parents cheering them on. These tests do not measure true value.

E.) We own you. Nothing about forced schooling teaches self-ownership. On the contrary, we (the State Collective) dictate what students need to learn, how to dress,  what to eat, when to talk, how to obey, how to think, and that you don’t own yourself. You have no right to privacy. We can search you and your possessions without cause anytime. You are under constant surveillance. Even that picture your first grader drew, or the app your high schooler created is fair game in one school district in Maryland. I’m sure this will be a catchy trend. The lesson: You belong to the State.

F.) Learning is separate from living. Some things in life should be dropped. Schooling is one of them. Compulsory schooling is a type of child abuse. Yes, I just went there. Every child that enters school at age 5 will have his or her creativity, curiosity, confidence, individualism, playfulness, independence, intuition, and self-reliance crushed under the school steamroller. It’s painful, but these poor lumps of clay have to be molded into what the State thinks they should be.

What passes for ‘education’ today promotes fear of making mistakes, fear of failing, constant pursuit of everybody-is-a-winner awards (Student of the Month bumper stickers and gold stars, for instance), and conforming to the collective. We group students according to age. They spend their most formative years never exposed to adults or other children outside their age bracket. They are now dependent on the one ‘expert’ standing in front of them to gain all the knowledge they need. Sure, we’ll invite an occasional guest into talk about their job in the real world. But that’s far enough. These commoners don’t possess the credentials to ‘teach’ kids – anything.

If you’re curious, here’s a list of people who quit being schooled and ended up doing something with their lives.

  • William Faulkner – dropped out of high school
  • Walt Disney – high school drop out
  • Wilber and Orville Wright – never graduated. They tinkered with things.
  • Richard Branson – Branson’s dyslexia caused him a great deal of trouble as a student, so when he was 16 he left school to go into business for himself.
  • Thomas Edison – Dropped out of school to be taught at home – over 1,000 patents followed.
  • Albert Einstein – Dropped out at age 15. He later went back to get a diploma so he could enter the university. He failed the entrance exam twice.
  • Colonel Harland Sanders founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken dropped out of elementary school.

If you’ve attended, or you have children in public schools, the chances are very high you need to unlearn these dangerous lessons. Un-schooling your mind is your first step in becoming prepared.

I have hope and confidence in the human spirit. Once freed, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.

Feel free to share your miseducated lessons in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter for the latest on our journey to self-reliance, preparedness, and resilient living: @SurvivalSherpa



Categories: Economic Collapse, Government "Education", Preparedness, Self Ownership, Self-reliance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

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