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Raising Competent, Independent, and Self-Driven Kids

August 15, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm CEST

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Mother and Interintellect producer Maria Górska-Piszek wants her daughter to enter adulthood feeling capable, competent, and excited for the future. She knows this will require experimentation in the real world, learning things by trial-and-error, and making a bunch of mistakes. Join her for an exploration of whether independence and agency can be taught, how can we do it at different stages of our kids’ lives, and the possibility of facilitating this in a school setting.

There’s one thing we can be certain of: the world our children are going to enter in their early 20s will be completely different from everything we’ve seen before. It’s hard to even imagine what skills will be in highest demand, let alone teach them at scale. Young people leaving school already feel unprepared for the challenges awaiting them, overwhelmed with depression and anxiety, and often incapable of basic life maintenance. How much harder will it get in another 10 or 20 years?

Our kids aren’t doomed, but to thrive in a world like this they’ll need to learn skills that aren’t currently taught at school: How to deal with uncertainty, how to make decisions with incomplete information, how to use challenges as a learning opportunity and come out of them stronger than before. A lot of it boils down to independence and agency – the two traits that usually get them in trouble in a traditional school setting. We can’t teach children to sit still and quietly follow instructions for the first 12 years, and then expect them to step up and deal with problems they’ve never encountered before.

If the current approach isn’t working, what will? Homeschooling? Unschooling? Project-based learning? Collaborative games online? Classical tutoring? Running a real business in their early teens? Every solution has different strengths and might be a better fit for some kids than for the others, but I do believe that every child can become a confident and active agent in the world. No matter if you’re a parent, educator, or a former kid, your perspective will be highly valuable as we figure it out together.

Some angles we might explore in the salon:

  • How can we tell if the child is ready for a certain challenge?
  • Where’s the line between independence and neglect?
  • Is it possible to learn on someone else’s mistakes?
  • What’s the right balance between encouraging kids to follow their interests and nudging them to try things they’ve never done before?
  • Is it possible to create a school that would leave the kids in charge of their own education? How would that look like?
  • What can we do when an independent kid makes decisions that go strongly against our values?
  • How does the child’s individual personality affect all of this?

Recommended Reading

Cover photo is a still from the 1969 Pipi Langstrumpf movie.


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August 15, 2022
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm CEST
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