“I believe the children are our future, Teach them well and let them lead the way”
OK, I don’t normally use cheesy ballads as reference points but Whitney Houston has pretty much summed up what I was going to say here.
You see, I am not sure we should be trying to inspire the next generation.
I do not think inspiration is something we can do TO them; I think it is something we should help them to find inside themselves.
They have lots of little sparks of inspiration in them and it is our job to create the environment where those sparks can grow into flames, and develop into the burning fires that will push them forward.
Unfortunately, all too often we snuff out those sparks of inspiration.
We ignore what those younger than us say, or we dismiss them as stupid and ignorant.
Worse, we put them down, we patronise them and swamp them with our ‘superior’ knowledge and experience.
And then, for good measure, we criticise them for a lack of gumption and staying power, using labels like the “snowflake generation”.
You could say we use an emotional sprinkler system that not only distinguishes the flames but make sure they won’t start up again anytime soon.
Yet we believe the kids are our future, right?
Well, then let us behave like we believe it.
First, let’s take them seriously.
Let’s put aside our own egos and agendas and listen to what they have to say, their ideas, their visions for the world. Without judgement, without any ‘buts’ or objections and without any cheap put-downs.
Let us create a space for them to play, to experiment and to create.
And to make mistakes and get things wrong and generally do stupid stuff. And then let’s applaud them for everything they do, for having a go, whatever the outcome.
Let’s give them the skills and tools they need to have an impact in the world, and teach them how to question everything, how to see other perspectives, how to imagine different outcomes.
Let us teach them how to connect with their emotions, their values and their purpose and develop the emotional agility and resilience they need to flourish.
Let us put ourselves at the service of their imagination, and let them lead and support their ideas uncritically.
Let’s be ready to learn from them, be open to new ideas and approaches.
Let’s show we really believe in them, take them seriously and trust them with the future.
In other words, let us not just sing the song: let’s really put our heart and soul into it.