I work at an educational publishing company, where I have the good fortune to access some great insights and information from our authors. I read many of our authors’ books and, although I’m not a teacher, I often find a way to apply the knowledge to my life as a mother, wife, and professional.
I recently read Bringing Innovation to School, by Suzie Boss. In addition to being a gifted writer, Suzie is an advocate for project-based learning in schools and dedicates a lot of energy to social justice work. I find her to be an incredibly inspiring woman and found myself taking copious notes while reading her book.
One page in particular caught my attention. I’ve been mulling it over quite a bit. Suzie challenges educators to ask 4 questions of themselves. Of course, the original language is directed toward the education community. I’ve altered them slightly here to apply to parenting:
- How tolerant am I of out-of-the box thinking from my children?
- Do I encourage suggestions from my children? Am I willing to listen to new ways of doing everyday things from them instead of constantly directing them?(Ok that’s 2 questions in one I realize–I added the second one.)
- Am I willing to challenge traditions that are barriers to innovation?
- What will successful innovation look like in my family–from adults and children alike?
It’s easy to say “I want to raise my kids to be independent thinkers and confident problem solvers.” However, when I read these questions, it made me realize how much of my time parenting is telling my children what to do. Of course there are non-negotiables. Playing freeze tag in a busy street will probably never fly as a good suggestion from Eva or Shilo. But, when we’re cleaning house, cooking dinner, playing a game, out running errands, why not do a little more listening and less telling. Why not open our minds to the brilliant ideas that can come at any moment from the mouths of babes? Do we inspire our children to create or do we (perhaps unknowingly) stifle innovative thinking by sticking to sacred cow routine? These are questions I hope will guide my parenting in a new direction.