I recently met my cousin after a long time. She has two kids – 11 and 6 years old, whom I met for the first time. Absolutely smart and delightful!!!
As my cousin and I started talking about what our kids like and don’t like, we picked up a conversation on the emphasis given on reading and writing in the US education system and the importance of it in grooming kids.
My son is around my cousin’s son age; they both are Math and Science geeks and shy away from writing assignments. As parents typically do, we started telling our kids the important of learning how to voice their opinions, clearly communicate their thoughts, and how to sell their idea. That’s when the 6-year old gave me a very thoughtful look and quipped, “how do you sell an idea?”
Kudos to her for asking such a wonderful question that we all still struggle to answer. Don’t we? Though I gave her a simple answer “it’s about making your idea, someone else’s idea or convincing someone to do what you want them to do…just how you get your mom to buy you a toy of your choice”, it really made me think.
No education system teaches kids how to do just that.! It is just assumed that they know it.
Our education system focuses on the mechanics of reading and writing, such as reading every day and writing a response, which improves comprehension and opinion formation. However, it does not provide kids a context of why it is important to have that clarity of thought and how to apply it in practical situations that they will eventually face when they will be ready for the corporate world. More importantly they need to learn how to tell a story, and tell it with a purpose, which is missing in the entire equation.
Many language pundits may feel that it is absolutely important to use proper grammar and create nicely formed sentences with appealing vocabulary, and that if all correct, you are the master of the language. However, in my opinion, it is more important that we teach our kids the “purpose” of communication i.e. what are you trying to achieve with what you are communicating.
The purpose will stem from some of the following questions that you should ask yourself: Are you trying to educate? Are you trying to convince? Are trying to entertain? Are you seeking acceptance or opinions from others? Are you raising funds, or are you asking people to pay for something you are selling?
If they don’t pay attention to the “why” they will struggle to make sense out of the “what” and “how”. Ever wondered why we always associate engineers as “techies” (aka hard to understand) and marketeers as “story tellers”?
While schools are doing a wonderful job of creating an excellent habit of reading and writing, we as marketeers have a social responsibility to make sure that the upcoming generation understand these concepts and not categorize themselves as techies or story tellers. We need them to come out of the box and be great story-tellers.
Let’s encourage our kids to tell stories on topics they like and not what the education system wants them to tell. Let it be anything, not just a book from the library. Let us have our math and science geeks be great story tellers too. Have them incorporate a clear purpose behind their writing and they may as well make Math and Science great subjects to create stories on.
After all, at the end of the day it’s all about selling an idea.
I invite to all my fellow marketeers to discuss ideas on how we can make a difference by helping our next generation kids become better story tellers. Please share your thoughts or drop me a note on LinkedIn.