By Diamonte Walker
Jaden Smith set the internet ablaze with this tweet. It seems he’s not alone in his sentiment since he garnered more than 6,000 tweets and 3,000 favorites at the time this snapshot was taken. But, apart of the digital kudos he’s also received a lot of flack for implying that mainstream education is eroding the minds of our youth. For the mainstream media, this is outright blasphemy. Afterall, our public school systems are producing critical thinking innovators by the droves, right? Oh, what’s that you say? Our school systems are designed to produce factory workers, but we no longer have factories since the industrial complex went bust? I know the Smiths can be a little scientology-esque, but does the young Smith have a point?
While most blogs are in an uproar and calling his statement outright stupid, I took a moment to look at the other tweets he sent out at the same time to get a bit of context? Remember, it is not easy to express yourself in 140 characters or less, so context matters.
After reading his tweets, taking into account his age, pairing that with Willow’s style and music choices and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s liberated facebook posts, a more clear picture has emerged: Jada Pinkett-Smith is raising non-conformists and it makes people very uncomfortable.
As the mother of a non-conformist – not to mention I harbor my own non-conformist attitudes and beliefs – I applaud Jaden for making a statement that got under people’s skin. It made us think and evaluate whether or not we agree, disagree and why. That’s what non-conformists do.
I know that his parents have the money and access to give him a global education and when little black boys drop out of school in the ghetto, they don’t amount to much, but what I took from his statement was more about owning the type of education you get versus accepting whatever type of education the system decides to give you because the system ,as it is, is hurting more than it’s helping.
Many homeschoolers and after-schoolers can identify with this.
Let me be clear, formal education matters in my book because the lack of it is an automatic disqualifier. My children will be encouraged to go to college because if you do not have formal education, the system has permission to slam several doors in your face.
However, formal education is not enough because that very same system is not required to open any doors for us as a result of our education. We have to give our children an additional tier of knowledge so they can open those doors for themselves. As parents, we have to find creative ways to educate our kids outside of the classroom. Our schools are designed to conform them, not inform them about the way the world truly works. Information is my job and I teach my kids constantly. School won’t make them smarter, but fostering their curiosity will.
For any parent that has spent time in the average public school classroom, you know that in most cases, the material is designed to dumb them down. The questions have only two answers: a right one and a wrong one.
When you raise your child to be a non-conforming critical thinker, you are less concerned with their ability to reach some pre-determined right answer and are more focused on their ability to defend the answer they arrived to in a well reasoned matter – even if it is wrong. I concern myself less with whether or not my children can learn – all children can learn. I am more concerned with whether or not my children can think.
If had to choose, I’d rather they be curious than compliant. Compliant people maintain the status quo which is great if the status quo is working and a nightmare if the status quo is broken.
A curious mind will solve problems. People who solve problems change the world. See the logic?
I consider Jaden’s tweet a subtle rallying cry for us to examine what it is our schools are teaching us.
Let’s ask ourselves, has school made us a more tolerant, less violent, more innovative, less robotic, more focused, less erratic, more competent and sustainable people? I don’t think it has.
Or, has school taught us that a tweet that doesn’t say, School is Good – is bad.
Simply put, we need don’t need to conform to our current school system, we need to reform it.
Are you raising a non-conformist?