There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveller.
Gopnik is a professor of psychology and an affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. She’s got a mean way with metaphors, and her main idea is that we should raise our children like gardeners, creating the right conditions for our children to grow and bloom, rather than sculpting them—acting like carpenters who attempt to shape and create their children with a desired outcome in mind. Carpenters often try to build replicas of themselves. Gardening involves a bit more humility: it acknowledges that you can’t make a shy child become outgoing, anymore than you make a loud one shut up. But you still can play huge role in supporting the shy one to become more comfortable in groups, or teaching the loud one how to create space for others.
Some people think that self-directed education, or ‘kids doing whatever they want,’ means zero responsibility,. In fact, the opposite is true. Kids in conventional educational [settings] have very little responsibility, because ultimately the school, the teacher, or the curriculum designer is given credit for kids’ success or failure. In self-directed education, the learner is making all the decisions, so they get all the credit for their own success or failure. That is responsibility.
Last year, the New York Times called sleep the “new status symbol.” I’m not sure I accept the idea of a good night’s rest as a status symbol—although I suppose the resulting glowing skin, high-functioning metabolism, and sharp mind may raise one’s standing. But done right, sleep is certainly the ultimate luxury.
I’ve found that people are often surprised to learn just how deeply our physical environment affects our emotions and wellbeing. The field of psychology has historically focused almost exclusively on the internal factors that shape our emotional experience, in the form of thoughts, behavioral patterns, and neural chemistry. Almost no attention has been paid to environmental factors. So, if we are feeling sad or anxious, we’re conditioned to believe this is due to either our genetics or our learned responses. We never look around us and think that there might be something in our surroundings that is making us uneasy.
Ingrid Fetell Lee