Rat race in schooling and helicopter parenting

Last night I was thinking about my son’s schooling and what I aspire for him. I was looking at private schools (very expensive), grammar schools (highly competitive), top rated public schools (top 25% of public schools) and wondering what should be my strategy for him. To put things in perspective, only 5% of students in UK study in private. Another 5% study in grammar schools. 20% in top rated public school. A mass majority of 70% study in schools that are public and rated ‘good’ to ‘needs improvement’. Pyramid is clear to me but the question in my mind was whether the below picture is right:


No doubt I am under pressure as most parents are because we believe education is is the most important tool we can give to our children to succeed in today’s highly competitive market. So with this logic its obvious that if a parent can afford, he should go for private education. That is what parent do! Did you know that in UK, only top 1% population can comfortably afford private education? This data is from HMRC so should be about true. Perhaps we could guesstimate that only 0.5% population my actually have school going kids. But 5% of students study in private schools – so a big majority of parents put their kids into private altgh HMRC believes they cannot afford private education for their kids! Pressure on parents is so visible! Also, private education, just school education costs £500,000 – imagine your child having a house of his/her own even before getting into college!

Its not about costs. Parents are driving kids into sports, music, academics, art, drama… hope I covered everything there…else that also included… From the time a child wakes up till he goes to sleep, everything is choreographed. Focus is much on results and not so much on joy of doing that. This is called helicopter parenting. Its not like our parents didn’t do a good job of parenting us… but they achieved quite decent results without helicopter parenting. How do I think they did it? perhaps by focusing on core; such as values, beliefs – the foundation stuff – and allowed children to flourish with experiences of life.

You can see from the above picture, a helicopter parent has to cover so much of circumference while our earlier generation was focused on core – a much smaller circumference!

Ok, now i can imagine what much be going on in your mind – tomorrow is going to be much more competitive and we need to equip our children for that. So we need to, as parents, ensure our children are great in STEM, Sports, creativity… essentially the outer circle. But think about it, we study a bunch of things, but what do we end up using?

With Advent of AI and ML, I think need for outer circle will further fade. What humans will focus on will be core values, equity, sustainability … things that are much more core.

Skills required in 2020 is very different from skills that were required in 2015 – Education needs to adapt and that begins at home and not in any school.

This bring to the next argument that the power and money is generally concentrated with a few. The selection of who those few are is highly competitive. The person who does phenomenally well on all aspects will have competitive advantage … right? but why do we think the future will be competitive and not collaborative? Wealth distribution is indeed getting distorted. But if you go into history, it was worse! The kings and few of their teams had most of the wealth. Today national GDP is far more distributed than any time of the history and perhaps that is how over a long term, i think distribution will trend towards. Collaboration will be the world of the future and not competition.

In conclusion, I feel as parents, we should focus on giving a stable childhood with a vibrant environment where children can learn core values that won’t be shattered even under heartbreaking circumstances. We provides various experiences so that children can choose their way to navigate through life because adaptability will be more important than extreme skill or competency.

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