Wouldn’t it be interesting if we approached parenting in the same manner as preparing a Jedi Knight? This would require us to shift our focus from merely protecting, feeding, clothing, and teaching basic lessons, to preparing our children with the specific SKILLS, CHARACTER TRAITS, and ATTITUDES they would need to function effectively as adults and to defend and advance our communities long after we’re gone.
Notwithstanding white supremacy, the reason why so many (not ALL of them) of our young people find themselves lost, confused, and dysfunctional in the world is because we as their parents are not properly preparing them; frankly speaking, they are ill-equipped, and this reality sadly shows through the consistently poor decisions they make, their immaturity, their lack of initiative and motivation, and their inability to generally deal with life successfully. And this reality will continue until we become proactive in our parenting and creative in our approach to education. Essentially, such thinking would completely transform education as we know it, and result in the training of balanced and well-rounded young people, leaders and problem-solvers.
Is there a precedent for this? In most ancient cultures, children had to undergo rites of
initiation in which they were not considered an adult until they received certain training, passed several tests and demonstrated proficiency in the skills and qualities their village needed for survival and development. For instance, an initiate would learn how to hunt, build shelter, skin an animal for clothing, fight, and a number of other things. Wouldn’t it be interesting if our homes, schools and spiritual centers approached parenting in this way? We would identify the skills and qualities our children and need in the “real” world, create lessons and projects to impart such knowledge and skills, then test them to determine if they are adequately prepared. Some of these tests would be traditional written tests. Most trials would involve actually having to do something, avoid something, go without something, create something, withstand something, and so on. In short, this transformed educational process would be both abstract and functional . Wouldn’t preparation like this help to ensure that they grow into powerful and competent adults? Wouldn’t students and children be more willing to learn with such engaging and relevant activities?
In the epic Movie series “Star Wars,” the ancient rites of passage custom is captured
through the training of “Jedi Knights,” warrior monks sworn to protect the galaxy and promote peace and cooperation. Initiates undergo a series of lessons and training, which conclude with a series of trials they must overcome. These trials cover 5 areas including the Trial of Skill, the Trial of Courage, the Trial of the Flesh, the Trial of Spirit, and the Trial of Insight or Knowledge.
Living as we do in contemporary times with a specific cultural, political and economic context, our training program would need some tweaking to be relevant. Perhaps such skills and qualities would include:
- Washing dishes
- Cleaning the home effectively
- Cooking well-balanced, delicious and nutritious meals
- Creating a business
- Self-Defense (including martial arts and use of weapons)
- Performing CPR
- Reading and writing
- Public Speaking
- Prioritizing issues
- Budgeting money
- Managing time
- Controlling emotions
- Logic and Debate
- Physical fitness
- Social Studies (Political Science, Geography, Economics, Civics, History, Anthropology)
- Creating a plan to achieve goals
- Critical Thinking
- Effective communication
- Hygiene and grooming
- Spiritual development
- Community service
Call it impractical if you wish, but I am convinced that our educational system as it currently exists is outdated, largely irrelevant and clearly failing. If we want our children to be prepared for the future, then quite simply, we must determine the skills, knowledge and qualities they will need and create a structure and culture that prepare them accordingly. Not only will a system like this produce genuine leaders and problem-solvers, but the students would likely find this approach fun, engaging and relevant.
Agyei Tyehimba is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Mr. Tyehimba is a professional consultant and public speaker providing political advice and direction for Black college student organizations, community activist groups, and nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please leave your comments by clicking on the cloud located at the top right of this page. Thank you for reading!