We went to Ender’s Game over the weekend and during the movie I couldn’t help thinking about how Ender’s Battle School compares to public education in the US. Examinations of morality aside, governments in Ender’s Game made a strategic decision that the survival of the human race depended on gifted children with a superior and specific education. They then heavily invested in a school and a program designed to find and maximize the potential of these children.
Here are 10 lessons about kids and education we can learn from Ender’s Game:
- Don’t get bogged down in trying to fully acknowledge that all students are gifted in their own way. Instead, make some hard calls as to what skills and talents will be needed most in the future and pour resources into those areas and those students. Our lack of funding better math and science programs, especially in elementary school and middle school, is appalling.
- Start young. Young minds can absorb a great deal of information and we should be giving young kids complex information about all subjects, not dumbing things down to what we think they can handle.
- Let kids work at their own pace and accelerate them as they show ability and potential.
- Allow kids to fail, to feel the disappointment, and to learn from those failures.
- Kids are resilient yet still need someone to confide in, support them, and push them in order for them to fully reach their potential.
- Do not underestimate the importance of hardships, including negative social interactions, in shaping determination and character. However, as kids are left alone to work things out themselves, adults should watch from a distance and be ready to step in to prevent irreparable harm.
- Book learning isn’t enough. Students must be able to create, build, and interact with things in real life in order to fully internalize and cement learning. We need to increase funding for hands-on classes in science, programming, design, and industrial arts.
- Interactive computer games are a powerful tool that cannot be ignored. Advice to limit students’ screen time is antiquated. We should be far more concerned with positive and negative modes of thinking and brain pathways that are reinforced through these games. Instead of merely entertaining, games should be designed to strengthen growing brains in positive ways.
- Students that challenge the authority of teachers should not be automatically punished. The defiant student may be an innovative genius in the rough.
- If we want superior schools, we need to make a serious investment in them. Educational spending needs to be increased.