“The real world”
As a home educating family you hear this term a lot, usually as part of a phrase that’s questioning whether your children will ever be able to navigate it.
The Real World. It carries weight and seriousness, doesn’t it? Not the world of our dreams, not the world of our imaginations, not the world of our hopes or lofty goals, the real world.
It sounds like it’s external to us. Something that’s out there but that our children aren’t yet part of. Something that’s waiting for them to arrive at, later, after we’ve prepared them for it. Something our children need to grow up and fit into.
I think this ‘real world’ must be fuelled by dashed dreams, because by all accounts it looks like this:
- A place where most people (more than three quarters) are unhappy with what they spend their working days on, yet do little to change.
- A place where people endlessly chase the money they need to offset the dissatisfaction they feel while actually earning it.
- A place where values like meaning, purpose, balance and happiness are scoffed at as idealistic.
- A place where things like conflict and stress exist almost daily and are seen as things we need to ‘harden up’ to.
- A place where you will regularly be told ‘no, that’s just the way it is’ if you question it.
It sounds an unfortunate place to spend our childhood preparing for. The problem, I think, is that it has become a self-preserving system. You accept it because your friends, family and neighbours do. They accept it for the same reason. Weight of opinion is on its side, and we all know that going against the grain is hard. It’s much easier to add our voice to whichever one is already the loudest.
All this…it’s just the way it is.
But it doesn’t have to be. Most of the world being dissatisfied in their work does not have to be the way it is. Chasing money in a loop while the things that really matter to us gather dust does not have to be the way it is. And spending years preparing our children for a world like that most certainly does not have to be the way it is.
I think it’s time our children grew up unprepared for this real world so they can get to work on building us a new one.