This is outlandish. In fact, it’s so crazy you shouldn’t even countenance it. But I’m gonna say it anyway: kids love to help. Kids love to do. Kids love to be part of something bigger, more exciting, more grown up. Kids are really fast learners—faster than adults.
Victorian Values 2.0
What if we turned the notion of work, kids and learning upside down? What if there was no 9 to 5 and no childcare? What if we brought kids back to the workforce?
Rewind a moment. Once, kids grew up working with mum and dad. Not working in a hangar full of other 4-year-olds on hammering a fluffy donkey into a Lego truck.
I don’t mean slave labour. I don’t mean factory/chimney sweep/coal miner. That was the industrial mess that led to school. I mean before all that.
Comanche kids could once ride horses bareback better than most adults alive today. Boys and girls learnt the artisan trades, the crafts, the whatever, of their parents virtually from the time they could stand and talk.
If the factory’s broke [just ask Seth Godin: What is school for?], let’s reimagine the workplace.
That doesn’t mean rewind—it means reimagine. Learn from the past, don’t just recreate it. We don’t all have to try and find a living as horsemen or artisan cobblers (but feel free to try!), but we could rethink what we do and how to do it.
Hands on 3-year-olds
When I picked my kid up from grandma—after an afternoon where daddy had to work, so he had to go somewhere else and be minded—I discovered that he’d been helping grandma set a table for her book club.
Not just any table. It was a Dutch Masters’ still life table. Overflowing grapes, French cheeses, cut glass goblets. Stunning.
Good work! What else could he do?