Life Kits

Are you providing a life experience or a Life Kit?

My oldest son has long been fascinated with building things with his own hands – primarily set construction, but chairs, decks, a lodge–it makes no difference if there are tools and wood involved.

Early on, I tried taking him to a big box home-improvement store for one of their monthly building “classes” for kids.

It turned out that it simply was putting together a kit they provided. Hammer a few tiny nails (misshapen by the end) and stick some stickers–voila! You’ve built something!

Needless to say I wasn’t impressed by the experience, and he didn’t get anything from it, either. Compare that with his favorite construction memories – measuring, building, painting sets, designing a fort in the woods, or building a chair with his uncle.

More and more we offer safe “Life Kit” experiences with no chance for failure but also no chance for growth. These kits are a mirage – they look like real, educational opportunities but in fact are just occupiers of time. We offer Life Kits in science classes, in athletics, in many parts of our kids’ lives.

As an educator, I often ask myself: “Are you offering a real educational experience? What part of this journey came from a kit, and what is real?”