Why Grandparents Rock (and Why it Matters to the Future of Education)

July 20, 2015 by John Andrew Williams


Time spent with grandparents is special. They hug us, spoil us, and remind us that no matter what we are always loved. Allowed to eat that extra cookie after dinner, it’s so much fun to show your grandma how far you can kick a soccer ball.

Taking a more careful look at how grandparents motivate grandchildren, a certain brilliance to the technique starts to shine. Grandparents have already been through a cycle of parenting. The second time around, it’s time to rock, bask in admiration, and spoil with love.

In contrast, parents often motivate with commands or threats. Go to a playground and you’ll often hear statements like “If you don’t get over here right now…” or “How many times do I have to tell you?”

Grandparents, however, have a different technique. They motivate through admiration. “Oh, how did you do that?” or “You’re so good at that.”

From a life coaching perspective, the grandparent approach aligns beautifully with a few of the core competencies outlined by the International Coach Federation: curiosity and acknowledgement.

And let’s go a step further. In the future, teachers will interact with students more like coaches or grandparents rather than authority figures or parents. As a harbinger to the change, Sugata Mitra, the creator of the School in the Cloud, also created the program Granny in the Cloud to help guide students on an exploration of what he calls big questions.

It’s the job the Granny to connect with the students via online webinar to guide the students, become curious about what was learned, and most importantly bask in the students’ brilliance.

And who wouldn’t want a granny in the cloud cheering you on, becoming curious about how great you are, what you are learning?

It’s exciting – and encouraging to the field of Academic Life Coaching – to stumble upon the idea that the future of education is probably going to look a lot like schools in the cloud along with adults trained to support children by taking on the same techniques of grandparents, which mimic much of life coaching’s approach.

Also read: Stress, Flow, and Meaning

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