From the moment kids are asked to subdue their passions in order to get straight As to the time they arrive at a company and are asked to work 70 hours a week climbing the ladder, people have an incentive to suppress their passions and prune their souls.
This gem is buried in a New York Times article by David Brooks about Rahm Emmanuel's departure from the White House. I couldn't agree with the expressed sentiment more. I spent my 20s un-learning my Pavlovian need for an authority figure's gold star, honed over years as a straight-A student. I've carved a unique path for myself as an adult, but I had to teach myself how to do it.
We need to teach kids how to figure out what they want in life, and then, how to make it happen. More independent study that teaches problem-solving tied to genuine areas of interest. More encouragement to take risks and try things, even if the result isn't polished and neat.
Life isn't polished and neat.