There’s a new fad sweeping through Hawaii’s schools.  The Kendama!  You know, that little cup and ball and string that you played with for two seconds when you were a kid?  Well, this isn’t a dinky little toy anymore.  In Hawaii, there are competitions and tournaments, where Kendama champions show off their coolest tricks!

At the school where I teach, Kendamas are at a fever pitch.  The recess playground is filled with giant mobs of kids all playing Kendama.  And they are pretty expensive!  It’s hard to find a Kendama for less than $30, and the really good ones can cost more than $50.  All for a wooden toy, with some string.

Why is it good for kids?  Because it’s a fad, and fads are healthy for kids.

Economists generally agree that the most important trait for entrepreneurial success is the ability to predict the future.  Economists call it foresight.  With a fad, like the Kendama craze, nobody really knows where the fad will go next.  Will blue Kendamas be “in” next, or red ones?  Perhaps a new kind of trick will impress everyone.

If you are the first to the playground with the coolest new trick, or new color of Kendama, then you will be the most popular kid in school.  You’ll be a trend setter.  Everyone will be talking about the awesome trick you pulled off, and they’ll try to copy you.  Pretty soon, the whole school will be copying your trick.

Not all tricks will catch on though.  Sometimes a new trick will flop.  Or a kid will buy a new kind of Kendama, and everyone will think it’s ugly.  Kids can be pretty tough!

The other day, I saw a kid walking with a new sort of Kendama.  The Pill.  I’d never seen a Pill before, and to be honest, it didn’t really look that great to me, but what do I know?  I’m not a kid.  A few weeks later, it seemed like almost everybody had a pill.  Kids were pulling off cool tricks with it, and impressing their friends.

I believe that these kids are practicing a valuable concept for success.  They are learning foresight.  They are learning how to get to the market (playground) first with their new idea.  And they’re taking big guesses about what will catch on with everyone, and what will fail.

Those trend setters will have a head start in the business world.  Businesses are constantly trying to predict the future.  They try to anticipate what people will like, so that they can provide for it, and become popular.  The business world is basically a giant popularity contest.

So the next time you see adults roll their eyes at kids who wear the latest fashions with mustaches on their hats, or black stockings, or the next Kendama color, just remember that they are probably learning a lot more on the playground, than they ever will in the classroom.