As I’ve scrolled through Facebook these past couple of weeks, I've enjoyed seeing the photos of children as they head off to their first day of school. As with anything in the beginning there is so much potential, so much excitement, and perhaps some anxiety.
“This is the year my child will learn to read. Just think what that will mean for him!” Or, “This is the year my child must learn to read. I can't help but think what it will mean for him if he doesn't.”
There is potential either way. There is seeming success and seeming failure. While I am not a state licensed educator, I am a person who has been educated via both a private school and a state school.
I've been through our modern education system. I experienced failure and success, but was ultimately deemed an educated and successful product of the system upon my graduation.
But what does it mean to be educated? As children start back to school, how do we determine if they have been properly educated?
Think for a moment, as a parent, what are your educational goals for your children this year? Learning to read? All A’s? Obtaining a certain scholarship? Just passing to move on?
Think for a moment, as an educator, what are your educational goals for your students this year? To be a safe place for them during the day? To help them learn basic life skills? To exceed the pass rate of standardized tests by a certain margin?
Whatever our goals, they reflect our philosophy regarding what it means to be educated. Perhaps we view education as knowing a certain set of facts and information. Maybe we take it a step further and define it as knowing a certain set of facts and information in order to develop original ideas.
Charlotte Mason, a great educator said, “The question is not, - how much does the youth know when he has finished his education- but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
We can agree there is no way to know everything. Google would not exist if we could know everything! Knowing a certain set of facts is not the determinate of being educated.
As a young girl I remember riding to school one morning complaining about having to learn. My dad tried to explain that learning is lifelong and a wonderful endeavor. But I wasn't buying it. I thought learning throughout my whole life sounded awful. “When would I just KNOW?”
This was a long time ago, and my thinking has changed now, but how sad for a young person to feel tired of learning.
My hope for my children, in regards to academia, is that they will always be curious, have an appetite for knowledge and not choose apathy. I am aware they will not love every subject. It’s not my desire that they do. They are individuals with unique personalities, interests, and gifts.
My hope is to “spread the feast of a delectable education” before them in order that they keep their curiosity, grow a love for learning, and become the persons God made them to be, for his glory.
In my attempt to open many doors for them I plan to expose them to great works of art. I plan for us to listen to beautiful music by gifted composers. I plan to read, read, read! And not just read any thing but to read truly good books and poetry. I am selective in what we read even now as they are very young.
Henry David Thoreau said, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
I love being a mother for countless reasons but one thing I am enjoying most is learning with my children. I get to discover new books, see great works of art, and enjoy new music and poetry that I missed during the years of my formal education.
I get to really dive in to those subjects and ideas that may have just been touched on in my school days. My own children will have areas of interest that they will want to explore deeply as adults. Learning is an exciting facet of all of life.
As this new school year gets going, let’s consider what we want for our children and students. I agree, concrete goals can be good. Certainly aim for acquiring that new skill, aim for obtaining that scholarship.
But keep a higher ideal in mind, “The life of education has to include the whole of our humanness... His mind is the instrument of his education...his education does not produce his mind.” Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Or as Miss Mason so strongly believed, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a LIFE.” May our children and students be truly educated this year. May they live life well and care.