I have long had a passion for education. Many of my high school teachers, after watching my lassez-faire approach to school work might wonder how this might have happened. It came much more from a love of learning than any interest in placing my lips upon the toes of any given instructor with the hope of getting good grades.
My own interest in education continued as my little boys went off to school and learned a thing or two about coping with public education, then college. My brothers and their spouses gave me several nieces and nephews who ended up being pretty bright, and did well in their various educational pathways. There were more than a few discussions at family get togethers that centered around education.
A number of years ago I was standing in line at the grocery store, and someone asked me what Corine and I had done such that our boys did well in their education. What I said over the next 60 seconds probably wasn’t so very profound. Clearly, there were several factors that were quite beyond our control, such as genetics and any given teacher’s ability to motivate. But having had 5 plus years to think about the question, I now wish to share a few distilled principles, some of which we did right … some of which I now see in hindsight.
1.) During the early years, language is huge. Read to your children. Read with your children. Push aside the electronics and find the books. The value in reading Harry Potter books may not be obvious, but when they take the ACT, it will show. Lastly, don’t dumb-down your vocabulary for your kids. They will figure out much more than you realize over time.
2.) Love is more important than grades. Any parent who puts so much emphasis on grades that their child becomes wounded or depressed when missing the mark, has gone too far.
3.) Failure isn’t a bad thing. Too many educators think that failure damages a student’s self-esteem. I believe that overcoming failure is what builds self-esteem better than anything. Shielding a student from failure does them no favor. In fact, many of the brightest kids around have failed way too little. It means they were rarely challenged.
4.) Love of learning means a lot more than good grades. Grades really don’t mean all that much. It is only a gauge of a teacher’s expectations … and those expectations aren’t always the greatest. Good grades may carry you to the next level, but love of learning will carry you through every aspect of life.
5.) Be curious. Love of learning cannot be taught. It is an infectious disease. You catch it from someone who also has it. Teachers who knew enough to teach their subject years ago, and haven’t learned a thing since should take up plumbing… it pays better, and you will be of more value to society. Parents, read a new book, venture a new hobby and analyze issues that matter. Pay attention to the news. (Just not Faux News … it’s worse than nothing at all!) If you love learning, your kids will love learning.
There you have it … DonC