Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lighting fires in hearts and minds

Education is TOO important

Before we go any further, we probably should define our terms:
according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary


1. a : the action or process of educating or of being educated; also : a stage of such a process
b : the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process
2 : the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools


a : to provide schooling for
b : to train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession
a : to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction
b : to provide with information : inform
: to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way


a : to cause to know something
b : to cause to know how
c : to accustom to some action or attitude
d : to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action
: to guide the studies of
: to impart the knowledge of
a : to instruct by precept, example, or experience
b : to make known and accepted
: to conduct instruction regularly in


a : capable of being taught
b : apt and willing to learn
: favorable to teaching
(originally started in August 2011 when we could see the finish line of educating our children at home which "formerly" concluded in December 2011)

Now I am racking my brain to remember what I wanted to say, since "Education is TOO important" is not a complete thought. I don't know what I was thinking at the time but there is a lesson that I have continued to learn since the age of 19, that lesson is that I need to remain teachable.  I have been listening to Andrew Kern of CiRCE Institute who says, "When you say, 'I don't know' then you become teachable." Frankly, I believe that all human beings need to be humble and be willing to learn, change their minds, look at things from a different perspective. We will never know all that there is to know.  

It would not be outside of my character to have thought, "Education is TOO important to just be left to the 'professionals.'" 
Let's think about that.

Education is too important to just be left to the professionals. 
(I thought that a calming photography might slow us down to contemplate that one thought. )

I am not a professional educator. However, along with my husband we have taught our own children who have gone on to college and have done quite well in those settings. (It is with sober judgement that I am able to declare this.) And I know that there are parents out there who have no business educating their own children and equally, and unfortunately, there are teachers out there who have no business being in the classroom.  
Teachers go through all that schooling are issued a certification in order to teach but there is something lacking that can not be learned in a book. Knowledge does not equal wisdom. Knowledge does not equal inspiration. Knowledge does not equal creative engagement with your students. To merely be a dispenser of knowledge limits both the student and the educator and a lot of times that is what education looks like. 

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." This quote is attributed to Plutarch and is my philosophy of education in a nutshell. After equipping students with the tools of learning, isn't education an opportunity to help students to think and reason for themselves? Don't we want them to learn and discover on their own as well as learn from others? Once I light a fire in the heart, mind and soul of a student, I want to see it ROAR! 

For me to say, "Education is TOO important to just be left to the professionals," is quite an assertion on my part. And I would say that it comes down to what is your definition of education. At the beginning of the post, I gave a number of definitions from Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Now I would like to turn to Noah Webster's 1828 definition which I think offers a broader scope. 


EDUCA'TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

When it comes to children this is a great definition. I have written and said before that I do not consider myself a teacher but I am an educator.  It has been a great experience. I haven't quite put it to bed yet. And at the end of the post from June 24 there I have indicated some of my concerns. 

Firstly, all children are naturally curious. They are curious about the world around them and other people and their own little selves. This curiosity should be guided never squashed. 

Secondly, education is not just about acquiring knowledge. Of course knowledge has its place in the spectrum of education but it is not the whole. Knowledge is only useful if you have the wisdom to be able to apply it. 

Thirdly, teaching is an art form. It requires you to be able to inspire those you teach. In order to inspire someone you need to get to know your students and what drives them. When you discover that you can apply the right spark to ignite the fire in each of them. 

Lastly and certainly the most important, remember that your students are people first. Those you teach are equal in value to you because each and every person is an imagine bearer. The first word about us as people is "God created man in his own image." Our students need to know that we care about them as people that matter. 

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