Thursday, March 20, 2014

What is a "good" education?

As I've waded into homeschooling, this is something I've thought a lot about. What is a good education? Is it the ability to know thousands of facts? Do math in your head? Long division? Score high on a college entrance exam?

Sometimes, I think we've ended up on the shallow end of the education spectrum. Let me give you examples of what I mean.

I came out of school able to do loads of math problems, without really understanding the foundations those processes are built on. It took a hard and arduous college math class for me to understand that math is not a set of steps to get to the end of a problem. It is a logic puzzle, built from the very most basic premises.

I read many good books in school and I could write a winning essay on anything I read. But I didn't really learn to delve into a book and draw out the life lessons for myself until I joined a book club.

I memorized lots of dates, places and people in history. But I didn't learn to really put myself into history, instead of looking at it in hindsight through my own modern lens, until I read the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.

In our digital age, if you forget how to find the area of a circle, you can google it in 2.5 seconds. If you can't remember the exact year of Pearl Harbor, or the plot of Pride and Prejudice, you can find out almost instantly. Today, an education has to be so much more than memorizing information.

And these days, there's SO MUCH information. Too much to be able to truly know all of it. But what if, instead of training our children to memorize facts so they can bubble in answers on a test, we teach them to make connections? We tend to put history, math, science, literature, all in their little subject bubbles. But they are all interconnected.

I think we live in a time where we have to find the connections, see the overlaps, pull out the lessons. Sure, you can search it on google and find plenty of people to tel you what to think about one thing or the other, but a truly educated person should be able to come to their own conclusions.

To me, a good education will result in a person who knows quite a bit, but even more importantly, knows what they don't know and then how they can come to know it. Someone who can pick apart the flaw in others logic.

And beyond that, a good education should lead to a lifelong love of learning. Teaching kids to read means nothing if they don't ever do it after school. A truly educated person knows that they are always furthering their education and enjoys doing so.

A good education is more than knowledge, it is also life skills. A high ACT score is great, but we also need to make sure that people know how to manage finances, eat healthy, cook, take good care of themselves! There are so many skills I wish I had learned before now. How to fix a car, home repair, gardening.

A good education results in people who see a problem and not only want to help, but try to help, rather than assuming someone else can do it. They don't have to always be the leaders, but they should always be involved.

A good education leads one to look at the world in wonder and amazement. To go beyond the surface and see the miraculous in every day. It should teach compassion as well as independence.

These are just my hodge podge of thoughts. What do you think makes up a good education?

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