“Tell your son to have a great Christmas, and forget about this place for a while. Tell him not to even think about school.”
— Sage advice from a middle-school teacher with older children.
I want my children to take school seriously, but I don’t want them to think that it means everything. I want my children to have great memories, to witness the power of feeling good, to sense the connection of friendship and love. I want my children to be honest, to laugh and smile, to feel sorrow and sympathy for others with unmet needs. I want my children to be well mannered and humble, to believe in God’s power and His plan. I want them to feel comfortable and at home in the world. I want them to witness the beauty of nature and her intricate combinations.
These days, it seems that some schools have an over-zealous emphasis on academic achievement, which sometimes leads to a blinding stress on young people to excel. It seems to me that the current mission of such schools is myopic and threatens attention to the greater scope of education. What really are we teaching our children?
Listen to what Arthur Benson said of education in England some one hundred years ago:
It is all on the lines of an intellectual gymnastic; little or nothing is done to cultivate imagination, to feed the sense of beauty, to arouse interest, to awaken the sleeping sense of delight. There is no doubt that all these emotions are dormant in many people. One has only to reflect on the influence of association, to know how children who grow up in a home atmosphere which is fragrant with beautiful influences, generally carry on those tastes and habits into later life. But our education tends neither to make men and women efficient for the simple duties of life, nor to arouse the gentler energies of the spirit.
— Education, Joyous Gard
And then, listen to this definition of education according to the Oxford English Dictionary:
“Culture or development of powers, formation of character, as contrasted with the imparting of mere knowledge or skill.”
Today, I think it’s especially important that you think of home as a sancturary for your children and consider your particular influence in forming their character and finer qualitites. Teach them how to build their own Joyous Gard.
Day 22 Guide
I hope this Christmas brings you a little needed time to stop and think about the greater sense of education. Your influence is so important; talk often about the greater things – beauty, love and laughter.
© 2004 Levi Hill