So, one of the to-do’s I defined in starting to work on my fuzzy big goal of changing the world for the better, was to reevaluate our education plan for my own children. The logic is that I am passionate about education, and that what I want for my own children’s education most likely is what I would want for other children in the world.
My kids are still young (three and six) so we are still a little confused as to how to think about their education. Up until now we have had both good and bad experiences with schools and daycare. We have also, as most new parents, read many books on child-rearing.
Reflecting on the basic values we hold regarding our kids’ education today, I can see that the major influence has not been the books we read or the teachers we encountered.The major influence has been our own educational experience.
So what did we learn from our own experiences?
Learning point number 1 – Language and stories are key
Both me and my husband loved reading as kids. Hence, we have tried to instill a love of literature in both kids – they have an impressive book and audio book library already, a cozy reading corner with pillows and a reading light in their room, books in the living room and in the bathroom and we always read them a bedtime story. We believe language is the foundation for any education and this far our strategy seems to be working – both boys love books, stories and quiet time together with a good book.
Learning point number 2 - Practice and perseverance are more important than results
Another basic belief we hold regarding education is that you need to be challenged and supported along the way, on your level. Here our experiences differ, as my husband was supported and challenged to learn new things by his parents. My parents on the other hand never really got round to the challenging part. I had an easy time in school as I was always good with language and math, so I spent many years in school being quite bored. Also, with my personality comes a fear of criticism, so when I was younger I never attempted things where I risked failure. And my parents never pushed me. This was of course very damaging and stopped me from learning new skills and developing into a more well-rounded individual. From our differing experiences we have established “practice and you will learn” as one of the most important things we want to teach our children. We try to focus on their efforts rather than on the end-results, we encourage them to try new things and we make sure we are there for them when things get tough, as they sometimes will. This is the only way they can ever truly become all they can be.
Learning point 3 - Streetsmart kids make better choices
The third thing we find extremely important for our kids, is to learn about the world. For some reason my parents protected me from the world when I was little, they rarely talked about politics or explained more complex societal things to me. It must have been quite extreme, because even when I was in junior high-school I had quite vague ideas about what a university was… So we talk a lot to the children about the world surrounding them.We also try to read non-fiction books, always answer their questions truthfully and with my oldest son I have a very interesting mail conversation going where we discuss what we did today and what is happening to people and things around us. Knowing more about the world and how things relate will enable kids to make better choices and learn even more, now and as they grow up.Thinking about this now I realize we are not talking enough about environmental issues at home, this I will try to adjust.
So going back to the title of this post – what I would change about my own education if I could?
Well, the perfectionism that my parents let flourish by not challenging me enough has limited me a lot. I wish that they would have pushed me harder in fields where I did not immediately excel.
So what does this mean for my dream to change the world for the better? Too early to say. But I think it might be something important about how I view education and what issues I could pursue with passion.