Education for the Soul

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All references to ‘this article’ in the following post are referring to THIS AMAZING ARTICLE.

For those of us, my past self included, who fear what may happen to a child if we don’t do something to him called schooling, I assure you that I have asked the questions you ask and feared the things you fear. Having been public schooled myself, I was steeped in the force method of education. I wondered how allowing children space from society’s norms and standards could possibly be healthy, productive, or efficient.

But then I read, believed, and tried. The books I read 20 years ago before I began my home school journey with my children were instructive in ‘the way’ described in this article. I home schooled my 6 children from the beginning.

Before I read, believed and tried, even before I was married, I met a young woman. When I was in college at BYU, she worked with me. She was amazing. I was so intrigued by her self-assurance, her confidence, her ability. She had been home schooled. I had never heard of home schooling. But I decided that if my future children had a chance to turn out like this amazing person, I was willing to try.

Skip ahead 15 years. When my oldest was 12 I remember thinking, “How is this young man going to support a family in 10 years?” But, in a few short years, he went from 12 years old to college on scholarship. He took a break from college 3 semesters later to serve a mission for the LDS church in Spain. He is now working toward his goal of becoming a doctor.

My next, a daughter, has always had a power with words, but she didn’t read until she was 9. She hated and still hates math with a passion that I do not understand. She just hates numbers. At 17 she went to college, at 18 she was invited to be on the speech & debate team and offered a scholarship, at 19 she received her Associate Degree. She is currently serving a mission for the LDS church. I have 4 more children at home and I’ve learned to trust the process.

The process may not always lead to a 4 year degree. There are plenty of people I know, and know of, who are wildly successful without a degree. Note: when I say wildly successful, I don’t necessarily mean successful in a hedonistic way. Success is more than that. Are my children happy? Do they have empathy? Are they able to form solid and lasting relationships? I’ve noticed that this type of success comes when the principles of true education are followed. I see these principles everywhere in this article. But I was first introduced to them by Oliver and Rachel DeMille many years ago. See them here. These can be followed in a variety of educational settings. But, the freedom to follow them in public schools is almost non-existent in our test-and-measure society. When children are provided the opportunity to educate themselves, with great parents and mentors inspiring and working right beside them, education happens, though we don’t always recognize it right away.

If a child must be forced to learn, are they REALLY learning? Or are they being objectified? If just the task at hand matters, the standards to meet, the list to check off, where is the human being? Where is the mission that the child/youth, “trailing clouds of glory”, came with to earth? When are his proclivities, desires, and abilities discovered or considered? So many parents and adults have a preconceived notion of who a child will become. This creates an education for a goal, not an education for a soul.

In the WEIRD way of education (see article) something outside the individual chooses. The WEIRD way teaches a child what to think. Forcing a child to learn does “work” – most children will “learn”. But is the information retained, valued, and applied?

Many assume that the alternative to forcing a child to learn is to do nothing. Sometimes it is, but most of the time it isn’t. The beauty of this article is the revealing of ‘the ways’ that mothers, fathers, village leaders, and others in cultures outside our Western ‘civilization’ mentor – believing that every child is a genius, has a mission, and is not an object, but an individual, a soul.

I highly recommend this book by Oliver and Rachel DeMille, Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning. It is instructive in the why and how of the NON-WEIRD way. The NON-WEIRD way teaches a child how to think. This requires a mentor that views the child/youth as an individual, a soul, not to be forced, but inspired.

Also see this BOOK LIST for more reading suggestions.