Your Own World Class Education

by Mary Ann on May 11, 2010

One of the great mom’s that I have worked with just can’t seem to let her children learn on their own. She really pushes curriculum for all of them ages five through eleven. I worked with her for a few weeks and then asked her why she was so set on giving her children assignments in math and spelling.

Her answer wasn’t surprising. She felt that she had wasted a lot of her childhood time not learning. She left high school with mediocre grades. She hadn’t read many books. She didn’t feel that she had used her time wisely or had learned self discipline. She felt really uneducated. She didn’t want her children to suffer the same malady. Yet for all her good intentions, she was having a daily fight with her two oldest children. She was pushing them and they were pushing back.

Now I want to say a bit about this mom. She is really intelligent and talented. She has formed her own business with a partner. She runs a beautiful home and family and her space is clean and orderly. Yet because of her school experience she feels like a failure. All that she does do cannot compare in her mind to what she feels she didn’t do.

She was on the conveyor belt and it didn’t help her love learning and so she only did what she needed to do to get by. There are millions of adults who have shared her experience. She was so uninspired by her school time that she didn’t go on once her mandatory 12 years were up. So she thinks she is not very smart and she is determined to save her kids from her fate.

So, she has taken them out of public school and put them onto her own private conveyor belt. She is seeing what she would have seen had she left them on the public school conveyor belt. They don’t love learning. Sometimes they give in to spare themselves nagging and sometimes they fight back. It has caused a lot of grief for them and her. She can’t see how to get out of the cycle.

This mom’s heart is in the right place. She wants to do what is best for her children but she doesn’t trust the process that her children can learn on their own. That they will love learning and in their own way and time will take off like rockets and have an impact on the world. She can’t believe that because she hasn’t ever seen it. It hasn’t been her experience. So what can she do that will be most beneficial for her children.

I think that the answer lies in this simple concept – she should get a world class education herself. She should begin to read and then read some more. She should read with and what her children are reading and then discuss it with them. She should read classics and then tell her children about the aha’s she has. She should show them papers she has written. She should get a group of families together who have all read the same book and they and their children should discuss it. In short, she needs to model a love of learning. She needs to see that the process will work for her and in turn for her children.

Too often we want our children to do what we say but what works best is when then can model what we do. I was really struck by this story found in Thomas Jefferson Education: A Home Companion:

“My own mother studied all the time but she never talked directly to her children about the things she was learning. We saw her doing things, but didn’t really know what it was all about. I like to show my children my study goals, explain to them why I chose them and how excited I am to do them. I show them my papers, my books, my notes, and the critiques I get back from my mentors. I stack my books up and have them handy during study time, so I can turn to a book on my study list if I am between helping a child. I just say, “I’m going to study chemistry while you study your music theory book. If you need my help, I’ll stop and help you.’ That way we are both productive, and they see me study in the background, so to speak. Sometimes I can’t help interrupting to tell everyone about something really interesting…”

This is how we overcome our disbelief that the system works; this is how we inspire and move along a love of learning; this is how we stop nagging; this is how we create.

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