It’s sort of strange—we all care so much about our kids’ education. We want them to be smart and to take school seriously and to learn as much as possible. That’s all good. But we also all know that our kids are always watching us, that our actions inform theirs, that what we value shows them what they should value. And if you think back to when you were a kid, what appeared to you to be the best part about being an adult? No more school. Because that’s what we by and large show our kids: that education stops. That adulthood is like one long summer break. That graduation is the final destination of learning and studying and investing in your education.
This is a relatively recent phenomenon. Not that long ago, adults prioritized their own education as much as their kids. There’s the story of Epictetus teaching one day when a student’s arrival caused a commotion in the back of the room. Who was it? Hadrian, the emperor. Hadrian’s example clearly had an impact on his successor and adopted grandson, Marcus Aurelius. Late in his reign, a friend spotted Marcus heading out, carrying a stack of books. Where are you going? he asked. Marcus was on his way to a lecture on Stoicism, he said, for “learning is a good thing, even for one who is growing old. I am now on my way to Sextus the philosopher to learn what I do not yet know.”
If you want your kids to value learning, if you want them to never stop furthering the education you’ve been investing so much time and money and care and worry into, we have to follow in the footsteps of Hadrian and Marcus. We have to show them an adult committed to lifelong learning. We have to show them that wisdom is an endless pursuit. We have to show them we have not graduated, we are not on summer break, we have not arrived at the final destination of education.
That’s why, over at Daily Stoic, we created Stoicism 101: Ancient Philosophy For Your Actual Life!