Can You Teach Them This?

You send them to great schools. You make sure they do their homework. You drill them on their flashcards. You are saving for college. You are not going to let them set their sights low like you did, or maybe you won’t accept them getting into anywhere less prestigious than you did.

Obviously this commitment to education is important—and, in moderation, healthy and admirable. As long as you’re not veering into the territory of being a “dream hoarder” it’s good to be ambitious about education, it’s good that you are making it such a priority.

It’s just also important that we remember, always, the difference between schooling and education. That we remember, as Einstein said, that the true value of education “is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”

So what if your kid has a fancy piece of paper on their wall or a great GPA? If they can’t think, what’s the point? If they have smarts but lack wisdom… life is going to be very hard, no matter how skilled or well paid they are at their profession. It does not automatically follow that good schools translate into the ability to make good decisions, or that because someone has graduated that they are familiar with and comfortable in the world of ideas. Just because they’ve spent hours in a classroom, doesn’t mean they understand civics or their duties as a citizen. You have to teach them that. You have to make sure they learn what matters.

You have to make sure they know how to think. You have to give them the true fruits of a good education.

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