Yet for all his early success, it wasn’t until much later in life—law school, in fact—that he was fully unlocked as a human being. There, he said, with the help of his professors, he was introduced to a “tremendous discovery: the discovery of the power of thought. Not only did I become aware of this powerful mechanism, the brain, but I became aware of an unlimited mass of material that was lying about the world waiting to be stuffed into the brain.”
Beautiful, no? It was this discovery that propelled Acheson into being not just one of the top legal minds of his time but eventually Secretary of State of the United States. Yet, it’s also a little sad. He went to Groton School, Yale College, and Harvard Law School. His parents were smart, too. But nobody was able to get him to realize the power of thought until he was in his mid-twenties? Crazy!
Our job as parents is not just to keep our kids in nice clothes and with full bellies. We have to help them make this discovery. We have to give them a sense of the sheer possibilities, the limitlessness of what a human can learn and study and explore in the course of their life. We have to introduce them to the dangerous world of ideas. We have to give them the muscles not only to defend themselves in that world, but fight to win inside it.
It’s ironic that many of our education efforts do the exact opposite. We prepare them for tests. We bore them with rote learning. We hide the interesting or controversial books from them. We bully them into our beliefs. Instead, we should be showing them what a powerful mechanism they have been given. We need to show them how to use it.
We need to unlock their brains… as early as possible.