I think that a child should learn first how to be a proper human being, and then a scholar. Most schools seem concerned only with filling a child’s head with facts, pushing them on through one grade to the next regardless of knowledge retention, and teaching them how to stand in line and ask for permission to go to the bathroom. Virtuous character is more desirable in a child than head knowledge, but it takes considerably more effort to create one than the other. The most important things that children should learn, in my opinion, are:
– To embark on the journey of understanding themselves.
– To seek God.
– To love others.
– To hunger for truth.
If a child learns these things, then I would say that they have the potential to develop into the kind of person who brings joy, inspiration, help, and blessing to their community and the world around them. Of course, that doesn’t have to be the end of education; it is just the foundation. Here are the other things I believe every person should seek to learn over the course of their lives. The activities listed are the subjects that aid both children and adults in developing their minds:
– To love beauty (music, art, dance, the natural world, and many others).
– To learn how to think outside the box (creativity in all subjects).
– To learn how to think logically (formal logic, brain teasers, puzzles, math).
– To learn how to gain understanding for themselves (writing, reading, religion, philosophy).
– To learn how to express themselves (writing, reading, language, grammar).
– To learn from the past so that they can become aware of the future (history, philosophy, politics, archaeology).
– To learn why things work the way they do (science, biology, mechanics, physics, math).
– To learn practical mathematics (budgeting, taxes, cooking, business math).
– To learn practical life skills (household chores, cooking, gardening, sewing, car mechanics, child-care, computers, social interaction, volunteer work).
If schools today followed these basic goals, I bet that half the curricula could be thrown out. Also, children would probably need to spend a smaller portion of their day actually “in” school. But then… this would mean that parents would have to take more interest in their child’s education! And it would mean that children would have to learn to be more self-directed! *gasp*
The goals outlined above are what I think every child should graduate high-school with. But here’s something I want to stress, what I think the backbone of this pre-college education constitutes: if this plan was followed, then hypothetically each child would most likely, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, gain some sort of idea as to what they want to pursue as a vocation. If a child has been given the freedom to investigate areas of interest to them in their early years, with opportunity to “try out” various trades or occupations, then there is very little that stands between them and finding their career of choice. Through taking early college classes, volunteering, job-shadowing, and/or part-time employment, a teen can narrow their job interests down to what they might really like to do.
For example, if a teen is interested in becoming an architect, they will want to go on to study more advanced mathematics and drawing while still in high-school, most likely by taking outside classes to gain increased understanding and instruction in these subjects. This will give them a chance to see if they have a real proclivity for this profession, and also give them an added advantage in their knowledge even before they formally enter college to major as an architect.
I believe that children should have a great deal of free time, that they should be allowed and encouraged to study things that interest them, and that hours upon ridiculous hours of rote schoolwork are unnecessary and even detrimental in elementary schools. I think that children do have a natural inclination to learn because they are naturally curious; however, I question the idea that the majority of children have the drive or diligence to pursue a plan of all-round learning that will benefit them the most in life. This is something that I am exploring in my studies on learning. Children are very different, and need more or less structure in their lives depending on how self-motivated they are or are not. How much structure? How much freedom? What is the balance?