The secret of any great education is love of learning.
Note that the phrase here is love of “learning,” not love of “schooling,” or love of “education.” Learning should be the focus of schools and education, but this is not always the case.
Many schools and educational institutions have become big business, and indeed modern regulatory complexity has forced most schools to put business above learning.
This is a disaster for education and the future of our society.
Getting young people to love learning is not nearly as difficult as getting them to love formal schooling.
Indeed, it is nearly always as simple as parents reading to children.
When a child grows up being read to daily in the greatest classics, she usually develops a great desire to learn as much as possible.
Even young people who don’t have this experience still tend to be inquisitive, interested and engrossed in something. Some students learn better in the classroom environment, it is true.
But it is equally true that some do not.
In short, the focus should be on learning. If the emphasis is on schooling, then students are forced to participate in school regardless of their learning styles.
They are labeled “failures” when in fact it is the school which has failed them.
In contrast, if the focal point is learning, school is used for students who learn best in the schooling environment and other venues are applied where they are more effective.
Every child can learn, and it is up to us to help each of them find his ideal learning environment and flourish in it.
This entire debate—schools versus learning—boils down to one question:
“What is the basic unit of education? Is it the student? Or is it the government, the corporation, or something else?”
In many cases, government agendas dominate the structures and administration of public schools and corporate interests rule many private schools.
Making students alter themselves to fit the institutional realities of schools directly trains adults who naturally work for the objectives of government and corporate institutions. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just business.
But learning is more important than business.
It creates our future.
It determines the future of culture, of class-based or non-class society, of freedom or slavery, of economic opportunity or stagnation, of entrepreneurial success or spreading dependency, of prosperity or poverty, of national progress or decline.
The quality of our learning, perhaps more than any other factor, will shape the future of our families, relationships, communities and moral choices.
Learning, or its lack, impacts nearly everything in our society.
Along with the move to schools as the center of our educational processes in society, we have stopped seeing parents as the experts in learning.
We have placed as our educational experts an entire industry that is expert on schooling—but not necessarily on learning.
This nuance may seem irrelevant to some people, but it has a major impact on the quality of our education as a society and generation. It is hard to overstate how much this small detail weakens our nation.
We are a society widely schooled and widely shallow of learning.
Allan Bloom lamented that our modern nation of Ph.D.’s and M.D.’s has little of the quality learning once enjoyed by the average citizens in America. In this environment, not only are schools big business, but the debate about the future of education is big business as well.
We will never solve “the education debate” because it is centered on schools and how they can meet the demands of the government and market. As long as this is the debate, every new “fix” will be a fad—nothing more.
We’ve got to get back to the real discussion, the dialogue about learning.
Learning, not schooling, is the real question and the real point.
The focus of any truly quality educational system and school must be on how each child learns and on finding ways to help each child best flourish in his learning pursuits.
This is the ideal.
Society may never make such a shift, but each parent should do it for every child.
Making this shift in your family will make all the difference in the quality of education your family members experience.
And, as bestselling author Alvin Toffler noted, financial success flows to those who learn individualism, creativity, independent thinking and entrepreneurial initiative.
Personalized education is the key to learning, and any truly great education ultimately boils down to learning that is personalized, individualized and founded on a deep love of learning.
If you want to immediately boost the quality of education in your family, put the emphasis on learning.
Schooling can be a valuable part of learning for many students, but learning must be the guiding principle.
Oliver DeMille is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, The Coming Aristocracy and other books on education and freedom. He has taught graduate courses on the complete writings of Thomas Jefferson, The Federalist Papers, Aristotle’s Politics and other great classics of liberty. Oliver is a popular keynote speaker, writer and business consultant.
Presently, he is active as a founding partner with The Center for Social Leadership and he devotes a majority of his time to writing. Oliver is married to the former Rachel Pinegar. They have eight children.