I read somewhere, I forget where, that the only people who ever get a truly great education are those who just plain stand up and demand one. They do this in spite of schools, bureaucracies, and the educational system—not because of these things.
When I first heard this idea, I was shocked at how true it is. Some of your students are going to get a superb, excellent, genuinely great education—and it will be those who stand up and demand it.
The truth is that getting a great education takes a lot of passion, diligence, and hard work. So unless someone really wants it, they’re going to find substitutes, and justify why a mediocre education is sufficient.
But every student deserves something better – an education that is truly excellent.
Big Questions and Their Answers
The fundamental question for teachers and parents is, “How can I help my children and students be among those who stand up and demand the level of education they deserve? Since every student has genius inside, how can I inspire them to freely choose to earn the kind of great education that matches their life mission?”
These are big questions. But the answers are actually pretty simple. And there are two of them.
First, we need to set the example. There is nothing more inspiring, more motivating to our students, than setting the example by being the kind of person who stands up and demands a truly great education—and then goes out and gets one.
If you are such a person, your example alone can be incredibly stirring and encouraging to your students. If you aren’t, it can’t. But you can get started right now.
Get a great education, and invite your students to do the same. This is powerful teaching, powerful parenting. Great example is truly profound. There is no substitute for it. Nothing inspires like just being great – or just being hungry.
The second way to help students stand up and get a great education is to invite them. Once you’re setting the example, you’ll be on fire with a love of learning, a passion for knowledge and wisdom. Just tell them how much you love this. Talk to them about what you’ve learned, and especially about what you’re learning right now, yesterday or this morning. This is incredibly inspiring and moving. Somehow this reaches right into their hearts and deeply touches them where it counts.
Impact and Side Effects
When you do this, day after day, week after week, it’s almost impossible to stop your students from getting a great education. This assumes that they’re youth, not toddlers, of course. But even with toddlers, setting the example of great learning will rub off—and a few years from now they’ll be insatiable seekers after a great education.
This is what it means to come face-to-face with greatness. This works. And it also has a side effect: In the process, you’ll get a superb education, one that truly matches your mission and your potential greatness in life.
And what if that was the whole point, anyway? Is there any chance that in the grand scheme of things, your level of education, preparation, and passion might have some intrinsic (and not just symbolic) value?
Just a thought.
Mentor Prompt: Isn’t it time to take your learning to the next level? Start with the classics.
- For help in getting the Leadership Education model into your heart, mind, and daily routine, join Oliver for our TJEd Implementation course, Mentoring in the Classics >>
Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd. He is the NY Times Bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.