What is the goal of schooling?
We send our kids to school for at least 13 years, from kindergarten through 12th grade – but how often do we stop and ask ourselves about the goal of all this schooling?
Some might say that learning is the goal but learning is just part of the process and, truth be told, it’s not even a guarantee. Ten kids can sit in the same classroom and participate in the same lesson but there is no way to guarantee that all 10 kids will actually learn something.
So what is the point of education? We think there are a few but perhaps we can sum them all up by saying that the goal of education is to train our kids for adulthood. We want them to be independent. We want them to be problem solvers. We want them to contribute to society and live with passion and purpose.
We want our kids to be resourceful. We want them to develop critical thinking skills and understand the tools available to solve problems — their own problems and the problems facing the world around them.
We want our kids to live with a sense of agency, an understanding that they are in the driver’s seat of life and they can always make choices. Similarly, we want them to live with what researcher, psychology professor and author Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset” — the understanding that they have the ability to grow and improve in any way they choose.
With all of these goals in mind, we the parents should have high expectations of our child’s education and a strong sense of responsibility for encouraging and supplementing it.
In the elementary years, we should see our kids developing a love of learning and exploring all sorts of interests. Regular visits to the local library in the evenings and on weekends can help our little ones become mini experts in the things that capture their attention. We can explore our backyards and neighborhoods and learn about the plants and wildlife that live there. We can cook with them, read to them and make supplies available for crafts and kitchen science projects.
By the middle school years, a few strong interests should begin to develop and we can help them fan one or two of those into a passion by finding places for them to dig deeper. Network in the community and find places where they can job shadow. Find clubs and activities and classes they can take that will further develop those interests. Libraries and museums are great places to start looking.
If we follow this path, then when high school rolls around, their main area of passion can take a more directed aim at a potential career that will give the student a sense of purpose. Talk to people in the industry and find out the best way to prepare your teen to excel in their field of choice. Instead of simply checking off the standard educational boxes, use the high school years to launch your student into a successful adulthood.
Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman are mothers with nine children between them, from an attorney to a pre-schooler, and one on the autism spectrum. Together they host a nationally syndicated radio show, “POP Parenting.” They are also freelance writers and international speakers. Get more information on their website, jenniandjody.com.