The Education Every Child Most Needs, Part 4

[Note: As part of my research for a children’s book I’m working on, we’re contrasting the education that the culture gives us vs. the education a human most needs in this world. This is adapted in part from an essay by Landon Saunders entitled, What Every Child Comes Into the World to Learn.]

Our culture teaches fear—in all kinds of ways.

Now, the education a person most needs—it wouldn’t teach us how to get over our fears. Fear is a part of life. But it would show us how to get the upper hand on fear.

And the importance of this starts early. A baby is born with two fears—sudden noises and the sensation of falling or being dropped. All the rest we learn.

My five-year-old granddaughter wanted me to help her make a book. “What’s the title?” I asked her. She said, “Why are nightmares so scary?” So we folded some pieces of paper and numbered the pages and put the title on the front.

Then she started drawing pictures inside: a green goblin, a ghost, a haunted house, and others. As I watched, I realized that she was using art to get the upper hand on her fears.We had a nice little talk after that.

But I know, as she grows up, she’ll have other fears to face.

In fact, as we go through life, we sometimes get weighed down by fear. It becomes our iron-clad security blanket. Our self-imposed prison. We cling to it. The gravity of fear keeps us down and keeps us from rising, keeps us from the levity of joy.

Emily Dickinson writes about the way Fear can become King:

We never know how high we are

‘Till we are called to rise.

And then if we are true to plan

Our statures touch the skies.

The heroism we recite would be a daily thing

Did not ourselves the cubits warp for fear to be a king.

So, for us adults—as well as these kids as they grow up—getting the upper hand on fear truly is the education we most need.

Getting the upper hand on fear gives life the beauty of courage. It lets you look trouble in the eye until trouble blinks. It reminds you that you are greater than anything you’re afraid of. It lets you just be yourself. And it can be tremendously freeing!

Plus, this can equip us to model these attitudes for the kids—a great gift to give them.