Montesquieu said, “We get three educations, one from our parents, one from school, and one from the world. And the third education contradicts the first two.”
If that’s even close to being true—and I believe it is—it raises an intriguing question: What is the education every child most needs?
Of course, there is a lot of information we need in life—I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about something beyond the fun facts and figures. I’m talking about an education that will help a child know how to live and how to laugh and how to love, how to have a good time in the world, and how to fulfill his or her own uniqueness.
There are two reasons why I raise this question.
First, I think about my own grandchildren and all the children we know. The better we understand what they most need in life, the better we can maybe help point the way.
Second, I want to understand this for myself! Even in my 70s, I’m still growing and learning as a human being, and I want to make sure I’m getting the education I most need! That way, I’ll be better equipped to help the kids.
Now think about it: you were once a child, and now you’re older. But did you get the education you most need? Most people haven’t and they’re the victims of the education our Culture gave us. So there may be some things we have to unlearn.
It’s like the story of the two painters who were painting the library of a famous professor. One looked at all the books and said, “Wow, this guy must know everything!” The other guy, who had met the professor, said, “Yeah, but he don’t realize nothing!”
The education every child most needs is one that would help her realize what she most needs to realize in life. It would give her a way to live fully in the world.
So starting next week, we’re going to look at a series of contrasts: Cultural Education vs. The Education A Child Most Needs In Life. It’s going to be one mighty smackdown!
I think we’ll find this helpful not only for the children we know, but also for us former children. Because what we’re really talking about is the eternal quest for wisdom.
So I leave with you with this line from Henry Thoreau: “Not by constraint or severity shall you have access to wisdom, but by abandonment and childlike mirthfulness.”
He’s saying, if we’re going to get the education we most need, we’ll have to relax and have some fun with it!