This word means different things to different people. The online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines education as: 1) the action or process of teaching someone especially in a school, college, or university; 2) the knowledge, skill, and understanding that you get from attending a school, college, or university; and 3) a field of study that deals with the methods and problems of teaching.
When our Founders created the Constitution, education was intentionally omitted. These wise men knew that educating was best left to local people – those closest to the child and knew them best. The early Americans had already shown that in the midst of battling the elements of the frontier, the settlers and pioneers managed to find a way to educate their children.
Most of us are familiar with the one room schoolhouse. Those austere buildings with one teacher were the foundation of formal American education. Children of all ages were instructed by one teacher. Chronological age was not the determining factor; the determining factor was whether or not the student had learned a specific skill.
The teacher in the one room school house was not aware of the numerous learning problems we know today. All she (and yes, she is proper because men did not teach in the one room school house!) knew was that some children took longer to learn a specific skill than others! Since there were no such things as grades – first, second, third, etc., age did not matter. All that mattered was whether or not a skill was mastered.
Anyone notice a recurring theme?
This seemingly unorganized, non-bureaucratic education provided the very foundation upon which the too-numerous-to-mention inventions and our modern-day conveniences evolved. Abraham Lincoln, considered by many to be our greatest President, was self-taught. Can you even imagine today’s headline if a Presidential candidate was self-taught? One current, potential candidate who did not finish college is already being excoriated by the press.
All children want to learn! And all children are capable of learning. True, some of them have problems that interfere with learning, but that does not inhibit their desire. It just means that their instructors have to discover what the problems are and accommodate the child.
Children, when left to their own devices, will create play. Play is a child’s version of education and learning. They gravitate toward the things they like and ignore those they don’t. And when there are no toys available, they will take boxes and whatever else they can find. This is called ingenuity, creativity, education – learning!!
I wonder how many inventions have happened because a person needed something, grabbed what was available, stuck it with something else, and voila! problem solved!
Sadly, much of this creativity is being quashed in today’s world of education.
By controlling everything that is taught (Common Core) and controlling how and when it is taught (federal money), local control, creativity and spontaneous innovation are lost.
Parents who try to secure instruction for a child who is not average – whether that child is challenged or gifted – are often met with bureaucratic red tape that can be daunting. They may give up just because the sheer volume of processes that must be navigated are too numerous.
Granted, life is not as simple as it was in the one room school house days. That does not mean that giving up control of childhood education is the answer. We do not want ”education” to become “indoctrination.”