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Why Your Own Education is Just as Important as the Kids' Education

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

You can't teach what you don't know. You can't share what you don't have.

-Rachel DeMille

As parents, we want so badly to get it "right". Homeschooling parents spend hours and hours searching for the right curriculum, doing "school" with their kids, and finding the right classes for the kids to attend. Parents of school kids spend hours and hours helping their kids with their homework, making sure their kids are staying on track or ahead in their classes, and trying to supplement with more educational resources at home.

But on a weekly, or even a daily basis, how much do we focus on our own educations?

Why Our Own Educations Matter

Children naturally emulate their parents. When parents think of learning as a chore, the kids probably will, too. When parents hate math, the kids probably will, too. When parents think of education as something that is completed by the end of high school or college, the kids probably will, too.

If we want our kids to love learning, to see education as a lifelong pursuit, to love math or reading or writing (or whatever-subject-we-feel-they-are-missing), then we need to do that ourselves. If we feel negatively about school or education or math, we need to fix that in ourselves. If we have an aversion to reading, we need to shift that. If we hate math, we need to change that.

I've seen that this really works: the more my kids see me reading, writing, and even doing math, the more they naturally want to do the same.

As described in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, by Oliver and Rachel DeMille,

When kids see their parents studying their own interests, reading books for education and enjoyment, working out their own math problems, being passionate about their own educations... the kids will see that education is bigger than just job-training, that it is truly an enduring part of life.

It's Not Just About the Kids

Parents who prioritize their own educations help inspire their kids in their educations, but there are important benefits for the parents, too. When we parents make our own educations an important part of our ongoing lives, we are able to:

  • Reform our own attitudes towards education so that we can fall in love with learning,

  • Pursue our own passions and interests without feeling like we are taking anything away from the kids' educations,

  • Work towards preparing for and fulfilling our own personal lifelong missions, and

  • Nurture our own spiritual and moral development.

My Own Educational Experience

Before I learned about the principles of Leadership Education (aka TJEd), my own school experience had left me educated for a specific career in engineering, but poorly educated in other areas such as literature and history. I graduated college thinking that I was done being educated, that I disliked history and that it was irrelevant to anyone but history majors and teachers, and that cramming for tests and subsequently forgetting most of what I had "learned" was what education looked like.

John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down

For the last 5 years since I've been implementing Leadership Education into our home and home school, I've been able to deepen my understanding of what education is really about. For education to focus on just job preparation is to greatly undermine the true purpose of education. The ideal education has much more to offer than a good job: it offers a good life.

Giving myself "permission" to pursue my own studies has felt truly liberating (if also a bit daunting). Being exposed to great works (i.e. classics) has shifted my own perception of learning and created a hunger to learn more. And I have had so much more to share with my kids, because I know more and am able to make more connections between all of the typical subjects that are usually treated as isolated (such as science, history, and math).

Education as a Lifelong Pursuit

When parents prioritize their own educations, the benefits to both themselves and their children are tangible. Education should be a lifelong pursuit, not just a checkbox to be marked as "Complete" when the person graduates from high school or college. Rather than just preparing a person for a specific job or career path, an ideal education should prepare each person for life by building strong character, by preparing each person for their own individual life's mission, and by providing each person with a broad base of knowledge which they can rely upon in the coming years.

I'm no supermom, and the idea of undertaking my own education seemed overwhelming in the midst of all of my other responsibilities. Nonetheless, by steadily working at it, I've been able to make my own education a substantial part of my life. This has enriched my life immensely.

What has your own educational experience been like?

Do you have any negative lessons

about education to overcome?

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