Educating Children for Life - 4 Lessons for Parents

Mother happy with children
Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.

- Bertrand Russell

 Education is the most sensitive, or rather the only sensitive aspect of a man's life which decides his destiny. It is not schooling. It is everything one learns and believes as facts, realities and principles to live by. As for schooling, it often contradicts with the true education a man believes in and lives by.
Parents govern and determine what a child learns and believes until he is on his own. Therefore almost one third portion of our lives, the one in which the primary structure of our personality is built, is not actually lead by us. It is lead by our parents and guardians. And when we become parents and guardians, we also lead that portion of our children's lives. It is here that we mark the success or failure of our children, and in turn, our family as a whole.
I once wrote:
A successful father is not more successful than his children.
The success of a father is to make his children more successful than at least himself. But that's not the case with majority of parents. It is not because they're not sincere with their children or don't dream big about their future. It is because parents fail to develop that insight about their own children which is essential for the young ones' long term success as humans, family-persons and professionals.
I have a few advices for such parents. These are not the results of far-fetched researches or outcomes of deepest meditations on the philosophy of education. They are self-evident realities that skip our attention just because they're too apparent.
Here we go!


Parents often tend to get rid of the responsibility of educating their children by assigning the duties to a "professional" teacher. I don't mean to insult teachers by saying "professional". I only want to suggest the sub-thoughts in parents' minds that a teacher who is trained in educating children is the one who should take the whole burden of this responsibility. But even if a kind teacher assures you of this, he can't.
Your child is educated by his family, school mates, bus drivers, next-door friends, the movies he watches, the parks and resorts he is made to visit, etc, etc. A child's mind is like a chunk of wax which gets imprinted by everything it comes in contact with. Parents have the greatest responsibility to review off and on what is he becoming like by keeping an eye on what impressions he is getting. And before the wax turns into stone, they must erase any bad imprints immediately.


We can't be omniscient, all knowing. We have individual emotional frameworks which make our interests different from each other. This difference of interests leads different people to be good or bad at different skills. And a child is far less a human than us from this point of view. His mind is not designed to perform equally well in mathematics, science, language, humanities, etc. There must be some subjects he would be good at, but being the best in every subject is something parents should get alarmed about. Your child is not learning, he's cramming textbooks. Even though there are prodigies whose genius manages to learn everything quickly, but you definitely know what your child is like. If you don't know, observe his learning capacity outside school. If he's as good as in the case of textbooks, you are blessed with a prodigy. If not, you need to work on a prodigy. Simple as that!
Learn what your child is most interested in among his subjects. Mostly this is the subject that's suitable for him. If he doesn't seem interested in any of his subjects, he needs education from you before attending a school. But forcing a child to perform good at every subject is definitely a blunder that results in making your child a cramming machine at best, or a gaming machine at worst!


Everything that a child comes across when is awake is his education. Children naturally believe what they are taught. It is very late that they learn to change their beliefs when necessary. And it is one of the most painful experience for a human being to challenge his beliefs at any stage of life. Parents should be careful about telling them the justifications and reasons behind things and events. It will lead to either a strongly held belief, or a painful transition to something else.


William Wordsworth said:
The child is father of the man.
This tiny father becomes a pain in the ass of the big father by the "genuine" issues he keeps raising all the time. For many parents, the inquisitive nature of children is one of the most irritating things about them. Even very tolerant fathers and mothers sometimes get confused, and consequentially harsh, about how to answer a question they never imagined or dared to ask.
The solution is not in aversion. It is in channelization. As we said, we're not all knowing. I believe even Einstein's genius wouldn't be able to answer some "questions" of his children. So, we must learn to redirect the curiosity of our child in some better way. We can refer him to someone else if we don't know the answer. Or if we know, and it's not the right time for the child to learn it, we may tell him that he'll know it by himself after some time. But scolding and forbidding to ask questions is not good at all.

Happy parenting. Happy education. Happiest next generation!