Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who Are You Educating Your Child To Be ?

Equip your child to be a leader
The journey of learning and leadership
Grow leadership skills
Educating future women leaders
Educating today's girls to be tomorrow's leaders
Strength and leadership
Leaders of heart and mind
Developing future leaders

These slogans jump out at me as I browse the local paper over a cup of tea. Schools advertising for students, public as well as private.

Educating your child to be the leader you want them to be

In my head I have an absurd picture of a school jostling with seven hundred leaders, no followers. Are parents really sending their children to schools strong in 'leadership' because they want their child to lead ? I'm struggling to understand wanting your child to be anything, other than his or herself.

I don't see education as a means of value adding, a way of shaping a child into something that pleases you.  It's a right, an education, and I aim to give my children an education because they have a right to it. Just as they have a right to housing and food and clean water and air. To give a girl-child her rightful education is particularly sweet.

What I don't do is educate them as a means of becoming. A leader, a doctor, a business woman, a politician, an artist, a town planner, a biologist, a mother, a sportsman, successful, wealthy; take your pick.

Children aren't becoming. They are. The life of a homeschooled seven year old holds as much intrinsic value as the life of a sixty year old High Court judge. Or a twenty year old garage mechanic. Education doesn't - and shouldn't - turn them into anything .

Education should offer them a series of skills, of tools, of information that they can use to grow their own lives, according to their own desires and the inner template they carry of what a good life looks to them. Leader, follower, iconoclast; how do we dare  assume to shape this, choose that ?


  1. Well, I'm so with you on this one, Melissa! Beautiful, vibrant words, as always. I had some bloggy thoughts about this myself a while back, so it's lovely to hear your thoughts, to be able to say YEP, and Amen, Sister! :) I love how ideas form, build, travel, resonate, connect and keep connecting. Like birds finding and re-finding each other mid-flight. From the tips of my toes to the ends of me, I say, YEAH to everything you've said. Thank you, Melissa.

  2. I'm glad it made sense Helena! Like all my rants, sometimes I'm not sure if they make sense outside my own head :)

  3. Wonderful post. I too am educating my children with the purpose of giving them tools to live the life they wish to live and be the people they wish to be. I don't want to mold them. I want them to mold themselves, and I'll give them whatever help and support I have to give to help them reach their goals.

  4. How I loved this post! I read it out to my daughter, who came and read it too. She said "I'm glad you're my mum and you read these things".

    This journey to homeschooling has helped shape my ideas of education and learning and BEING. I can't read those ads anymore, I can't be part of that system that changes my kids into something they're not.

  5. So well said.
    I don't care if my son is a leader, a follower, a penniless wanderer or a president, as long as he's awake and thinking. That's what they should be putting in their ads - "we teach our students to stay awake and be themselves, weird as they may be" - I might consider a school with a slogan like that.
    Remembering that education is a right got me thinking - if it's a right, it can't be an obligation. If there's something that my son isn't interested in, he shouldn't have to do it just because someone else thinks he should. It's my job as an educator, in any case, to give him all the options I can and explain the advantages of learning any particular skill - like leadership - so that he can decide whether or not it's something that will help him follow his passion.
    Very thought provoking, thank you.

  6. Its all about making parents feel better about molding their individual children into *things "we" can use.

    Glamor. Like all that glitter that is swept away when the sun rises and the carnival leaves town. Hollow suits, clay feet, no spines.

    Those are the kind of leaders that are meant. All you need to do is look around you. We see them all over the place.

    No wonder that ad disgusted you.