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True Education

“Education is not a subject, and it does not deal in subjects. It is instead the transfer of a way of life.”

G. K. Chesterton

There are so many choices in education. Public, private, charter schools, magnet schools, a combination, homeschooling – my family has experienced several of these, and I think parents should have as many choices as possible. No matter where and how our kids are getting their “schooling,” I realize more all the time that I am responsible for educating my babies’ hearts, minds, AND spirits - to help them become capable, caring adults who are ready to face the future.

Recently, I have been studying an excellent treatise on education from the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Here is an excerpt:

Parents, not government, are responsible for the education and upbringing of their children.

It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently…; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness.

-James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

In a broad sense, we must be careful not to use “school” and “education” interchangeably; school is merely one source of education. True education is the development of a person’s soul. It involves spiritual, emotional, and intellectual exercise.

That is why parents are ultimately responsible for ensuring the proper education and upbringing of their children. This means that no matter who else is involved, including school teachers, coaches, church teachers, or other adults, parents are to be the architects of their children's preparation for adulthood. Whether or not parents act on that responsibility, the fact is that they are accountable to the Creator for the children that have been entrusted to them.

Parents, not government, are responsible for the education and upbringing of their children.

I love this concept and, if true, family education is imperative. I get excited when I think of all of the things I want to make sure my kids learn and experience, yet it’s a daunting task. Too often, time seems used up with the mundane, and the beautiful things- the great books, the important truths- get lost or thrust aside. Though I wish I had understood all of this and gotten started earlier, I pray often that God will help make up for my shortcomings.

I appreciate this quote from Teaching, No Greater Call:

It is never too late. . . If you are newly awakened to your parenting responsibilities, take hope. Pray, exercise faith, and do all you can to reach your children and influence them for good. Robert Hales explained, “Certainly parents will make mistakes in their parenting process, but through humility, faith, prayer, and study, each person can learn a better way and in so doing bless the lives of family members now and teach correct traditions for the generations that follow” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 10–11; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 10).

I want my children

To know God,

To preserve and protect freedom,

To seek and know truth,

To foster and find beauty and love,

To understand Shakespeare, memorize Whitman, be kind, wise, have healthy relationships, and . . . the list could go on forever. There are not enough hours – not enough years.

No one knows our kids like we do. Nothing can replace a mother’s influence. We are educating whether we wish to or not- teaching by example. This fact both inspires and terrifies me, but it does motivate me to get up in the morning and keep trying! Motherhood- what an amazing calling.

In his 1910 work, What’s Wrong With the World?, G.K. Chesterton acknowledged mothers and their role as true educators:

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."

Thank you, Sir. I needed that. Now, onward, time is short, and I have educating to do!

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K.T. Keller
K.T. Keller
Mar 28, 2023

Great stuff here. And you are so right. Nothing can replace a mother's influence. Every day and even years down the road. Those seeds planted at a tender age or in moment of comfort, joy, or crisis -- they are there deep inside. As much as we may at times regret or resent what we did or did not learn or teach at that mother's knee part of life, there is a well of love and knowledge within us from it that is a resource. And our own children benefit from what we learned as children, and what we decided to add to those nourishing waters of mother-education.

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