Do you remember at least two of the main history lessons you learned in Grade 6? Or the molecular structure of ethyl alcohol that your chemistry teacher took so much pain to teach you in Grade 8? Or yet, the five kinds of Interrogative Pronoun that your English miss instilled in your teenage brain? I don’t, and I think most of you reading this don’t either. The only knowledge from school that has stood me in good stead in my adult life is learning to read, write and count. Everything else, I mean literally everything else, has served me no purpose at all in my job search and career development.
But the way our primary school teachers and our parents put their whole being into ensuring that we did remember them – by means of tests, exams, grueling homework, and punishments – it did seem to us at that time that if we didn’t remember those historical facts, dates, formulas, and grammatical technicalities, we were doomed for an adult life of failure in a rat-eat-cat world.
I regret to say this: most of those teachers who believed a student’s success lay in mastering schoolbook facts and formulas have continued to remain in the same station in their professional lives as they were when they taught us those now-forgotten lessons. How many of them have risen out of their current workpit to go on to become well-respected educationists in their community or country, or set up reputable institutions themselves? A very few have, but the overwhelming majority of them remained in their mediocre station in life, continuing to pass on quickly-forgotten knowledge each year to a new batch of young vulnerable minds.
It’s not just that what children learn in their schoolhood is forgotten within a few years after they bid farewell to their alma mater; many of the lessons they learn as immutable facts of life today become obsolete by the time they begin their lives as professionals. The grammar rules and language usage lessons become obsolete, the methodologies and technologies are replaced with more innovative processes, insights and solutions that seemed so revolutionary and effective are condemned as inadequate and even dangerous as newer understanding is gained.
So what can you as a parent do to give your child a schoolhood that will continue to be an influential factor all his or her adult life? It’s a profound subject I will cover periodically in my messages. But let me say this now: above all else, instead of focusing on the knowledge that your child is forced to feed on in school today, put your whole mind into ensuring that he or she acquires a love of learning, and a desire and ability to acquire knowledge on their own.
You do it by leading them to interesting experiences; by spending time with them, not by just helping them do homework but by hobbying with them; by never rebuking them for missing facts in textbooks, but praising them for any skill or knowledge they gained on their own through your encouragement and guidance. That’s the supreme gift you can give them during their school days. This is the most important factor in educating your child successfully.
May your children whom you are now encouraging to love learning and acquire knowledge by themselves, fondly remember in their adulthood how wisely you had laid the foundation for them to not only acquire the knowledge and skills for their success in life, but more importantly, to gain the true understanding of how to be a great parent and spouse themselves.