Education is a fascinating topic. Our cognitive abilities set us apart from all other living creatures and it is necessary that the development of our minds is near the top of our life goals. Thinkers, from Plato in the fourth century BC to Rousseau in the eighteenth century to John Dewey in the twentieth (among many others) have pondered the question and sought the solution to “what type of learning best cultivates the “whole person”-- a person with well-developed intelligence, integrity, sensitivity, and logic. Most great educators have argued that “education is not just about the passive assimilation of facts and cultural traditions, but about challenging the mind to become active, competent, and thoughtfully critical in a complex world” (Nussbaum, Not for Profit). I agree, and I believe there is so much more. After many years of managing my children’s education, I have found the following nine elements to be necessary to develop a “whole child”
1. Children must feel loved and supported by their parents and mentors, which may be any adult that has the child’s best interest in mind. A strong family produces strong children.
2. A child’s curiosity and desire to learn must be constantly fed and nurtured. Anything that suffocates this curiosity and desire should be scrutinized and possibly abandoned.
3. Building a strong character and developing virtues (honesty, respect, love, and loyalty, to name a few) must be a common thread in all lessons - both in school subjects and in family life - to develop a responsible adult and a contributing citizen in our world.
4. Children should study the core curriculum with a purpose. They should know why those subjects are necessary for life and have real-life examples of how they can use that knowledge in the future.
5. Exposure to a broad range of cultures, traditions, and religions is necessary to nurture respect and empathy for others who are different, thus avoiding prejudice and apathy.
6. The ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and take responsibility for one’s view. Speaking out for one’s own convictions allows truth, fairness, and democracy to flourish.
7. Exposure to the humanities- philosophy, history, literature, music, art - the study of which enables us to understand the thoughts, individual expressions, and souls of others. This development of empathy is essential in responsible leaders and contributors to society.
8. Chores, physical work, and exercise. Physical work helps children develop an appreciation for those who work physically for a living and also to respect any item (a meal, a fence, a clean house) that has required physical work. Exercise is essential to a clear mind and stable emotions.
9. Quiet. Too much schoolwork, too many organized activities, too many commitments or distractions keep all of us from taking the time to be mindful about who we are, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Each day, we need an element of quiet during which we can be introspective and thoughtful.
At The Thinking Kid, we are building a program that introduces all these facets into our curriculum, which is taught by dedicated and experienced teachers on an online platform. Because of technology, we are able to gather the brightest and impassioned teachers into our academy to help you prepare and guide your child through this complex world. What a beautiful adventure it will be!