How do you define a good education?

A lot of what Kate Distin speaks about in Gifted Children-A Guide for Parents and Professionals really touches my heart. It was the impetus for my Dear Gifted Child post and inspired this one too. 



We all want the best for our children and realize that education can be the ticket to a “successful life”. But what defines the perfect education can differ across cultures and can vary from child to child. Consider your child when you define your child’s education.

Both of my boys are still relatively young with one just entering the teen years, but as a former classroom teacher, current homeschool mom, and future educational facilitator, I’ve thought of little else than what I want my children to learn in life to prepare them for the future. But, goals for education don’t begin upon graduation. They start now.



The Purpose of Education



For my children’s education I want:


    • A strong sense of self
      Within knowing who they are, all children need different supports. They have different strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these is imperative to learning. Education needs to be able to meet each individual’s needs. With a strong sense of self also comes the responsibility of doing what’s right for you.


    • A sense of competency/capability
      All children need to feel capable of giving their best and of being supported in their goals.


    • Self-sufficiency
      Though we all need help and support along the way, I want my children to realize that the hard work and determination they put into their efforts comes from their internal motivations. No one can make you learn. It’s up to you.


    • A personal understanding of success
      Often we allow society to influence our definition of success. Financial gain and power are the most prevalent definitions of success, but they fall short when it comes to internal satisfaction unless they accompany our personal goals. Defining success in your own terms is not only empowering, but necessary to be your best self.


    • Appropriate levels of challenge and support
      Everyone needs a challenge and in order to attain high levels of personal success, people of all ages need intellectually appropriate challenges that amplify our strengths, improve upon our weaknesses, and internally motivate us to do better, be more, and affect positive change.


    • Purposeful learning
      As a teacher, mother, and learner I’ve seen numerous examples of activities intended as learning that evoked little curiosity, impetus for exploration, applicability to individuals, or regard for the learners. Purposeful learning teaches foundations, broadens conceptual understandings, appeals to individual interests or goals, and excites learners to extend their own learning. Be it self-directed or facilitated by someone else, purposeful learning is worthy of time and attention.


    • Whole child learning
      Without regard to individual temperament, drive, interests, and goals, learning can be empty and lacking. Taking into account everything about a child is crucial to guiding students to be their best. Genuine learning does not only mean academics, but all aspects of the learner.


    • A curious learning atmosphere
      One of the biggest struggles I have with the current climate in education is that it is detrimental to instilling curiosity in our children. Without the autonomy to pursue individual interests and goals, learning becomes stilted and learners become jaded in a system that isn’t serving their individuality. Curiosity takes time, acceptance, and support in the scope and pace of all learners. It is possible, but will require a shift in the educational paradigm.



Most importantly….I want my children to love learning. 

How do your educational goals differ? Is your child’s education meeting his needs?

5 thoughts on “How do you define a good education?

  1. The ‘personal understanding of success’ point resonates highly with me. It was only a few years ago that I graduated university with all the bells and whistles the system could bestow. Yet, I felt like a fraud. I’d succeeded so brilliantly by the way ‘we’ measure student success, yet I’d failed so miserably by my own- I’d lost friends, I was nasty, envious and anxious and terribly confident. This is what wrote about that time: “Give me any syllabus and any deadline and I’ll pass your test. Tell me exactly how you want to judge my success and give me 5 years, I’ll show you what’s possible. But, please don’t ask me who I am… that’s the one thing I do not know.” Lisa, my thoughts on the final line are different. I don’t feel a need to inspire love of learning necessarily, just a sense of life! Of what it means to be human this vast, messy, changeable, dangerous, beautiful, familiar and exotic world! I think that learning is so necessary to real living that we sometimes make loving ‘learning’ the goal, when we mean love of life? Just thinking out loud here. You know I admire your thoughts and conversations.


    1. I see the curiosity and love of learning fade from so many students’ eyes, but you’re right, Leah- it’s the fire of living going out. I think that’s why it bothers me so much to see that light go out in children and wonder how they’ll recapture it. They have no idea how hard the world really is and if they already feel defeated….


      1. I hear what you’re saying. For me it’s all about person-to-person connection; like for someone you admire to say “I see you, I understand where you are coming from, I enjoy talking with you, your voice is important to me.” This reignites that fire. It’s never completely gone. It’s my belief that this is difficult in the school environment because teachers, on the whole, feel pressured into being able to say these words to every student in all their classes; this is simply impossible. As a student I never knew which teacher to go to because they were all trying so hard to ‘be there’ for every student but, really, if each teacher looked inside themselves to discover why they are really there and found a way to communicate this to students then I, and all my friends, would have had a person to talk with e.g. if a teacher knows what it is like to grow up with instability, they could say this and those students will know that teacher can empathise… if a teacher knows what it is like to grow up with people who don’t read and draw blanks when you talk, they could say this and those students will come. What do you think?


      2. I agree. I think most people are too afraid to put themselves out there for whatever reason. I’ve also been accused of being too close to my students and by giving them “permission”to use the bathroom when they need to or debate with me over a grade, some adults in education have been threatened by me. To me, it was called treating them like a person. The issue is respect vs. authority.


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