Myth #1. Education and school are synonyms. While it’s possible that education happens in school (and much of the time it probably does), education is far more than what goes on in the classroom and not everything that goes on in the classroom can be called education. Education is really about humans learning who we are and what we are capable of. That is no small thing. If we, even in our thoughts and attitudes limit ourselves to being educated by a teacher in a formal classroom setting we will be severely handicapped. You often hear of how amazing it was that Abe Lincoln or Henry Ford or Thomas Edison or Bill Gates or any number of remarkable individuals accomplished so much with very little education. This is a false idea. They did not have very much formal schooling, but they were very well educated. We put far too much emphasis on years in the classroom and diplomas at all levels in America. Mark Twain, ever pithy, said, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” Too true.
Myth #2. It takes lots of money to educate a child. Never, never think that because you don’t have many of this world’s goods that you cannot educate your children. The poverty trap is a false trap. It is a trap made of despair and giving up, not of lack of opportunity. God has so ordered this world that he gives abundantly to all who seek. The politicians, the school teachers, and especially the teachers unions want you to believe that without a computer for every kid in every classroom children will be stunted in their learning. They want you to believe that it takes a state of the art building with dedicated professionals and up to the minute text books to teach a child. They want you to believe that if only we had more funding we could finally teach Johnny to read. It is not true. I know. I have taught my own children far better than their public school peers with very little money (very little). What it takes is a dedicated adult and access to books. It doesn’t have to be a great many books, but the kind of books is important. Avoid text books like the plague (except for math). The library is the best resource for a parent who wants to educate their kids beyond what the schools can accomplish.
Myth # 3. Mistakes are bad. This one is almost tragic in its stupidity. Think back to your school days. Were you taught that mistakes are bad? Of course you were. Now none of us likes to make mistakes, but very often things we do not like are quite good for us, eating broccoli, for example. Schools have gone to extremes on this one in recent years, to the point where they want to fool the kids who have made mistakes into not feeling bad about them or even into not realizing there was a mistake in the first place. They ban competition of any kind, whether the spelling bee or the dodge ball game. They refuse to use red pen to mark assignments lest a child realize she failed at something. What a stupid notion. Mistakes should be recognized, corrected and learned from. Then we should try again and again, making mistakes all the way until we finally succeed. This is where self-esteem comes from, not from pretending we are all perfect all the time.
Myth # 4. Everyone is entitled to an education. I know, this one is tricky. I do believe every kid should be educated. I believe parents have a responsibility to teach their kids the best they know how and to open up opportunities and possibilities for their kids. And yet I do not believe anybody is entitled to an education. No, an education cannot be handed to a person, it must be earned, fought for, agonized over and cause blood, sweat, and tears in the getting in order to be an education. When you say everyone deserves an education you fail to recognize that an education is not something that can be given, but only earned. The rich kid who has been spoon fed and passed along from class to class, graduated and sent to a prestigious school, where because Daddy is a big donor, he gets great grades all while partying, has not received an education. And now that government has taken on the role of Rich Daddy to American kids they all have the opportunity to be rich spoiled snobs, but unfortunately they do not have the right to be educated. As I said before, it can only be earned, not handed out on a platter.
Myth # 5. Minorities and the poor are not as able to get educated as white middle class or rich children. I do not and have never and will never believe that minorities are not as intelligent as white kids. That is nonsense. But it cannot be denied that white kids end up with better grades, higher degrees, and better salaries, as a group of numbers anyway. As individuals these numbers are meaningless. Don’t ever let anyone make you into a statistic. No matter a person’s background they can choose to become educated. So what does hold so many minorities back? First of all, in many ways they have to overcome their own belief, fostered by government, in part, that they cannot succeed without significant extra help. Secondly, the schools in many poorer areas are, as discussed above, not synonymous with education. A parent who cares though can help any child to rise far beyond their peers. A child bent on learning cannot be held back by genetics, economics, or environment. There is no reason a child from a poor minority neighborhood cannot become educated and successful in life. Of course, we need to work to improve the lot of these neighborhoods, but I hardly think it prudent to wait on government and I would not and do not wait for someone else to come along and fix everything for my kids. I’ll take care of that, thank you very much.
More than anything else I want to convince parents that it is their job to educate their children and that they can do it. It helps very much to realize how the false ideas coming from the world of government education and the pseudo social sciences have crippled us and our kids. We do not have to settle for this, we can overcome it and reject their lies. Take control of your kids education. That doesn’t mean you have to take them out of school necessarily, but you should be the one in charge.