When I advise parents on how they want to educate their child, my first question is always, "What do you want for your child?"
Many parents are surprised - many have the assumption that there is a "right way" to educate a child, which education experts have somehow determined.
From my perspective, that notion is as absurd as is the notion that there is one "right way to eat." Of course there are good reasons to believe that some diets are better than are others, and yet there are as many possible ways to eat as there are human beings. We can gather informed advice, but at the end of the day we must make our own decisions. And those decisions depend on our goals.
I would like to believe that most parents regard the happiness and well-being of their child as a primary goal. And, when pushed, most parents will say that it is. Terrific!
But realistically there are other constraints. How important is it for you that your child fit into society vs. finding their own bliss? How much time and expense are you willing to put in to customize an educational experience for your child, either to complement schooling or to substitute for schooling? How important is it for you that your child respect your family's traditions, your culture's traditions, your religious/spiritual traditions? How important is it that your child make a living as an adult? What range of careers/jobs are you open to as a parent? What moral or ethical beliefs are important to you? What would count as an ideal outcome for you as a parent? What outcomes would make you very uncomfortable? Are all parental decision-makers aligned on these questions, or are there tensions? What process(es) do you have to increase alignment?
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Many parents have not considered such questions or, if they have, only in a cursory manner. But whatever your goals as parents, the more carefully you've thought through these issues the more likely it is that you'll be able to achieve an outcome closer to those goals.
There are some who believe that we as parents should not try to determine our child's future. Kahlil Gibran expressed the most honorable manifestation of this belief a century ago:
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Both Maria Montessori and the Jungian psychologist James Hillman have expressed similar sentiments. I whole-heartedly agree.
At the same time, the environment in which you raise your child is critical. Some environments are more harmful and some are more beneficial. As you raise your child, it is worth spending time reflecting on what you regard as healthy and harmful elements in light of your long-term goals as a parent.