We worry a lot about “education” in this country. On a political level we bicker and argue about why one state’s math scores are higher than another’s. And at home, we put our kids through a heck of a lot (and we sacrifice a lot) to make sure they pass their tests, know how to read and write, and can regurgitate their multiplication tables. We even stress about whether they are able to do so at the right age, or whether they are 6 months ahead or behind the other kids.
And all of that is important, but it’s nowhere near as important as a lot of other things in life that end up getting a lot less attention.
When my kids are grown, it won’t really matter if they got an A or a B in 7th grade history. It won’t really matter how far they can hit a baseball. It won’t really even matter much if they’ve made a lot of money or been “successful” according to the world. What will matter much more is this:
1. Are they humble – not that they think less of themselves, but that they think of themselves less.
2. Do they know how to be loved – are they humble and secure enough to be vulnerable.
3. Are they at peace – which means knowing who they are.
4. Are they filled with joy – because they live with a hope that transcends this short life.
5. Do they know they are small – that the world is not about them.
6. Do they know they are giants – that, to somebody, they mean the whole world.
7. Are they adventurous – willing to embrace a faith that will take them beyond the prison of their own limits.
8. Are they imaginative – able to see that the best parts of life cannot be measured or touched.
9. Do they embrace the moment – knowing that the present moment is the only moment they’ll ever have.
10. Are they virtuous – aspiring to the best parts of their nature.
11. Do they know how to give generously – because to give of yourself is the only way to find yourself.
12. Do they know how to love – because this is what they were made to do (and because I’ve shown them by loving them every day unconditionally and by introducing them to a God who loves them perfectly).
This is what I’d like my kids to learn. This is what “success” looks like. This is what I’d like them to “want to be when they grow up.” Everything else with the classes and the homework and the tests and the career path is all bonus.
You can earn a college degree without learning a single one of these things – and these are far more important life lessons. But, ultimately, if my kids don’t learn them, it’s nobody’s fault but mine.