I will say this right up front. I am a product of an excellent public school background, and while I did attend a private school for my senior year, the foundations for learning, education, and wisdom were not affected by anything other than the local school district. I also attended a public state university. But as an adult, I am a homeschooler at heart. Yet none of what I am going to address is meant to criticize any one of those educational choices.
The truth of educational choices is seen in this question. “What have you done lately?”
As an adult, no one has ever asked me where I went to elementary school or high school other than to connect with me on Facebook or to answer the question of where I’m from. No one has cared too much about which college I attended unless they want to presume my favorite football team or playfully engage in some team rivalry. You see, it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is how well I am performing my tasks every day and whether I can be trusted to contribute in meaningful ways to those around me. My school choices don’t matter as much as what I am doing with my education. My school limitations don’t matter as much as my ability to overcome obstacles. What matters is not where I went to school, but how I let school impact me now and how am I using my abilities now.
I think this is a valuable lesson to remind ourselves no matter what educational setting we find ourselves, or our children, being immersed in. What we do with the educational choices is far more significant than the actual choice we make. Some of our choices are affected by geography, income, opportunity, etc., and for that we can’t find fault in the choices that we have to make, or that others make. What we can do is to encourage our students to make the most of the offerings before them. As parents, that is part of our job. As educators, it includes the responsibility to give the best education to our students and the tireless encouragement to see them make use of those offerings.
The ultimate issue in education, whether you are a student, parent, or educator, is what you are doing now to learn and grow more fully into your role. What have you done lately with your skills? No matter the setting, public school, private school, or homeschool, the goal is to prepare students for competency and excellence in their mental, academic and social skills. For many, especially me, the spiritual training of our students is also a priority, if not the ultimate priority. Each of those areas matter, but students can no more rest on their laurels than can we. Once prepared, we must be taking action with those skills. Preparation is always meant to lead to something; it’s not the end goal.
If the greatest description we can give of ourselves is to identify with where we went to school in the past, then we have failed to grow into our potential. Actually, we’ve just failed to grow. Likewise, if we are only preparing our students to attend a particular school, or to have a limited perspective of which types of schools are good, then we are not letting them see the value in their education. Excellence in education should go well beyond the choice of a school, and be about the choice of daily actions. The actions that result from being fully prepared will significantly contribute to excellence around them us adults, and that is how we train our students to make use of their preparations.