Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong

This is the title of an older book (published in 1992) on education by William Kilpatrick.  Surprisingly, I found this book fascinating.

I’m not one for books on education especially one that quotes studies and other books (which this book does a lot of).  But, just in case my school needs a new Board member, I’ll be ready (you have to read this book in order to apply).

What I took from this book (the overarching premise): Kids need to be taught morals through stories in school.  Kids need to be taught the classics so they will have a frame of reference in order to act.  They need to hear examples of heros such as Odysseus returning home to his family and David slewing Goliath as an under dog.

Every person has a story and kids need to be connected with their story.  If you lose your story and your place and significance in life, kids will be headed for trouble.  Stories help us to see our lives are worth living.  We are willing to endure suffering when the suffering has meaning.

Our greatest need is to find meaning in our lives.  We need to feel that we are getting somewhere, making progress.  This impulse leads us to buy books that have a plot since we want our lives to have a plot.  Look at Harry Potter.  He’s trying to save the world from Lord Voldermort and he himself is key to his defeat.

Acting nobly is not behaviors that come naturally to men so we need to hear about how to overcome temptations.

Fairy tales and hero stories teach that a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable and a part of human existance.  One must be able to overcome innate selfishness and believe he or she will make a significant contribution to life–if not now, then at some point in the future.  This is what keeps me writing–knowing in my heart some day I will leave my mark.

It’s a Wonderful Life resonates with so many people because the everyman learns his life does have meaning to someone.

Kids need to be taught to act against their own self-interest for the sake of something larger.  Kids need examples that go against our nature in order to learn what is right and what is wrong.

At one point Kilpatrick says, “One of the surest routes for bringing morality back to society is to bring back marriage.” (P. 250)

I LOVED this!  I wish more people would talk about the importance of a mother and a father to kids.

Of course, most of this book was preaching to the choir as I thoroughly agree with most of this.  But it’s good to read that I’m not the only one out there who believes this stuff and it’s good to just refresh myself on why I am such a psycho when it comes to my kids and their education.

This book is a must-read (okay, you can skip the studies and theories) for parents who want to know what a good education entails and looks like.  It has a whole section on what parents can do (again, I’ve already done all of its suggestions).

Lessons from Gilgamesh

I’ve been hesitant to give up homeschool and now I think I know the underlying reason–I have and am learning as much or more than my kids in the process.  I get to study what I want to study for once, investigate things and people I want to know about, and spend as much time as I wish.  This is probably one of the greatest benefits of homeschool and one of the strongest reasons to homeschool i.e. letting the child investigate what speaks to their heart and not what speaks to the State’s heart.

I grabbed a kids’ book on Gilgamesh more for me than my kids.  So I’m reading it and the afterward by a Professor Cyrus Gordon from my alma mater, Brandeis University (I wonder if he’s still around since this book is from the 1960’s).  It relates the historical significance/importance of this ancient Mesopotamian tale as it predates the Ancient Greeks and the Bible.  Particularly, it mentions the sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC (previously thought to have been the first known dates of Mesopotamian cuneiform)–the very subject I am reading about in the Bible in Jeremiah, Lamentations, and now Ezekiel.  This is all stuff I never learned in school and so visiting it a second time has been…wondrous.

So, the tale of Gilgamesh is the tale of a man who became experienced and wise in his travels; and learned what all of us must learn in order to be wise (despite having failed in his mission to obtain eternal life):  to make the most of our earthly lives without chasing rainbows that are beyond our grasp.

I agree and disagree with this.  I agree with making the most of your life, but I see nothing wrong with chasing rainbows.  Dreams are what give us life and my writing career is definitely obtainable.  In terms of little kids, that’s all my kids do–is chase rainbows, unicorns, Pegasus, dragons, princesses, princes, castles, and fairy tales.

It breathes life into them and that’s all that matters in this world.

I can still learn right along with my kids while they are in school.  I don’t have to stop learning (and neither do they) as long as I choose not to.  They receive the benefits of being with their peers at a regular school and I can still learn whatever I want whenever I want.