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).

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