Another homeschooling week has begun and right now, I am dreading the start of the week. As I typed this earlier in the day, my sons were having fun playing with water, wishing they could go swimming rather than going to Math. The last time they went swimming was the summer of 2019. But the fun they experienced lingers on till today. So what then is the purpose of education, if it doesn’t include memories or experiences that linger years later.
In a new blog post, Dr. Angela Duckworth, the author of the best-selling book ‘Grit,’ tackles this topic head on. To her, and quoting an essay by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the purpose of education is ‘intelligence plus character,’ character being the goal of true education. But what is character? Again, citing the work of others like psychologist Diana Baurmind, Dr. Duckworth notes that ‘character is personal integrity, honesty, and social responsibility. Character is also persistence in the face of obstacles, self-discipline, and work ethic.’ If there is one thing, I have learnt through homeschooling, schools spend a lot of time focused on the intelligence aspect of education, but not enough time in the character building aspects. I am motivated to help transform my kids homeschooling experience into one that fosters character building. Activities that help them think about right and wrong or emotions such as empathy and compassion or behaviors such as sharing, donating to charity or telling the truth, matter a lot more that simply learning math or reading or even science.
For when the dusts settles and the pandemic ends, what really would have been the purpose of my version of homeschooling. It would be in the development of my children, their whole being and nothing more. Character building emphasizes this. I wholeheartedly agree that this should be a fundamental purpose of education, for children who learn to thrive in every sense of the word, ultimately develop moral virtues worth emulating.