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.

Little children won yesterday. Regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity, all children won. They won when we elected a President who quoted one of my favorite Catholic hymnals. The idea that God was quoted during a President-elect speech, and how he would raise us all up on eagles wings, won my soul. This truly was the battle of the nation’s soul and good won yesterday triumphantly. Then there was my favorite chapter in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Specifically Ecclesiastes chapter 3 versus 1-8 won yesterday. The very first verse even reminds us of how everything that happens, happens at the time God chooses. This reminder and the idea in verse 3 that the time for healing has arrived, won yesterday. Healing won yesterday.

Representation also won yesterday. All forms of it. From the youngest ever elected senator, now turned oldest ever elected President. Then there was the first Professor as our First Lady. As a fellow Professor with a zeal for nurturing the next generation of learners, educators won last night and I was exhilarated when we got our very own shout out from the President-elect. Then there was the first woman, the first black woman, the first south-Asian woman, the first Jamaican woman, the first child of an immigrant, the first HBCU graduate to become Vice President-elect. To say I am in awe of this audacious moment is an understatement. Diversity truly won yesterday and it was joyous.

The first black female Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

And just when I couldn’t stop feeling emotional, just when I finally told my daughter to become inspired by her leaders, to say her name and know her name, the leader, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris explained once more why ‘We the People’ won yesterday. We won for all our children. We won so that they could do as she suggested: ‘Dream with ambition. Lead with conviction. And see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.” Democracy is joyful, full of hope, and dreams when ‘We the People’ lead with character, empathy, love, and respect for one another. That’s what won yesterday, democracy, character, plus good, healing, representation, diversity. They all won for one thing and one thing only, our children. Keep winning for them. They deserve the very best this thing called life has to offer. They also deserve inspirational leaders like Joe and Kamala who won yesterday.