In today's culture of productivity and measured worth it can be difficult to grasp hold of the idea of education for its own sake. Amazingly this shift in values is a recent development! As recently as 1967, 86% of college freshmen said that "developing a meaningful philosophy of life" was an "essential or very important objective" of their college education. Only 40% said that "being very well off financially" was an essential goal. Today those numbers have flipped with 82% stating financial reasons are essential and only 45% citing more philosophical motivations. These numbers come from the American Freshman Survey which has been given to thousands of college freshmen for the past 50 years. Such a striking change in values is truly symptomatic of a broader cultural shift. The monetizing of value has reduced the benefit of seeking a good simply for its own sake. Stand this in contrast to the great thinkers of the past who saw worth in things that had little monetary value. Charlotte Mason stated “The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
Educating children to be engaged in the great world we inhabit requires a focus on more than simply marketable competences, it requires the cultivation of character, imagination, empathy, and kindness. Yes, we want our children to have skills that will allow them to earn a wage, but education is so much more than that! This summer try to focus on cultivating their hearts - volunteer, take nature walks, draw, play, enjoy quiet afternoons of reading, plan playdates with friends, soak up time with loved ones; build up those skills that will open the world beyond the marketplace to the things and experiences that will give life true meaning.
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