The best education

Rick Santorum believes that not everyone needs a four year degree.

I agree with him.

Unfortunately, he always goes on to say that the reason not everyone needs a four year degree is that universities are indoctrination centers, robbing children of their good Christian morals, thus ensuring the domination of the godless liberal left.

Or something like that.

Most of the education rhetoric spewed by Mr. Santorum has nothing to do with education and everything to do with his own religious beliefs.

I don’t really care about anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs when it comes to education.  It’s a free country.  Worship however you want.

Do not, however, confuse worship with education.   This is where Santorum and I part ways, and why I fervently wish he would stop talking about education and homeschooling.  He is perpetrating every stereotype that many of us work hard to dispel.   And since he’s doing it on a national stage, people listen to him.  Even if they think he’s full of it, they take what he says about “homeschooling” his kids and lump all homeschoolers into that category.   They may not believe anything else that comes out of his mouth, but they do – for some unknown reason – believe that.

The best education has nothing to do with religion.  I cannot say it enough.   The most religious people are not necessarily the most educated, and the most educated people are not necessarily religious.

So what is the best education?  Is it years of schooling with a rigorous curricula,  followed by a minimum of four years in college (preferably an elite college)?   That’s what most people think it is.   They define “education” in terms of schooling.  They use the two terms interchangeably.

I don’t.  (As you might guess.)

Rick Santorum and his ilk define education as…..well…..hmmm.

As far as I can make out, he believes that you are educated if you do your schoolwork from home (which is different than being homeschooled) and are a good Christian who does not allow themselves to be indoctrinated by liberal universities.

I don’t agree with that either.  (No surprise there, I’m sure.)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the best education is one that is largely self-directed.   An educated person is curious about the world – including cultures and beliefs different from their own – and passionate about their interests; from domino mazes to martial arts to marine biology.    Some educated people will attend classes and go to college.   They may be doctors or accountants or engineers.   I want my doctor to be passionate about healing, my accountant to love numbers, and engineers who love  their work to be behind every building I live in or bridge I cross.    I don’t want a doctor who got a medical degree because someone told him he should, or because he wants the status or the paycheck.

Other very educated people will never set foot in a college, or even a high school.   They might be passionate about art or writing or building cars from scrap or agriculture or sales or creating internet businesses.   The possibilities are literally endless.

We do ourselves and our kids a disservice to define education in only one narrow way.   We do a great disservice to our country to believe that everyone must receive the same schooling, or any schooling, in order to be educated.   We hold ourselves back when we dismiss anyone who does not follow exactly the same path we have chosen.

The best education requires only an open mind and the freedom to use it.

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