what is educationFirst, I'm going to warn you. 

Education is not something we take lightly in our ‘home’. We're passionate about it.

So as I begin a series on education, I just want you to know that it’s going to be bold. I'm going to tell it as we see it.

Does that mean we're absolutely right? Is our point of view the only valid one? No. But since this website is about offering our (or my) point of view on the world, that's what I'm going to do... confidently (and maybe a little feist-ily at times. Just be prepared.)

Now I want to tell you a story.

There was a professional speaker who was asked to address nearly 20,000 students at a well-known university. They paid him well, flew him to the event first-class, and put him up in a five-star hotel.

On the day of the presentation, he walked to the pulpit and asked, “Who in this room believes that they’re going to change the world?”

Six people raised their hands (out of almost 20,000).

“Will you please come up on stage.”

He then preceded to dismiss the administration who were sitting there, and gave their seats to these six students. He sat down next to them and started to talk.

After several minutes, it began to be very loud in the room. The speaker walked up to the pulpit and said, “Excuse me, I’m trying to give a seminar on Becoming the Leaders of the Next Generation. Could you please be quiet?”

This happened once more, and he actually got up and asked everyone else to leave... including the President of the University, who had sidled over, curious to hear what he was saying to these students.

“Excuse me. Did you raise your hand? Then please leave.” he said.

So I want to ask you. Do you believe you can change the world? Do you believe your children can and will change the world?

Please raise your hand.

If you’re hand is still down, then this information is not for you. You may want to leave now.

Defining a GREAT Education

Now that that's out of the way, I'll begin by stating that if you really believe you (and your children) can change the world, then no matter what kind of education you have received, or that your children are currently receiving, chances are it's not good enough to prepare them (or you) to accomplish a world-changing life mission.

Let’s examine this for a minute.

If you really want to change the world, what skills does that require? How about the ability to think and to be a thought leader? Creativity is key, as well as imagination, innovation, vision and passion, determination, stick-to-it-ivness, confidence, courage, maturity and a belief in the power of your dreams -- that they are worthwhile and worth pursuing. It requires the ability to know how to learn, to know how to push yourself, and a burning zeal to acquire whatever knowledge, skill or information necessary to achieving your goals.

With those types of skills, the ability to read and write and do math, a knowledge of history, science and other subjects, while still important, become secondary. In and of themselves, they’re not enough to change the world, but with a love and passion for learning, whatever information you’re lacking can always be acquired. [pullquote style="right" quote="dark"]

Real learning happens when the student wants (insists!) on acquiring a skill in order to accomplish a goal. - Seth Godin


Now let’s look at what most of our educational experiences include. They usually focus on what to think, not how to think; content out of context; and information instead of transformation. The focal point is on grades, good test scores and on getting your diploma so you can be ‘done’ and move on to getting a job (which you, ironically, have not been adequately prepared for.)

The challenge with defining a 'great education' is that you first have to decide and agree what education is for? What are the goals?

In our opinion, education isn’t grades or tests or diplomas. It has nothing to do with any of those things. Education has to do with the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical development of the individual. It’s not something that can be given, like a piece of paper. Education isn’t something that ever stops. You don’t ‘graduate’ and then say you’re done and you ‘got’ your education. There is no graduation from education. (Greg Denning)

Too much of the ‘education’ we did receive was simply an exercise in regurgitation. So we passed the history test. Were we inspired to continue digging into the stories of the past so we could allow them to touch our soul and alter the way we think about the present and the future? Or were we simply glad to ‘be done’ with that class so we could forget everything we learned, except for when the war of 1812 occurred. What year was the Civil War? What is the Magna Carta? What does ‘bread and circuses’ even mean, and where did that phrase originate (and what significance does it have for us today)? Can we remember anything we learned? And more importantly, do we care, or even want to know, or understand why knowing has significance? If not, then our education is not complete.

A great education doesn’t come from a good school, and it definitely doesn’t come from a poor one. It can be inspired by a great teacher or mentor, but it ultimately comes from within. It’s something you develop within yourself, it’s not something that can be given or borrowed. It can be modeled, it can be inspired, it can be encouraged... that’s our job when it comes to educating our children.

History of the Three Types of Education 

Of course, all of the above ranting applies to how we believe a great education is defined.

However, historically, there have been three types of education presented to the rising generations. Each type of education has a specific (and often different) goal. They also have different methods and curriculums and prepare individuals for differing career paths.

Technically, each of these types of education can be great in their own way, and have their own ‘great’ outcomes -- but they would vastly vary from one another.

Knowing what the three types of education are (with their corresponding goals, methods and curriculums) can help you decide if this definition of a ‘great education’ is right for you. If it’s not, great. You can look elsewhere for someone who is offering what you’re after (which might be found in public, private, or home school.)

So what are the three types of education (including our terms of endearment)? They are:

  1. Public/Government (The Cog Factory)
  2. Professional/Apprenticeship (COG-llege)
  3. Leadership/Elite (Theodore Roosevelt Education)

Almost every civilization (especially those with recorded history) had at least two of those types of education -- Professional and Leadership.

A few of those civilizations added the third type - government/public -- Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome (during the Republic), Ancient Israel, 18th Century Germany, and mid way through 19th century we added it in the U.S. Today we find it in almost every nation.

Government/Public Education (The Cog Factory)

Despite what you think I might say, the truth is, adding government/public education to a civilization is actually beneficial. Why is that? Is the goal of government education to control the masses?

While it can become a tool of control, historically government schools have started with a simple goal in mind -- educate the poor and lower classes by teaching them what to think (and how to obediently comply) so that they can be prepared to get a job (aka be a cog.)

What methods and curriculum are used to accomplish these goals? Students are expected to fit into the 'conveyor belt' -- all pupils are expected to comply. They have the same assignments, take the same tests, and are working toward the same goal (graduation) despite personal interests, goals and abilities. Cogs are created which can then be plugged into the factory workforce.

The curriculum used is textbooks (less than 20% - providing content out of context) and socialization (80% or more). Future employees need to know how to relate appropriately with superiors and peers, how to follow schedules and directions. Want to test this? Try taking your child out of school. Will people ask, "What about their academics?" Nope. The question always asked is "What about socialization?" Government school is a tool for teaching future job workers how to work within the system.

Historically, government school has done more good than harm. It has worked by achieving the goals it set out to achieve. Implementing government school helps to increase the overall rate of literacy and provides opportunities for the average citizen that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Adding government education helps a nation to improve their overall level of prosperity and progress. Today's system may need improvement, but we can't expect government schools to create an outcome that it wasn't designed to create. If we're looking for something more than job training as the outcome for education, then we'll have to look elsewhere.

Professional/Apprentice Education (COG-llege)

The purpose of professional education is to train someone to become an expert -- whether mechanic, dentist, teacher, accountant -- by teaching them when to think. The goal is to help an individual take a given problem, client, or case and be able to create a solution. You want your doctor to know how to think within their field.

What method and curriculum is used to achieve these goals? Professional education still follows the 'conveyor belt' model (with good reason), but with a competitive focus. You want your dentist to have taken Drilling 101, then Drilling 102. You want him to have complied with the standardized requirements, and you want him to have been at the top of his class. These are good things. 

Textbooks may be used, but even more, case studies, internships and residencies (hands-on learning) to help a person become an expert. If you're goal for you or your children is to become an expert in any given field, then this is the type of education you should pursue.

Leadership/Elite Education (Theodore Roosevelt Education)

Leadership education has one simple goal which is to train leaders, visionaries, and innovators  by teaching them how to think. This is the educational model that has been delivered to the world's greats -- Alexander, Aristotle, Socrates, Newton, Edison, Washington, Jefferson -- the list goes on and on.

What’s the method and curriculum that's been used for accomplishing this? Mentors and classics.

A mentor is someone who has something to offer, and is 'one chapter ahead'. They work with a student, ask him his dreams, goals, talents, then together they create a program that will help them accomplish those personal goals. There are basics that need to be mastered, but the basics are in alignment with their personal mission.

Then the student will study, read, and devour classics (a work - not necessarily book - that is worth studying over and over again) related to their personal mission (there are classics in every field -- math, history, science, music. There are even surfing classics and mechanic classics and computer classics.) What's classic for one person and their mission might not be for another person.

[pullquote style="right" quote="dark"]No matter what type you choose, "you will spend hours and hours and hours reading stuff in order to get an education. But there is a huge difference in the impact on the mind and the soul if you spend those hours and hours reading classics, or if you spend those hours and hours reading textbooks. You will, at the end of that reading, be a different, if you take those two paths. There's just no way around it." - Oliver DeMille[/pullquote]

Leaders are born by coming face to face with greatness, because greatness rubs off, and greatness can be found in classics.

Do you want to be a leader? Do you want to impact society and change the world? Then spend time with classics and with mentors. If that's not what you want (for you or your children), then choose another path.

Getting a GREAT Education

With a basic understanding of the three types of education, it then becomes easier to decide how to receive (or help your children receive) a great education.

I’m not saying any are bad and we need to get rid of them. They all play an important role and each need to be improved in their own sphere. There needs to be options. We need nations and a world that offer all three types of education. We need employees, professionals and leaders.

What we need to do better is let the rising generation know that they don't have to choose between Professional and Leadership. Earn a Leadership Education, and you'll be better prepared to fulfill any other role you may choose.

This isn't black and white. Of course there is crossover, exceptions and overlap. No one receives just one type of education without the others. We all know the public school teacher who inspired us to be and learn more using the methods of Leadership Education within the government system.

The point is, these systems are real, and they do accomplish the goals for which they were created. If you want to achieve a certain goal, then you need to align yourself with the type of education that will help you accomplish them. The question isn’t which is right and which is wrong. The question is, “What are your personal, long-term goals for you and your family?”

We live in a world that depends on the average person to lead, to innovate, to make changes -- whether social, spiritual, or technological. Steve Jobs, Ghandi or Mother Theresa didn't go to a school to get a degree to do what they did. They were mentored. They studied classics. But when we raise generations that 'don't have a clue' because they were simply trained for a job, then what will the future hold?

We challenge you to obtain a Leadership Education.

[pullquote style="right" quote="dark"]What a tragedy when parents fail their children by not situating family life so they can pursue and education to match their mission." -- Oliver DeMille[/pullquote]

Get off the 'conveyor belt'. You might still utilize government school, public school, college or home school, but you can add the Leadership model methods and curriculum.

Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Start today to be that change. 

You can't change your destination overnight, but you can change direction. Do it now.

How will you do it? Is it entirely up to you? Is there a method to follow, or educational products to use?

We'll be discussing this and other ideas in future posts. Please join the conversation!

[message type="custom" width="100%" start_color="#FFFFFF" end_color="#FBF8FF" border ="non" color=""]We'll be continuing this conversation in depth. Please join the conversation to receive all updates, and a 3-Part video series on education.[/message]



Powered by New Facebook Comments

13 Responses

  1. MichaelWolfe1

    Had I been in that classroom as a student I would not have raised my hand, but I would now. Half a lifetime of learning, of dreaming has made me believe that one person can change the world. If I were to encourage anyone in one area to expand their horizons, it would be to dream more and bigger. Can we actually teach our children to dream big dreams? Or is it only in the genes?

  2. MelanieMurrish

    Love this-you probably know Rachel that we unschool/homeschool and that my confidence isn’t great on what we should be doing! I’m getting better at trusting my instincts but look forward to reading the rest of your posts and getting lots of ideas.x

  3. exmish

    I like a lot of the Thomas Jefferson Education ideas too!  🙂  (Maybe not Theodore Roosevelt’s, though?  *grin*)
    We unschool for exactly those reasons – and while there are times that I panic and think “OMGosh, they’re not LEARNING!”, most of the time if I really pay attention, I can hear them demonstrating knowledge of things (and showing an interest in) things I -never- taught them explicitly.  (“I’m watching this video on JFK because I’m curious” or two of my boys waking me up because they are hotly debating the particulars of black holes 🙂 )

  4. RachelDenning

    exmish We also love TJED stuff… we’ve morphed more toward ‘Theodore Roosevelt Ed’, as we call it, because we incorporate more travel and more of the ‘strenuous life’, as he called it 😉 It’s not an official ‘program’, but it may be some day 🙂

  5. eprimack

    This is interesting and ironic for me.  I was a teacher for students with severe disabilities and I felt it was the only kind of teacher I could be while maintaining my sanity because it allowed me to serve the student’s needs and help them develop their interests unlike general education teachers.  This is because they weren’t bound by a standard curriculum or testing.  However, I actually had a conveyor belt and the activities that I provided for them to pursue were all cog-like.  Oh, well, that’s in the past.

  6. Jenn Q

    Ok, attempt #2! I thought I had posted a question, but now see that it has disappeared. I get so nervous to write in public due to my horrible grammar 🙂 I had a well written post asking about your abilities to maintain your activity in your faith. I wanted to know, how do you go about practicing your faith outside an organized structure? How do you teach, follow and practice your faith without having the “active” member status. Do you take sacrament, pay tithing, and attend Temple? I am a convert to the church, and my husband is from Pakistan. He wants to go home to Pakistan for an indefinite amount of time to live with his family. I am finding it difficult to think of how I will be able to keep active (especially in a Muslim country) without a ward family and the constant support and growth they help provide. How do you do it?
    I admire your family, your zest for life and the new adventures you are experiencing! Thank you for sharing and helping others achieve their dreams as we’ll.
    Also, I loved your post about your delivery, congratulations on your beautiful baby girl (Saige?) or was it Tica 😉 you are AWESOME!
    I look forward to hearing how you and your family grow spiritually!
    Jenn Q

  7. RachelDenning

    Jenn Q  Thanks for your comment. We attend church anywhere we travel, if there is a church nearby. If not, we do ‘home’ church, which has only happened a few times in all our years of travel. When we’re living in a place for awhile then we actually have callings, etc. My husband worked in the temple while we lived in Guatemala. 

    Our belief is that we can do more good and share truth with others by living out in the world, even if that means we’re not ‘normal’ members attending a ‘normal’ ward.  We aim to be a support and inspiration for others, members or not. 

    Thanks for the congrats! Her name is Saige, she’s a ‘tica’ because she was born in Costa Rica 🙂

  8. joelthomas1

    This is beautiful writing Rachel! I absolutely love how you and Greg are leading by example.

    This nugget is great too! “Do you want to be a leader? Do you want to impact society and change the world? Then spend time with classics and with mentors.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.