Recap: a foundation for life
Education – formal education at least – is concerned with equipping people with tools: skills, knowledge and ideas that will empower them them to live a flourishing life and achieve their purposes in the world.
We’ve talked about the importance of sharing a vision of the flourishing life with our kids – the best that we are able to give – and a definition of success that includes writing their own definition.
We asked “Who are we empowering?” and looked at the importance of being aware that as we share knowledge and technical skills, we’re also shaping the people who will use them. Value-neutral education is impossible and undesirable – our kids need to learn values and ethics, and its far more important that they see these in action than hear them articulated, although both is best.
If we think of skills, knowledge and ideas as tools in a person’s hand, the questions so far are all about who will be wielding these powerful tools, and what we hope they’ll be wielding them for.
There’s a second set of important qualities I’m calling attributes. These are the qualities that determine how effectively a person might be able to use their tools for a given purpose. In ourselves and others, most of them lie within our influence but outside of our control. Here’s a shopping list, with a bit of repetition. The lines are blurry at best – values, attributes, and tools are very intertwingled – but I’m giving it a go.
- A reflex to kindness
- Determination – persistence – grit – and the will to succeed
- A sense of hope
- Mental robustness
- Curiosity and a desire to learn
- Creativity and resourcefulness
- Integrity and ‘right honesty’ (blurring the line back into ethics here)
- A love of fun
- Physical health
- A positive but clear-eyed outlook – hope
- Positive regard and right respect for others
- Empathy and compassion
- An inclination towards teamwork and helping others
- Humility and the ability to receive help
- Tact and social grace – courtesy and politeness
- Self control
- Courage (“the virtue without which none of the other virtues matter”)
- Some balance between caring what others think and really not
- A sense of peace
- A sense of humour
What have I missed?
**edited 05/12/2018 to add ‘a sense of humour’ – thanks to Mas K
I like your list a lot. I like what you say about education based on values. There is no neutral ground although many want to pretend there is one. And to add to the list , maybe humor ? A way to see the positive side of the whole picture by turning things around with creativity ?
Thanks for the encouragement – have added ‘a sense of humour’ and a credit to MasK!