Why Education is Not the Most Important Thing for Kids


In 1870, only 9,000 people received college degrees in America.
In 1940, an eighth-grade education was the stopping point for over half of America.
In 1990, the number of college graduates grew to 1.5 million.
In 2014, nearly 3.7 million college degrees are expected to be awarded.

Over the last 140 plus years, we can clearly see how the importance of education, and especially higher education, has gained momentum.  Our kids are spending more and more years in school than any previous generation. The message to our children is to get a good education, go to college, and get a well-paying job…then they’ll be deemed successful in our eyes and in the eyes of others. Education as we know it today—head knowledge—is very, very important, but it’s not the most important thing.  

Today when we talk about education, we are usually referring to academic matters only—like science, math, history, reading, writing, and the like. But in the 1700’s,1800’s, and even the early 1900’s, “heart knowledge” was also taught, or at least reinforced, in most of our public schools. By heart knowledge, I mean things like faith, character, and virtues. The New England Primer is a good example and included matters of the heart—Bible passages and lessons on character. It was first published in Boston in 1690 and became the most successful educational textbook and foundation for most schooling during that time.  Head knowledge is important, but heart knowledge is even more important and required to lead a productive, meaningful, and significant life.

These heart issues should first be taught in our homes. But, it would also be beneficial for them to be reinforced in our schools and all areas of life.  What are some of those qualities and virtues that should be woven into our children’s hearts and lives? 

1. Integrity.

C.S. Lewis once said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”  Knowing How to Teach Integrity to Your Kids is a vital part of parenting.  It means building up a child who knows what’s right and then chooses to do the right thing, no matter how hard the circumstances may be. 

2. Honesty.

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. My blog, 5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Be Honest, includes a few ideas to help guide your children as the chapters of their lives unfold. 

3. Humility.

I shared in my All Pro Dad book that, “Many people think that humility has mostly to do with how you think about yourself. It doesn’t. You’re not going to be more humble by focusing on yourself. Humility has more to do with how you think of others. Humility doesn’t mean that we think less of ourselves; it just means that we think about ourselves less and others more. Furthermore, humility doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. It means you know exactly what you have to offer, and no more.” Teach your children humility.

4. Courage.

Tony Dungy knows what courage is all about. He shared with me that “Courage is the ability to do the right thing, all the time, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it might be.” Let’s encourage our children to stand up for what’s right, stand strong when attacked, and stand out in the crowd!

5. Love.

All of the other virtues I’ve mentioned must be clothed with love. In my blogs, 8 Things Every Father Must Teach His Son and 8 Things Every Father Must Teach His Daughter, I shared that we were created to love God and love others. That’s the most important thing we can teach our children.

There are many other virtues that we need to teach our children? Can you share some?


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