“I stand and work in the world as one who aims at making humankind less shallow and morally better by making them think.” ~Albert Schwietzer
Although I was incredibly grateful that Blaine and I were able to have children of our own (there was a time when we weren’t sure we could), after three babies in quick succession I was feeling pretty brain-dead. I knew I didn’t want to train for a job or go to work, but I really I wanted to know things – to understand history and government and economics and literature and science and so much more. Even though I’d spent 3 years at an upscale private university studying Art History and I had lived in Europe for a year before I married, I felt pretty ignorant in many ways. For months I explored my options until one day I was introduced to traditional liberal arts education. I was immediately hooked! I couldn’t believe how awesome it sounded to read the greats (many of whom I’d never heard of!) like Plato and Nicomachus and Shakespeare, discuss their writings and then write about what I’d learned.
I dove in! I studied hard. Eventually I was given the opportunity to instruct other students, to lead Socratic discussions, to administer simulations and oral exams, to write curricula, to teach seminars and to speak at rallies, conventions and retreats around the country. It’s been a crazy, fun ride and I’ve learned a few super important things along the way:
- Traditional liberal arts education – the kind of education the American Founding generation received – is by far the best, simplest and cheapest form of education to administer and the best possible preparation for lifelong learning.
- True education doesn’t kill faith, it nourishes it. Even when students today focus on the liberal arts, it’s almost always approached from an atheistic worldview. It doesn’t have to be this way. When individuals and families know the right things to learn in the right way, they are elevated and inspired spiritually as well as intellectually.
- Principles rule. Everyone says it – virtually all the great thinkers and leaders I’ve studied over the years have echoed this eternal truth – that human life is governed by principles and that our job is to get busy discovering and living them. Self-education is the first and most important way that we can begin to search out and understand true principles.
- Education shouldn’t stop after college. Self-education or lifelong learning is one of the most under-utilized tools for improving character, building faith, experiencing personal fulfillment and developing the whole person. And it’s just a ton of fun too! Adults are missing out on some of the best experiences in life when they don’t take time to engage in principle-centered lifelong learning.
- We can all gain the tools for transformational self-education! By simply taking the time to master a few simple skills, anyone can experience the thrill of changing their lives by changing the way they think!
Of course this journey has changed me immeasurably! I think differently, see the world differently and live differently than I did 20 years ago. And of course, I wanted to give all of this to my family. So, over the years, through a combination of homeschool, private schools, co-op’s, charter schools, online classes, college courses and even a semester in public school every now and again, I’ve attempted to pass on to my children a passion for learning. I’m proud to say that they do value learning and self-improvement, that they are pursuing their personal life missions in their own way and that they consistently strive to live principle-centered lives!
Aristotle said, “Happiness is more often found with those who are most highly cultivated in their mind and in their character.”
Pursuit of true principles through lifelong learning therefore becomes the path to happiness. So, if you wish to be happier, I invite you to begin learning right now.