The only thing that interferes with my learning is my educationMark Twain once famously said. We send our children to school to get an education and we call this process learning, but there’s a subtle difference between these two terms. A difference many fail to see.

The education one acquires in school is a passive process – children being given information they are expected to commit to memory at least until they get a grade for their memorization skills. After that, they are free to forget that knowledge.

Pushing our children to focus on grades and achievements is a sure way to fail them. They will get the education the school provides, but they will never acquire a passion for learning. A good teacher and a good parent should focus on stimulating a child’s desire to learn new things, on their own, for their personal pleasure, not for rewards and useless trophies.

Formal education ends at some point, but learning is a lifelong mission and this is what we should encourage in our children.

Children are born with the desire to learn – they learn to walk on their own, they study us and learn to talk. The thirst for knowledge is in our genes and has nothing to do with formal education. On the contrary, forcing children to commit to memory useless information we end up crushing their natural curiosity.

Education is restricted to the school environment, but learning is everywhere. We live and learn, literally, and it is a parent’s duty to foster a child’s desire to discover the world. Education is tailored to impart a certain amount of knowledge to all children, forgetting they are all individuals. Every child is unique and it is a parent’s job to understand what drives a kid and encourage him to pursue those interests.

A child who is free to follow his passion will develop a lifelong passion for learning, a passion that will motivate him to further his self-education long after formal education ends.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.W.B. Yeats

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