Now that the construction is finished at our new farm, Jim and I have a lot of our time freed up. We’ve been talking about where to spend some of that time when it comes to Goat Milk Stuff and in what direction we want to take the business. More wholesale? More internet? More agri-tourism?
Since we’re focusing on big picture stuff, I decided to start reading a book that has been sitting on my book shelf for a couple of years. Somebody recommended it once, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it. It’s called The Magic of Thinking Big*, by David J. Schwartz Ph.d.
Once I began reading, I could immediately tell it was an old book, and when I looked at the copyright, it was originally copyrighted in 1959. So it’s a bit dated. I haven’t finished it, but instead of helping me with my business, the book so far has simply validated my philosophy of education.
I’ve mentioned it before, but my main goal as a homeschooling mom is to teach my children to THINK and SOLVE PROBLEMS. I want them to love learning and I want them to know how to learn. I’ve never worried about them memorizing facts. If you can think and solve problems, you can look up any facts you need whenever you need them. I’ve always said that we live in the age of spell check, calculators, and Google. I am fine with my children making use of these tools.
Since I believe that the main goal of our homeschool is teaching the children to think and problem solve, I absolutely loved this section from The Magic of Thinking Big and wanted to share it with you (the bold font emphasis is mine).
We often hear that knowledge is power. But this statement is only a half-truth. Knowledge is only potential power. Knowledge is power only when put to use – and then only when the use made of it is constructive.
The story is told that the great scientist Einstein was once asked how many feet are in a mile. Einstein’s reply was “I don’t know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?”
Einstein taught us a big lesson. He felt it was more important to use your mind to think than to use it as a warehouse for facts.
One time Henry Ford was involved in a libel suit with the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune had called Ford an ignoramus, and Ford said, in effect, “Prove it.”
The Tribune asked him scores of simple questions such as “Who was Benedict Arnold?” “When was the Revolutionary War fought?” and others, most of which Ford, who had little formal education, could not answer.
Finally he became quite exasperated and said, “I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I could find a man in five minutes who does.”
Henry Ford was never interested in miscellaneous information. He knew what every major executive knows: that the ability to know how to get information is more important than using the mind as a garage for facts.
…I spent a very interesting evening with a friend who is the president of a young but rapidly growing manufacturing concern. The TV set happened to be turned to one of the most popular quiz programs. The felllow being quizzed had been on the show for several weeks. He could answer questions on all sorts of subjects, many of which seemed nonsensical.
After the fellow answered a particularly odd question, something about a mountain in Argentina, my host looked at me and said, “How much do you think I’d pay that guy to work for me?”
“How much?” I asked.
“Not a cent over $300 – not per week, not per month, but for life. I’ve sized him up. That ‘expert’ can’t think. He can only memorize. He’s just a human encyclopedia, and I figure for $300 I can buy a pretty good set of encyclopedias. In fact, maybe that’s too much. Ninety percent of what that guy knows I can find in a $2 almanac.
“What I want around me,” he continued, “are people who can solve problems, who can think up ideas. People who can dream and then develop the dream into a practical application; an idea man can make money with me; a fact man can’t.”
I love that Dr. Schwartz wrote that section over 50 years ago and yet it is still true and applicable today.
So while our children do learn facts – after all, they can tell you tons of information about birds, books, songs, goats, Alcatraz, the Pilgrims, mythology (Greek, Roman, and Egyptian), homonyms, adverbs, eighths, negative numbers, and lots of other stuff – it is more important that they can think. And they can solve problems. Because that, as opposed to memorizing facts, is our main goal.
If you are a parent, how are your children doing with their education?. Are they just memorizing facts? Or are they learning to think and problem solve?
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