Education was considered as a formal activity for breeding learned people and maintaining communication levels among the educated class. In the 19th century, education has both technical and practical aspects, although the emphasis on practical education is much more prevalent in the revealing recent history of education in the United States. Technological advances have crept in to education at a greater rate than any other time in the history of illustration.

There was a stereotypical image of a young school-going child. He or she was typically inquisitive, a lantern jaw with pencil in hand. This child had a tremendous ability to assimilate sounds and words, but appeared to have no direction. The queries of parents would often be geared to prepare the child for an eventual move to a more conventional setting. This child would be questioned about his thoughts and feelings and would be expected to respond. This type of environment was considered fostering creativity, but creating an inquisitive child may just lead to grasping at straws.

The many personalities of a human being have certainly affected the face of education over the centuries. Perhaps the most famous illustration of this is the notion of a solid education. Educators may have been regarded as providers of knowledge, even as those who provided practical skills. A solid education was assumed to prepare for the pursuit of success in business, a notion that has since been pegged to upper class origins.

This solid education was seen as the bastion for a truly solid future. The assumption is evident that any individual who can navigate the path set out for him or her needs to be equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills for actual success. The problem is that the path is never fixed and the current environment hardly reflects the seeds of the future. On the contrary, many of those who were educated in the late 19th century assume that their education meant they were destined to a life of mediocrity. They have since become the standard against which the rest of society struggles to emplace.

During that time, there was a greauutation in education, with books and training videos becoming household staples for the educated. These tools were mere supplements to the knowledge that the individuals accumulated through their own means and the teachings of others. The notion of a solid education incorporating all forms of information was considered most important, with the expectation being that the educated individual would come to empirically know and understand the world around him or her.

The problem is that we now tend to value formal education for its supposed imparting of skills and knowledge, as opposed to the deeper understanding that should come from immersion in authentic experiences.

So what are we to do?

The answer to this question lies in the hands of individual decision makers. They can, in fact, change – they really can. That’s why a lot of research and advocacy groups have developed over the years, dedicated to the concept of portentuary education.

As a concerned parent, I subscribe to a variety of magazines and websites concerned with education. But I am particularly impressed by a couple of organizations in California (and I’ve seen them on the Internet), whose efforts I support called Education Index and Bay Catherine (www.bacaregiver.org). They have developed web sites that assist parents in making a commitment to education.

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