How to Use Parental Mentoring as a Solution for ‘Educational Reform’

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by Rachel Denning

I think there is a general consensus that our systems of education need improvement – whether it’s government, private or home school. There are multiple solutions for reaching this end of ‘educational reformation’, and each begins with more parental involvement.

Although not the answer for every family, leadership education is one solution that can work for those who are able to make the time commitment, personal sacrifice, and push past  obstacles that are inherent in mentoring your own children to becoming their personal best.

What is Parental Mentoring/Leadership Education?

dennings in guatemalaI use the term parental mentoring as opposed to home-schooling, unschooling, world-schooling, or any of the other terms parents use who take their children out of the traditional government or private school systems.

I feel that this term is more effective at portraying what needs to happen in the parent/child relationship for those who choose not to outsource their kids education, and follow the leadership education model.

Rather than taking ‘school’ and bringing it home, or undoing all structure and removing all goals in an effort to renounce anything ‘school’-like, parents can take the role of a mentor and leader, in guiding their children, while leading themselves to a better education.

Parental Mentoring is also referred to as Leadership Education.

Leaders determine destiny. Leaders select the goals of nations, businesses, communities and generations, and which paths to take in pursuit of these goals.

Parents, teachers and educators who choose to become and mentor future leaders will construct the future.

This is much different than a ‘home-school’ program. The goal of mentoring or leadership education is not to find a way to pass facts, data and ‘trivia’ to children ourselves, instead of having the school systems do it.

The goal of leadership education is to discover the method for leading our children to greatness – to become the future leaders who motivate individuals, communities and nations toward a greater good.

Throughout recorded history, there have been three basic traditions of education. Nearly every system of education in history and modern times fits into one of these three models.

the ‘conveyor belt’ educational model teaches the masses basic literacy skills, helping to lift generations from poverty toward better lives and jobs.

Second, is the professional model, which trains ‘experts’ according to certain guidelines and methodologies that society has agreed upon. This way, teachers, doctors and other professionals have a definitive standard by which to be measured and qualified.

Third, is the leadership education model which trains thinkers, artists, inventors, leaders, entrepreneurs and statesmen. It focuses on ‘how to think’ instead of ‘what to think’. This is the way that history’s greats were taught – like Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.

What Does the ‘Leadership Education’ Model Look Like?

A vision of the ‘end’ – the long-term results – is critical if the parent is to proceed with confidence and effectiveness.

If your goal is to make absolutely sure that your child knows trigonometry by age twelve, or that they are reading above their grade level, then a different educational model might work better for you.

But if you’re interested in building a person who understands the nature and responsibilities of freedom, has developed a deep passion for learning, and has learned how to be a scholar instead of a student, then the leadership model is right for you.

Leadership Education is the framework by which people (aka children) are taught to govern themselves and to take personal responsibility for their education, and more importantly, for their life.

It is difficult to ‘teach’ this model, or to communicate it effectively to our children, until we have actually experienced it ourselves. The change, the experience, has to begin with the parent – the mentor.

Like the difference between looking at a map compared to actually being there and experiencing a place for yourself, parents need to ‘walk the path’. The success of this model is entirely dependent on the parents.

Until parents actually gain the education for themselves that they want their children to have, or become the leaders they would like their children to become, they will never be able to mentor their children to become pioneers and trailblazers.

How to ‘Do’ the Leadership Education Model

There are 4 main phases of learning with the leadership education model. They are:

1. Core Phase Birth to ~8yrs

During this phase children are allowed to be children and learn from the method that works best for them in developing imagination and creativity – unstructured play time with ‘raw’ materials (clay, dirt, sticks, etc.)

They are also taught basic life skills and habits – cooking, cleaning, grooming – as well as values, ethics and basic social skills.

2. Love of Learning Phase ~8yrs to ~12yrs

During this stage children will develop an interest in ‘learning’ – picking an interest that they pursue passionately for some time until they drop it. They are encouraged to be curious without the requirements of a deeply intensive study. They are enjoying the journey of learning about a myriad of things, and ‘practicing’ at studying until they are mature enough to ‘dig in’.

3. Scholar Phase ~12yrs to ~16yrs

This is when children/youth really begin the intense study or ‘schooling’ phase. The learner willingly undertakes long periods of intense study time in preparation for their life’s mission. This is the time when they will seek mentors to push them beyond their limits and to their personal best.

4. Depth Phase ~16yrs to ~22yrs

At this stage, the learner goes into professional study as they pursue their ‘life’s mission’ and does all that they can to prepare for fulfilling it.

When studying the great men and women of history, you will see that they follow a model that is very close to this, and are mentored by parents and others who also followed this model.

Besides pursuing the model themselves, parents have three main ‘jobs’ in educating their children with the leadership education model:

1. Develop, Nurture and Heal Family Relationships

The quality of ‘teaching’ in the home will be entirely dependent on the quality of the family relationships.

This is the first duty of any parent who wishes to mentor their children toward greatness – improve and nurture the parent/child relationship.

2. Create an Inspiring Environment

The leadership education model follows the mantra of ‘Inspire not Require.”

This is done by modeling great learning and leadership to your children, as well as by creating an environment that is conducive to a great education.

For many parent mentors, this means eliminating activities such as TV, video games, technological ‘toys’ and other distractions in exchange for music, art, poetry and reading. If given these as options, without the mind-numbing distractions that too many children are allowed to indulge in, they learn to thoroughly enjoy them.

Provide the opportunity to expose your children to a variety of inspirational resources, books, music, art, people and programs.

3. Respond Effectively to Your Children’s Inspiration

When your children express an interest in learning more about something, respond effectively by engaging them in an adventure of discovery.

Remember the adage – Inspire not Require. Your job as a parent is not decide your child’s life mission, nor to insist that they master certain subjects. It is to encourage and support them on their own journey of knowledge.

As a child, Albert Einstein was a very poor student and hated school, particularly literature.

After being kicked out of school for being a poor influence on the other students, he had the freedom to pursue the interests he really enjoyed, which was math and science.

He eventually became a great scientist and has helped to define our current reality about the world.

But what is most interesting is that he had developed an unquenchable thirst for learning, and continued it throughout his life. Every night he went to bed with a book. One of his favorites included Shakespeare.

When allowed to pursue what he was truly passionate about, a ‘love of learning’ was developed, which eventually branched out into an interest in subjects beyond his initial interests.

This model will also work with our children, if we give them the opportunity.

As parents seek to model and mentor in the leadership education model, they’ll begin to see how educational freedom can transform their lives, as well as those of their children, and ignite a fire for learning that will last a lifetime.

To learn more about the leadership education model, including the Phases of Learning, the 7 Keys, the 5 Environments, Custom Made Systems and the Arts of Inspiring and Responding, download this free PDF.

Rachel Denning is currently traveling the Americas in a veggie-powered truck with her husband and five children. She shares her experiences at Discover. Share. Inspire.

This post is one in a series about Redefining Education. The other posts are:

Why the School System isn’t Educating Your Child (And What To Do About It)

4 Steps to Improve Education in the USA

You Can’t Reform an Education System Based on Oppression

Educating Kids Through Teacher/Student Partnerships

Let’s quit arguing about what’s wrong with schools and man-up as parents

Imagine something better than school

Is our education system built on miracle teachers?

How to improve our schools from an unschooler’s perspective

Thinking out loud, outside the box

Learning is the new paradigm of Education

Schools & Jails: What’s the difference?

Education for Today’s Global Economy

Wisdom: Knowledge that has been tempered by experience

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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2 Responses to How to Use Parental Mentoring as a Solution for ‘Educational Reform’

  1. Mary April 17, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    I love that, rather than putting or picking a label like unschooling or homeschooling you just guide. I would say I fall more into that then a radical unschooler. This was very revealing as to what words I should be using to describe my partnership with my children.

    Thank you!

    • Nancy April 17, 2012 at 12:30 am #

      @Mary, I agree. From what I’ve heard from you, I don’t think you “fit” with the radical unschoolers. You’re there with your children, guiding them and helping them learn about the world about them. Dare I say you “teach” your children what’s important to you? ((*gasp* Yes, I did use the word teach)) What I really appreciate about you is that you aren’t afraid to look at other ideas 🙂

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