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The place where education begins

Who are the most important people in obtaining a first class education? TIME magazine, September 20, 2010, carried this thought provoking front cover headline, “What Makes a School Great”; not a question, but the suggestion we will receive additional information.

The first story in this 16-page report on education was well written by Amanda Ripley with the cover statement suggesting, “It all starts with the teachers . . .”

I suggest that education starts at home. If education in our public schools is to improve, it will be determined in large measure by parents and guardians in the home where the student lives each day.

My parents, as were many of my generation, were eighth grade graduates. It was not possible for them to attend any longer. They lived 21 miles from the nearest high school and there were no school buses

After completing my college years, I traveled throughout the nation and was often speaking in schools from elementary through college in an attempt to encourage students to learn as much as they could and to use their education to help make life better for others.

I have become acquainted with students and teachers in public schools, faith-based schools, home schools, military schools, specialty schools and colleges of all kinds. In our area, we have many new and totally remodeled schools. They seem to have every modern necessity.

I still hear teachers and college professors complaining about the deterioration of the learning process. They complain most about students having no apparent desire to learn and believing they will not be flunked.

Teachers hear from students what their parents are saying about schools, homework, fellow students and teachers. Some teachers will tell you it is very discouraging.

In recent weeks, I have talked specifically with three teachers about the quality of students they are teaching this year.

A state university professor of more than 40 years indicated that students do not have the same passion for learning as students of 25 years ago.

A college teacher and many of his colleagues are very discouraged with the quality of work students are doing. They will tell you that they are teaching college students who are not capable of doing middle school work.

An elementary teacher, when I asked about students, said, “The quality of students I get is on the decline. I am shocked with what the students tell me about what their parents seem to think of school.” The teacher added, “And we have no control over the students. Our hands are tied.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., had it right when he said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensely and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Kitty and I had a dear friend, Dr. D. Elton Trueblood, a distinguished professor of philosophy and the author of numerous books who served at both Harvard and Stanford. He once wrote, “In many countries today . . . the notion that the Christian faith can have or ought to have any reasonable part in general education . . . is looked upon as ridiculous.” Also in the United States.

King Solomon, considered to be one of the wisest men ever, wrote 31 chapters in his magnificent book on education which every student and teacher would do well to read and master. His first chapter starts: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; . . .” (Proverbs 1:7-8).

Is any department of education anywhere as wise as Solomon’s book on education? Parents are the most important people in a child’s education.


Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

For information on becoming a subscriber to the Ellis Column for your newspaper or magazine, you may contact him at: BILL ELLIS, P.O.Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560 or by calling: 304-757-6089.

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