5 Myths of Education
Myth Five

My Child is Getting a Good Education



If you were to ask the average parent, teacher, or student what they most want their school to provide, in all likelihood, they would say, “a good education.” This answer is just vague and innocuous enough that it seems almost self-evident. Yet for all the lip-service that is paid to the idea, when pressed for a more precise definition of what is meant by a “good education,” most would struggle to articulate what they mean.


The history of the American school system has largely been shaped by debates over conflicting views about what constitutes a good education. Horace Mann, the founder of the 19th century common school movement, linked the notion to students’ moral development. John Dewey, the pragmatic philosopher and education reformer, said it should promote democracy through creation of a critically engaged public. Both of these views rightly acknowledge that “education” is concerned with more than the learning of useful facts and skills – it aims to connect a cohesive body of knowledge to a meaningful narrative by which we can better make sense of our world. In recent years, however, such loftier aims have been replaced by more utilitarian purposes for education. Schools that once constructed curricula with a guiding narrative of moral and civic responsibility now shape classes based on disjointed national standards alone. Likewise, where learning was once viewed as something of intrinsic worth – an opportunity to investigate and appreciate the nuanced tapestry of creation – today’s schools have reduced it to a commodity in service of narrow extrinsic objectives– usually, access to better jobs, prestigious universities, financial security, or a competitive edge in the global economy.


When schools stake their foundation on such limited ends, what they offer is not a true education as much as a fragmented vocational training. Of those schools that remain steadfast in their desire to truly educate students, we must ask what it is that distinguishes an “education” from a “good education.” The roots of this question extend far beyond our American system. Indeed, the relationship between “goodness” and “education” was a topic of conversation between Socrates and Meno nearly 2500 years ago. In their dialogue, the two figures determined that a “good education” is better understood as an “education in goodness;” however, they struggled to reach a consensus on how this can be best achieved, as they could not agree on the definition of “goodness.”


Fortunately for us, 300 years before their discourse, the prophet Micah provided clarity on the term, saying, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord requires of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)


If an education is concerned with connecting a body of understandings to an overarching narrative, or worldview, then, according to Micah, a “good” education is one whose driving narrative is predominantly concerned with justice, mercy, and humble communion with God. Properly understood, this upends the socially constructed idea of what a good education entails.


At a time when most schools have bought into the narrative that the aim of education is a fast-track to college, a job, and financial stability (and perhaps a spouse, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence along the way), an education in goodness recognizes that every one of these steps on the road map to success is meaningless if a student lacks the spiritual maturity to discern sacrifice from drudgery, humble service from childish egoism, conscience from feelings, self-respect from arrogance, and productive collaboration from selfish individualism.


Every school presents its students with a narrative. Some base their narratives in what is good, true, and beautiful; others, unfortunately, emphasize more self-serving ends. Parents, teachers, and students must ask, what is the narrative that guides my school? Is it “good”? Does it lead to a more virtuous life? These are the questions that help us see whether or not a school provides a truly “good education.”


I encourage you to visit Plumstead Christian School. Have a conversation with our Director of Admissions or our faculty and discover what we consider to be a “good education.”



Many of our myths were inspired by and taken in part from Cherokee Christian School’s “10 Most Popular Myths Christian Parents Believe” Used with permission.

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