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Education of Youth

Updated on May 12, 2008

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.


I really love the above quote by Aristotle because I believe it contains so much truth. And because it was written over 2,300 years ago, you would think we would have come to truly understand and abide by the wisdom.

Your first reaction might be that the general population is far better educated today than at any time in history. But I would ask that you consider what the term "education of youth" means. Are we educating our youth or simply filling them with information? Has our education system become an information system?

How would you measure a good or adequate education?

All you need to do is look at our societal problems to understand that we are doing a rather poor job of educating our youth. In America, the divorce rate is now about 50% for first marriages, for second and third marriages the rate is even higher. We have the highest per capita incarceration rate of any country in the world.

Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More Than IQ, pointed out that IQ only accounts for 20% of a person's success in life. Social intelligence and emotional intelligence are the major determinants of the level of success we achieve in life. Yet as a society we seem to do a very poor job of providing the youth the emotional and social education they need.

It is not the sole responsibility of our education system to educate our youth. The parents and caregivers of the children have a duty to properly educate our youth. They can and should be good role models for the children under their care. But if they are not properly educated, how can they educate their children?

Which brings me to my point, what is the single most important lesson you can teach our youth? It is simply this. For every action you take or fail to take, there is a consequence. Many actions have delayed consequences. The further and better you can look down the road and understand the consequences, the better choices you will be able to make. And the choices we make determine the quality of our lives.

We often look at the immediate benefit and fail to look at the delayed consequences of our actions. It is easy to see the instant gratification from taking certain actions. We often fail to even consider the possible downside of our actions. We think we are immune to the universal law of cause and effect.

If we could get our youth to understand the high cost of enjoying instant gratification and not being concerned about the delayed consequences, we would be well on our way to educating our youth and thereby strengthening our future.

If we don't, our society will continue building up a huge social debt. We are seeing the cost of this debt every day. If we don't correct the problem, the deficit will only grow and will eventually bankrupt society.

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Galatians 6:7


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  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee

    I totally agree. We must change our instant gratification culture or else we will exhaust all our natural resources on consumer products that attempt to satisfy our wants but exceed our needs and we will bankrupt our cultural values (if we have not already done so.)

  • sixtyorso profile image

    Clive Fagan 

    10 years ago from South Africa

    John Unfortunately some of the instruction manuals out there, Dr Spock for example, have given rise to a generation of spoilt, me, me people who are after instant gratification and have no mores or morals particularly visible in the business arena and even when one looks at Bill Clinton or any of the current pop culture icons this is visible and what example are they to their children in turn?

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee


    Your two cents worth was worth a lot more than two cents. You have added avaluable insight - really hitting the nail on the head.

    We know how to correct the problem, getting parents to re-take responsibility. Will that happen? If it doesn't, them I am not sure the fate of our empire looks that promising.

  • Sally's Trove profile image


    10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    Parents used to be engaged in their children's life education. That's what parental responsibility was all about.

    There was a time not so long ago when there were no junior football leagues, no pee-wee soccer enterprises, and no baby-in-the-womb, pre-education via directionally microphoned DVD players.

    There was a time when our children were not viewed as markets for the sale of uniforms, music delivered through high-tech gadgets, and of course, 5-fav family cell phone plans. (Our children used to be the targeted markets for sugared cereal.)

    Parents let this happen. They gave up their responsibility for their children's education in the pursuit of, what? The McManse in the suburbs? The Hummer? Peer pressure?

    While parents were setting their goals on the immediate gratification of what dollars can buy, they farmed out their kids' education to others. Why not? That's what dollars are for, after all. Whether it be paying those dollars to public or private schools, the thought that money pays for everything removed parents from the responsibility of being the educators of their children---*I'm paying for it, let them do it.* Like a contract.

    As always, John, an excellent hub generating excellent comments. And I just put my 2 cents in.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee

    Desert ... I love your statement and more importantly the message. I know the world would be much better off if all parents understood their job the way you did.

    Thanks for adding to the value by sharing your experience.

  • desert blondie profile image

    desert blondie 

    10 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

    Great, motivating hub...I always told my daughters that no matter how much they tried to contemplate the consequences of their actions...there would always be consequence they couldn't foresee. And that their actions would always require them to attend to the unforeseen consequences. I got really blank stares until they were in their teens! Now in their 20s, they're really starting to fully 'get it." My 'ad nauseum' statement to my daughters, they both had it memorized by age 7 was "my job is not to indulge your childhood, my job is to form good grownups." They had it memorized...but only lately have they truly understood my commitment to their adult lives, not their all-so-brief childhoods. Although, we did have lovely times during their childhoods that i'll always treasure.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee


    Thanks for you valuable comments and insights. I do believe that unless we start doing a better job of raising our children we will continue to see social problems grow,

    And you are right about Marisue. There is going to be a line for her book(s).

  • amy jane profile image

    amy jane 

    10 years ago from Connecticut

    John, excellent hub! I agree completely. Raising children in this society is a daily challenge, and I don't think that the public school system works. Or helps. Or makes it easier in any way. Parents really do need to develop or maintain a strong relationship with their children and guide them through the early years. Just talking and sharing what you know, what you have learned from life will help them understand the difference between real life and media shows them. They can not assume that they will learn what they need to know at school.

    Thank you for this thought provoking hub - looking forward to more. :)

    And, if Marisue stops in again, best of luck with the book! I would get in line for it. :)

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee

    Angela ... I just finished writing an essay on the lay away plan ... remember those ... where you put an item on lay away, paid for it and then took it home. Now it is swipe the credit card, take the item and pay later. I think there is a parallel in the way we think in other areas of our lives. Enjoy now, pay later. And the "social, emotional and real debt" is mounting. I suspect that we are going to bankrupt society with the buy now, pay later plans.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee

    Eileen - I sure worry about the direction society is heading. I agree about respect for authority .. we seem to have lost it, not just for the police, but also the teachers and so many others.

    Thanks for adding your valuable comments.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee

    My Advice, I am sorry that you left your teaching position. I sense that we need more dedicated and insightful teachers like you. But I do understand that so many things are stacked against teaching. I was listening to a comment a couple of years ago and the question was: "Who determines the school agenda?" Not the School Board, not the teachers ... the vocal parents and their advocates. And the most vocal ones generally have their own agenda - and educating the students is not at the core of the agenda.

  • Angela Harris profile image

    Angela Harris 

    10 years ago from Around the USA

    You're correct. Instant gratification is what it's all about now, and it has ruined many lives, not to mention the US economy. And the moral education lies square on the shoulders of the parents- the school system has enough problems to solve.

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 

    10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    Great informative hub. It needs saying thats for sure. But I blame our learned government and the so goody people and their lawyers for taking the control away from the parents.

    You cannot control a kid, or earn the childs respect if you cannot have the control. I remember when police had respect. Now there is no respect for anyone. So how can we teach our children when the governing powers cannot get things right either.

    I am very lucky I have two grandchildren that do as told. Occasionally the boy rebels but they were brought up to know right from wrong. And if we do not instil this into our kids. Then our feel sorry for our grandkids children. It will be mayhem. Thanks for a very good hub John

  • MyAdvice1008 profile image


    10 years ago from Syracuse, New York

    I think our biggest obstacle in dealing with this problem is the fact that so many of the areas that would definitely benefit from education look unfavorably on it, yet the majority of the caregivers in that same area place the blame solely on educators. It becomes nearly impossible for teachers to give the students information AND try to educate them entirely on their own. That doesn't mean that they don't try, but when there is no reinforcement at home or even in other classes (or in earlier grades), it becomes near impossible to try to educate students in the 37 or so minutes a day that you are in contact with them. I speak from personal experience as I just left my job as a teacher after 2 1/2 years.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee

    Wedding consultant. Thanks for you comments.

    I believe it is the parent's job to teach their children the core values in life. Unfortunately, if the parents do not have it all together, then it is impossible for them to pass it on to their children. I think somehow we must make a real effort to either get the parents to do their job or someone must do it for them. We cannot continue on the current path.

    Marisue, why not consider an interactive teaching process. I find too many people are too lazy to read. They would prefer someone talk to them. You might consider tele-classes and/or CDs. It might also be easier on you. After all, writing can be extremely time consuming. Talkinig about what you already know might take less time and benefit more people.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    10 years ago from Tennessee


    I guess some parents get caught up in the chaos of life and don't take the time to realize the importance of teaching/nurturing their children. The core beliefs need to be instilled in the formative years. But it is too easy to think the children are getting that education from school/church or some other organization.

    There is a direct connection between the social and emotional skills learned at an early age and the ultimate success - success being defined as making a positive contribution to society.

    Obviously the world need more parents and teachers like you.

  • marisuewrites profile image


    10 years ago from USA

    John, I am working on some teaching talking points for an ebook as I thought that might be a quicker pulication.  I have a source that will blast it out for me into cyber space...and I will offer it at my website and here.  Thanks for your confidence!

    I would occasionally run into the parent who would think disciplining issues were "my problem "  and "my job" to handle and teach in the classroom.  Sure, a classroom of 25 children is not the place to teach the quantity of discipline some of the kids needed.  I could help, but not do it all.  Parents -- some -- just turn the kids out to pasture at the school and hope they "graze" on good grass. 

    too much left to chance...Schools are having to take over parenting.  in locus parentis takes on new meaning...

    But, if the family won't the schools are going to have to make up the difference and add socialization at a higher level to their curriculum --  =)

  • WeddingConsultant profile image


    10 years ago from DC Metro Area

    Yes John, what an insightful hub. I especially liked what you quoted about IQ accounting for only 20% of our success. I would like to think that there's something that parents can and should give to their children that has little to do with IQ. Call it common sense, call it insight, call it intuition, call it whatever, but parents need to do their part to develop their children into active contributers to society. Of course this can be done more sufficiently with a proper education, but simply putting your kid in school and having them work on their intellect isn't enough! The schools can make your kids smart, but it's the job of the parent to make things stick and to give their children something that the school system can't.

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Hicks 

    10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    John, I can't agree more! My children are involved in school, sports, youth groups and scouts. I am happy for the multitude of teachers involved in each of these activities and the unique perspectives they each bring for my kids. But where are the parents? As a scout leader myself, I am amazed at how little some of my 10 year olds know about life in general. Scouting teaches a lot of base values, but not many kids get involved these days (or stay involved). Parents cannot just check out and think that their children will learn everything they need to know outside the home. Talk to your kids about mistakes that you made growing up. Instruct them about important things such as credit cards (you have to pay them off -they have high interest rates - you pay so much more for a purchase, etc) Ah well, I am writing a book here. Great HUB! Steph


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