The Truly Important Lessons To Be Learned By Our Children Will Last A Lifetime

By Robert Kirwan

This is the time of year when students, teachers and parents take a deep breath and look forward to the Christmas holidays as a well-deserved break from the day-to-day challenges of the classroom. For those students who have found success so far this year, it is a happy occasion. For others who may be struggling it is simply a chance to escape from their problems for a few weeks.


It is my experience that all students, from Junior Kindergarten to Post-Secondary, have one thing in common. They all want to learn. They all want to make sense out of the world around them. And they are all reaching out to the key adults in their life – parents, teachers and grandparents – to help them understanding their world and make wise decisions about their future.
In fact, all students I have met find themselves in a similar predicament to the man in the story below, who was forced to ask strangers for help feeding his family. Read the story and see which of the two fishermen the man met gave him the help he truly needed.
One day a fisherman was on his way home when he came upon a man sitting by the side of the road with his family. The man explained that he had no money to buy food and that his family was hungry. He asked the fisherman if he had any fish to give him so that he could feed his family.
The fisherman reached into his sack and gave the man a few of the fish that he had caught that afternoon. The man was grateful for the food. He then lit a fire and fed his family a meal of freshly caught fish.
The next afternoon a different fisherman was on his way home when he came upon the same family sitting by the side of the road. The man once again explained that he had no money to buy food and that his family was hungry. He then asked the second fisherman if he had any fish to give him so that he could feed his family.
The second fisherman reached into his sack and gave the man a few of the fish he had caught that afternoon. Instead of leaving, however, while the man’s wife was preparing and cooking the fish for dinner, the second fisherman took the man to the nearby stream that was running by the side of the road. The second fisherman then showed the man how to break off a branch to turn it into a fishing pole. The fisherman then gave the man a piece of fishing line and a hook. He showed the man how to attach a berry to the hook and then showed the man how to hold the fishing pole in the water with the hook and berry floating on the surface. The second fisherman stayed with the man until they caught a few fish from the stream. Once the second fisherman was satisfied that the man was able to catch fish on his own, the second fisherman continued on his way down the road, satisfied that the man and his family would never again be hungry.
It is our job as teachers, parents and grandparents, to provide our children with skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their life to ‘unlock’ the wonders of the world. We must not just give our children all of the answers and make life easy for them. We must help them how to use their strengths and teach them how to “feed themselves” so that they can develop their natural skills and talents. This is the true purpose of education, and of life itself.
Our children are always asking us for help. They hunger for the “food of knowledge”. They want to discover their talents and passions. It is up to all of us to show them how to discover these talents and passions and it is up to all of us to encourage them to explore and live life to the fullest.
Have a good week!