Best Tools

You’ll need your scriptures, something to write with and something to write on. -Glenn J. Kimber

In order to raise up the next generation to be self-governing, purpose driven, faithful leaders, one must start with a clear intention or purpose for the educational tools you choose. This is like having a target. What are your chances of hitting a bull’s-eye without a target?

Zero! And once you have a target in place, how much practice does it take before you can hit a perfect bull’s-eye? A lot! Hitting a bull’s-eye requires a constant cycle of the plan, do, check, and adjust process (PDCA). The PDCA process is a simple framework for getting one from point A to point B. In short, you set a course with a plan, make an attempt to do set the plan, observe your results through a check against your plan, and adjust your actions to keep you on course. This process is impossible without a clear target or endpoint. Purpose driven education teaches the student to aim for a target. Not just any target, but the target that was designed by the Creator for that specific individual. Purpose does not mean achieving a certain grade, passing a test, or even graduating (typical targets presented in the modern educational system). Purpose means understanding the “WHY” behind a student’s life. What societal issues will they solve throughout their life? What will they invent? What will they discover? Who will they serve? Couple this with an exploration of the student’s personal talents and passions which become the  “HOW” of their life mission.

Education is an important part of God’s plan for his children. This process of developing knowledge and wisdom helps children become more like Him. Each of you has a unique and important purpose to fulfill while here on Earth, so it is important to gain all the good experiences, knowledge, and wisdom that you can. Education is an investment that brings great rewards and will open the doors of opportunity that may otherwise be closed. When a student’s education is driven by purpose, tools are leveraged (like training, practice, and mentorship) to guide the student through the PDCA process. Students have the opportunity to become true marksmen, zeroed in on their unique and important mission.

The immense variety and quantity of tools available can potentially become a huge distraction from educational goals.  Having a solid foundation in the principles of a purpose driven education and a community of self-directed learners is a huge advantage to separate bad from good, and better from best. Tools are to support education. Families should never be hostage to their tools. Instead of relying on complex protocols, workbooks, and systems, keep the following basic tools whenever possible:

Work or service – This is the ideal way to practice skills learned, bond with family and friends, learn a broader view of one’s self in the world, and start to make a positive impact.

Other students – There’s something magical about gathering students at similar levels together who are in pursuit of common goals.

Other mentors or coaches – Parents, teachers, leaders, guest speakers, individuals who are examples of living their purpose and who are willing to serve the students by sharing their talents.

Hands-on experiments/activities – As an individual or as a group, great curriculums often include opportunities to experiment or play along the course of study. Teachers often use experiments to inspire creativity and a love of learning.

Projects – More in depth activities, often included in great curricula, provide an opportunity for the student to create evidence or explore what they have learned.

Things you listen to – Audios of books, lectures and seminars on topics of interest are some of the most effective methods of learning. In the course of a busy life, listening is the most convenient way to learn from the experience of others. An audio can be played while accomplishing other tasks maximizing the time each day when learning can occur. NET, No Extra Time, learning is a powerful tool to train your thoughts towards positive and productive focus. This works when the material is applicable and engaging for the hearer, even if the audience are not specifically auditory learners.

Things you watch – Instructional videos, documentaries and presentations can be extremely clear forms of communication where graphs, charts, photographs, and other forms of graphics can be used and the nonverbal part of communication can be explored.

Things you read – Inspiring and instructional literature, including historical documents, represent the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the ages. The written word preserves some of the greatest thoughts and ideas of human experience.

Things you see – It can be extremely powerful to go and see the things you are learning about, or where events in history happened.

Games or challenges – Having students  create a game or challenge can be a powerful learning opportunity to take action with knowledge. Having students lead an activity to practice skills will increase comprehension and retention.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing your tools for education is that there are always multiple ways to accomplish the same goal. What works for one student might not be best for another. Learning can be more enjoyable by using multiple avenues to practice and explore.

Facilitating the availability of elective programs  provides a wide array of tools for students. Electives feature talented individuals that offer to teach and inspire the students in your local community. The topics of these classes vary greatly. Each elective should offer intrinsic value beyond the skills being taught or practiced.

When deciding on the tools, stay focused on the purpose or intrinsic value being learned to support the development of that student’s individual purpose and goals. For example, a family might choose to put a child in Kung Fu, not for the actual skill, but for the respect and control that the student will gain from participating. The real value of education is the character developed through the process.

The idea is NOT to find the preferred tool and tailor the educational experiences to that specific method! Rather the idea is to continually stretch and grow by using a variety of tools to provide a medley of positive experiences that point to a purposeful goal.

An available tool is anything that teaches, anything that expands thinking, anything that helps encourage growth towards living with purpose. Remember, you don’t need to learn everything. As adults what do you do when you don’t know something? You can ask an expert in that field. You can research it in a book. You can watch a video online. You “Google” it. And yes, sometimes you just wing-it, hoping for more of a Wright Brother’s outcome versus an Icarus outcome.

Also remember, education is not just about getting really good at using tools!  It is about learning to become who you are meant to be. It is important to learn how to use the right tool, and learn how to fully access the good use of a tool.

Allan Packer shared this story: As a young 12-year-old Scout, he received a gift of a much-desired addition to his Scouting equipment. It was a hatchet with a leather cover! On the next overnight hike, his troop arrived in camp after dark, wet and cold from the heavy snow on the trail. All he could think about was building a big roaring fire. He immediately went to work chopping a fallen tree with his new hatchet. As he chopped, he was frustrated because it didn’t seem to be cutting very well. In his frustration, he worked harder. Disappointed, he returned to camp with only a few pieces of wood. By the light of someone else’s fire, he discovered the problem. He hadn’t taken the cover off the hatchet. He could report, however, the cover was chopped to shreds.

Academics are often the correct tools, but they are almost never the ultimate goal. Like the story, Allan’s real goal was to chop wood, not to just use the hatchet. The real goal is for these students to live purposeful and therefore joyful lives. The end goal of fulfilling purpose is almost never finalized with the earning of a diploma or receiving credentials. Success is marked by actio and benefits to the individual and their community.

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