The Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These historic words inspired an American dream that persists hundreds of years later – that every citizen should have equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through taking initiative, working hard, and being determined.

The reality today is that not every citizen is born into equal circumstances. Different obstacles and advantages exist for every person in this world, and they are not distributed equally. But there is another key to the American dream; that education is the great equalizer. The promise of education is that any person may improve their place in life through acquiring knowledge and skills.

The acquisition of knowledge and skills is the core of an education, and this takes place formally, through a school system, and informally through independent study or practice. Both formal and informal education are important ways to gain knowledge and skills, and this is what opens the door for opportunity today. Education for the sake of personal advancement makes for more successful, happy people. In careers, a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce can generate abundance and prosperity for an entire community. In family life, having knowledge and skills to share with children positions them for success in life.

Informal learning starts in the home, and parents who wish to set their children up for success in formal education or real life need not wait to inspire an appreciation for education in their home.

As Socrates said, “education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Parents can instill a love of learning, a desire for knowledge, a keen sense of curiosity, and an appreciation for education in their children from a young age. Share wisdom with them. Provide opportunities to learn and practice new skills. Talk with them. Encourage their curiosity about the world. Kindle the flame at a young age, and watch it grow.

An individual’s path may lead them down a variety of education options – but the spirit that seeks education, and seeks to gain knowledge and skills will be placing themselves on the road to many opportunities. This is how the American dream becomes a reality.