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In our free country, where we pride ourselves on being able to make our own choices, why is it required by law that children attend school between the ages of six and 16?
There are a few arguments out there as to why receiving an education shouldn’t be mandated by law:
Children could simply be taught their family’s trade from a young age and earn a living wage through that knowledge, right? Is education is a form of political control? By having the freedom of speech and thought, children should also have the fundamental right to control what information enters their minds. Schooling is really just a tool for assimilation, so everyone is the same.
We all know that the world is facing challenges unique to our times. The world continues to become increasingly complex, and having an education helps ensure that people understand that they need to maneuver through this complexity using problem-solving and collaboration.
Back in the 1500s, these laws began to be put into place to make sure that everyone could read the Bible, among other religious reasons around the world. In 1852, compulsory education laws began to be enacted in the United States, and they still stand strong today.
Although the reasons for getting an education have evolved, people have always known that education is important. The benefits of education are indisputable, both for each individual student and for our society’s future.
How We Sometimes Undervalue Education
So, why is it that we put this overarching sense of importance on education, but in reality, people truly undervalue it?
One of the main ways that the undervaluing of education can be seen is through teachers’ universally low salaries. The government and the media seem to ignore the hard work and sacrifices teachers make to ensure children are given the best opportunity to succeed.
While some focus on the shorter hours of a school day and the summers off, we forget about the time teachers spend on lesson planning, grading papers, and completing administrative forms. Nor do we recognize the personal money teachers end up spending on educational materials the schools won’t provide.
However, we expect teachers to do the critical task of preparing our youth to take over and manage the world one day. Dedicated and hard-working teachers are undervalued, and the importance of the outcome of their work is often forgotten.
Furthermore, when considering what people will do in other countries to receive an education, it is astounding that our truancy rates are so high. In Tanzania, 8-year-olds walk 90 minutes both to and from school to gain an education, and in Zimbabwe, children are so motivated to learn that some leave their homes at 4:00 am to get to school by 7:00 am.
Students in China see their education as a privilege and respect their responsibility to learn to be successful adults.
This article will look at 11 reasons why education is critical on both a personal level and as a society. Whether that means formal education after high school or committing yourself to being a lifelong learner through self-education, the value of knowledge is immeasurable and, once gained, is something that can never be taken away from you. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why education is so important.
11 Reasons Why Education Is Important
1. Increased Job Opportunities
Yes, this is certainly a factor that perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as those who do not have access to a quality education are much less likely to earn a living wage than those who do. But getting a diploma is indeed a requirement for obtaining certain jobs. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows us that the rate of unemployment drops with each higher rank of education that a person earns. We will cover this in more detail below.
Many jobs require applicants to have a minimum level of education to get an interview. If you already meet the educational requirements, exceeding these by having advanced degrees or certifications in a related subject will boost your likelihood of landing a job.
Once you've been offered a job, you will still benefit from your education. Higher education is often required for promotions, and by continuing your education even once you’re employed, you'll be eligible for those higher-paying job opportunities.
2. Ability to Think Critically
In the past, education focused on the ability to retain and recite information. Problem-solving was limited to math, and science classes were the only place where experiments were performed. Over time, learning progressed toward developing skills to prepare students to navigate the world outside of school.
Your critical thinking skills embody your ability to think for yourself, problem-solve, analyze information, integrate various sources of knowledge, and make decisions. Studies have shown that writing is the most effective way to improve critical thinking skills, and when equipped with these skills, people are better prepared to problem-solve in life and be productive, engaged citizens.
Students today face a steady cascade of information, especially from the internet, friends, and media, making it increasingly evident that they must know how to evaluate what they hear to determine any ideas that are false and look beyond the surface. Through brainstorming and discussions that occur in educational settings, students can enhance their abilities to think critically.
Check out this list of critical thinking questions to help you examine new information.
3. Increases a Passion for Learning
People are born with a passion for learning, as evidenced by babies’ relentless walking attempts and curiosity about everything in their surroundings. Teachers are attempting to keep this motivation alive by teaching using a “passion-based” method while students are still at an age where the information they’re learning is decided for them.
For example, one school in Minnesota taught using passion-based learning for a 10th-grade project. For the year-long project, students were asked to explore their own interests in order to meet the standards of learning. Each student researched and investigated a topic of their choice and wrote a ten-page paper recounting their research. As part of the project, each student identified an issue within their area of interest and took action to try to solve the problem.
One student with a passion for computer science collected enough electronic waste to fill two semi-trucks, reducing the waste that goes to landfills. Another student, who grew up in foster care, advocated for foster families to have access to more resources when opening their home to a child. All of the students used their experiences from their research to help solve community problems through their engagement in service-learning.
While not every student will gain a deep passion for learning while in school, the act of learning is the only thing that can ignite this passion to carry on past infancy and into adulthood.
If you're looking to set goals for the next school year, here are some SMART goals examples for teachers.
4. Economic Growth
There is a lot of emphasis placed on “human capital” in our global economy for economic growth, which refers to the contribution that people can make. Each person's contribution to the economy's growth depends on their unique knowledge, training, skills, and competencies. Because of this, developing people’s skills and knowledge in any given field is a principle strategy for promoting economic growth.
Further, working and trading with other countries requires competition, and economically successful countries typically have some type of competitive advantage over those that aren’t.
A developed country can usually offer expertise in various industries, allowing them to have these competitive advantages in the global marketplace, and a big factor in determining the potential success of a country’s economy is the education and training of their workforce.
5. It Provides a Foundation for Knowledge
Your education lays the foundation for all of the knowledge you gain in life. And it’s important to eradicate the idea that education can only be something formal connected to an institution–classrooms are neither the beginning nor the end of education. Education is any enlightenment to new ideas, theories, or concepts. While this is often acquired in an academic, systematic way, this is not the only way your mind can grow.
Just like we self-educate as babies, when we realize we can lift ourselves and pick up toys, people can continue to educate themselves through resources such as Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera. People also self-educate by watching videos on YouTube, listening to educational podcasts, and reading. People can have the desire to do something new or differently at any point in their lives, and there are certainly resources out there to help meet this need.
It’s natural to want to solve a problem that you see, and while everyone may focus on their own subject or industry and learn in a variety of ways, education is the only means of figuring out how to accomplish new things and improving upon your existing skills. No matter how you gain the knowledge that you seek, it will help build the foundation for further learning.
If we want a world that is both fair and just, where everyone has an opportunity to live a successful life (no matter what that looks like to them), education is a must. When certain world populations are sequestered from receiving an education, the world becomes unjust.
However, when more diverse populations are enrolled in schools, teachers must take the backgrounds and needs of all of the children into consideration when teaching their classes.
Well-designed educational programs recognize the importance of diversity among students and teach in inclusive ways that don’t overlook anyone’s background. When children grow up in such an environment of acceptance, they carry that value with them into adulthood, creating more equality in the world.
As people move on into higher education, they’re often more exposed to people with differing opinions or belief systems, forcing people to further break down the boundaries of their own beliefs. By gaining an awareness of how other people work, lead, and learn, students can become more self-aware of their own methods of doing these things.
7. Helps Build a Social Network
Sharing a common experience is one of the best ways to meet people and build both a personal and professional network. Education lets you gain this experience through interactions with people both in formal and informal learning environments. When you learn alongside others who share your interests, you can create a bond with them that will set the foundation for your social and professional circle.
Networking in this manner will help you cultivate and improve your relevant skills, keep up with the latest trends in your field, stay on top of the job market, meet people who could be mentors, business partners, or clients, and access resources that will help in your career development.
8. Builds Confidence
Being educated can help anyone feel confident in social situations when people have intellectual conversations. Also, when people learn, they gain confidence in trying new things. But beyond that, while education for the elderly is often put on the backburner, it plays an important role in society.
Many seniors lack the confidence to continue their education and learn new things, but those who make an effort to gain new knowledge can often improve their lives and build up their self-esteem.
Learning new things is an important part of keeping the brain active as we age, as the process of learning can keep the mind sharp and improve memory by sustaining brain cells and making sure brain pathways continue to communicate with each other properly.
Studies show that continuing education into the later years of life can help reduce age-related cognitive decline and help seniors improve their self-image and fight symptoms of depression.
9. Encourages Future Generations
Parents who value education and continue learning either in a formal or informal setting after having children demonstrate to their children the importance of lifelong learning. Aside from just telling children about the importance of being in school, these parents demonstrate that by continuing to enhance their knowledge without the requirement to do so.
Further, children of parents who value education tend to stay in school longer, have lower crime rates, and have higher career aspirations than children whose parents are less enthusiastic about learning.
10. Fights Boredom
Boredom can be dangerous for many people, as it has been linked to increased drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, overeating, and other counterproductive coping mechanisms. However, when you challenge yourself to learn new things, you will experience less boredom, and it can prevent you from getting stuck in negative thought patterns and feelings.
Being in environments that don’t provide some kind of challenge doesn’t just leave people bored, but it also leads to feelings of disinterest and reduces the likelihood that you will do anything to change the situation. And more importantly, boredom will never lead to innovation, and it certainly doesn’t help you improve upon your existing strengths.
Continuing your education in any way can fight this by giving you a constant challenge and helping you continuously grow. Chances are that the more you learn, the more you will want to learn.
(If you’re looking for a way to prevent your kids from getting bored, pick an educational app that can engage them in learning. If you're the one getting bored, here are some educational games and apps for adults.)
[Bored? Looking for something to do? Check out this list of 217 fun things to do when bored.]
11. Improves Skills
Getting an education isn't just about receiving a diploma. Your time in high school, college, or graduate school allows you to learn advanced skills for being an independent adult. The longer you spend in school, the more refined your reading, writing, understanding, and communication skills will become. You will also gain computer skills increasingly required in our advanced technological society.
A thorough education subjects people to a communal sense of identity and purpose as we learn how to operate in social and professional situations. Further, education cultivates our emotional intelligence, allowing people to learn to be empathetic to the differences of others and flexible with our perception of the world.
As you get used to interacting with different types of people in any sort of educational setting, the social skills you gain will serve you well in life as you navigate the world.
[Want to learn some new skills? Discover 101 new skill ideas you can start today.]
How to Get Involved in Your Child's Education
The most important figures for your child alongside their teacher is, of course, the parents. As a parent, you can significantly impact the progress your child makes academically. So, always strive to make positive contributions to your child's education by doing the following:
Education in Everyday Activities
Our day-to-day lives are filled with many opportunities to use education in our regular activities. Even using simple math when grocery shopping or learning new words when you go out to eat. All of these are small activities that can make a big impact. It is also a great way to reinforce and refresh what your child learns at school and in their current education system.
Don't let your children struggle to complete their homework on their own. Instead, make it an activity you can do together at home. Doing so offers your child encouragement and shows that you share a love of learning. This positive attitude will rub off on them and follow them through to higher education.
Participate in Extracurriculars
If there is something your child is interested in, then do what you can to encourage their growth in that area. Perhaps there is an after-school club they can join or a local group they can participate in outside of regular school hours.
Reading is a very powerful skill and plays an important role in our lives. Reading for twenty minutes a night with your child can help spur their education, expand their vocabulary, and allows them to express themselves in different and more creative ways.
The Importance of Early Childhood Education
While many tend to focus more on the value and importance of primary school, high school education, and college education, we also have to continue to see the value of early childhood education as well.
It has been found that children who participate in an early childhood education system have improved social skills and do better in school than those who didn't receive this quality education. The early years for a young child are where we lay the groundwork for a successful future.
Early childhood education provides young children a base for quality education, lifelong learning, and life skills. It also teaches cognitive and social development that helps them enter modern society as they get older.
How Does Education Affect Employment and Society?
A higher education level can increase a person's chances of receiving a comparable wage and reduce the time it takes for unemployed people to find new employment. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “earnings increase and unemployment decreases as educational attainment rises.”
A proper education also helps people become better citizens, increases the literacy rate, helps you land a better job that pays more and shows the importance of hard work. Additionally, a quality education helps us grow and develop in our lives, so we can shape the society we want to live in.
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Education
Education is an essential component to ensure future generations can address issues such as widespread disease, global warming, the exponential development of technology, and the need for ethical leadership and the protection of all citizens. Education is also the key to ensuring that in our era of robotics and artificial intelligence, our potential as humans continues to be maximized.
Our future requires more than the required knowledge that people gain before entering their 20s. Education is the only way to build a society that can analyze, interpret, and problem-solve through unpredictable obstacles across all disciplines. The future will continue to demand unprecedented solutions to problems we have never faced as a society as we continue to enter uncharted territories.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.