One of the intrinsic characteristics of being human is being able to make conscious decisions; therefore, education is supposed to edify us and provide us with the necessary background in making such choices.
The wonderful thing about people is, while there are certainly many predictabilities, someone is always capable of surprising you. That’s because even if we all receive the same stimuli - if we all read the same book or eat the same food - we’ll still reach differing conclusions.
Education should not be telling us what to think, but rather should be providing the necessary tools for us to make our own informed decisions. This is why literacy, numeracy, and morality are so important. Kids always complain, “Why do I have to read a book written hundreds of years ago? When will I ever use trigonometric functions? I already know that bullying is wrong. Who cares about Alexander the Great? What’s the point of this?” Because all this learning is actually good for you and it’s about shaping you to become a functional member of society.
It’s not about how Hester Prynne slept with her priest or how Holden is depressed - it’s about developing an understanding for the internal conflicts within one’s self. As we read, we understand more about life and love and people and how it all works, we gain that knowledge and empathy and we understand ourselves better for it. More than that, it enables us to express and articulate what once seemed inexplicable. Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be illiterate? Literacy expands our ability to grasp complex ideas - it’s not possible to communicate above a primitive level without some form of language.
It’s not about finding the instantaneous rate of change on a given graph or being able to do long division. It’s about enabling us to reason in a logical and rational way. It’s about being able to conceptualize and manipulate something intangible.
It’s not just about knowing what the right thing to do is - although that’s often difficult enough - it’s also about actually being able to do it. Schools hammer in the lesson “no bullies” over and over and over again; yet, it’s still an issue. We’re all still terrible people - the jackasses don’t just die when you graduate, instead they become your coworkers and bosses.
Education is a constant necessity. Your parents force you to go to school when you’re little, you can drop out of high school if you really want to, post-secondary education is entirely optional - but it’s more than just about formal education. It’s about educating yourself. It’s about developing a desire to educate yourself. It’s not just about wanting to learn chemistry or theology - it’s about wanting to know more than you do - about anything at all. It’s about asking why and how and eventually arriving at answers that you deem to be satisfactory.
We’re all just trying to make it through life and we all have different intellectual goals - that’s why education isn’t really about the knowledge - it’s about what you do with it. You can go to phys. ed class and learn about the food groups, you can go to shop class and learn how to build a birdhouse, you can go to music class and learn to play an instrument. Then what? Then it’s about applying the things you’ve learned and finding a way to make it beneficial to you. Even if you can’t seem to see why it was necessary to learn algebra, your cognitive functionality is better because of it.
Education doesn’t just take place in a classroom with a teacher. Learning happens everywhere and from everyone - the best learning is sometimes found in unexpected situations. The wise always find a way to learn from the foolish & teachers always learn from their students.
Whenever an autocracy wants to control its population - its most effective strategy is through the biased education of its children. If you’ve been taught to believe something your entire life - even if it’s a lie - it’s incredibly difficult to see past that. What we are taught ultimately shapes the people we are and become.
That all being said, obviously there are flaws in formal education and curriculum - every kid could probably point out a handful - but that doesn’t at all change the impact and importance of it. So kids, go to school, pay attention, learn something - anything at all. Just please, come out of it having been bettered as a person who can contribute positively to society.
…There’s a huge hole in everything I just wrote, but let’s not even get into the contradiction between education and societal conformism.