Why is Education Important?
Even while we take it as a given that we want an education for ourselves and for our families, it sometimes becomes lost in the fog of unknowing why education is so important.
Why is this important? Why do we need to know why we want to educate ourselves and our kids and those around us?
It is because answering this question may radically alter how and what we would do to educate.
So, ask yourselves, why – as parents, as children, as grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. — would we want anyone to have an education?
The first temptation might be to answer simply: so we can have a job/work. Yet, statistics show that now not only jobs but careers themselves might change over 5 to 7 times throughout one’s lifetime. But clearly as the economy changes, this is also set to change. A recent interview with a LinkedIn executive commented that individuals may change his or her job over 15 times in a lifetime.
So what kind of education would need for ourselves and our families if we focused on training them in skill sets and knowledge for a job that would, most probably, change multiple times in a lifetime?
Moreover, as economies have begun to move towards automation, technology and communications develop at a mind-numbingly rapid pace, will we even be able to anticipate the skills that would be needed for the jobs of the future? Certainly, twenty years ago, almost nobody would have seen the need to train students how to write code or to even imagine a world where one could make money on video “unboxing” the latest consumer products. But one thing is clear: tomorrow’s needs will not be today’s and educating people with today’s skills will not be enough to prepare us for tomorrow.
In fact, with the rise of the Internet and communication technologies, knowledge is no longer hard to obtain. It is literally at our fingertips and so the ways and importance of rote memorization and may have their place, but it becomes more important to know what to emphasize and to teach how to think rather than to memorize facts and figures. Put another way, we need to acquire the critical thinking skills that allow us to digest and interpret information rather than to spout information.
Yet, the lesson here is less about what kind of education we need to get work in the future but more meaningfully, what is the purpose of education itself?
Education for Life
We would propose that education for jobs and even for what we might term a “career” misses the real point of education. This is because human education should be education for life and not a vocational or intellectual pursuit.
In this case, how much of what we teach now – in our homes, our schools, faith and local communities and society-at-large – align with what we think would fit into this framework of an education for life?
Thinkers such as Joseph Chilton Pearce and educators such as Maria Montessori and the Waldorf School and others have proponents of this view for a long time and have developed school curriculums to nurture the whole person. Yet, in terms of education at the level of a family, how are we educating ourselves and each other?
We have framed this educational series “Education Starts at Home” as a way to explore different questions related to “education for life” beyond a cognition-based education and perhaps towards an “education of the whole self” through an “education for the whole family.” That is, we wish to explore what it means to educate ourselves and our families to be more than workers but to be ethical, engaged and productive members of our families, communities and societies in ways that go way beyond the confined and confining limits of educating for jobs.
A Life-Long Pursuit
It is along this line of thought where we also introduce the concept for education as not only for the young but perhaps that while the young may have the most to learn, adults probably have the most to gain in realizing that education is a lifelong pursuit, done best perhaps alongside our families. To point, even while morals and life lessons are built into many of the best-loved and oldest children’s tales, it is most likely that the parents that retell or read these stories to their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. are the ones who most fully understand the secret treasures buried inside them.
It is also instructive to know that most people, facing the end of their lives lamented most about what we could interpret to mean 1) not fulfilling their potential or dreams and 2) not having the kinds of families or relationships that they wished to have. We take from these bitter realizations the lesson and the hope to find ways to help families avoid these end-of-life regrets by helping build strong, healthy families that help each family member to fulfill their highest potential.
While there will inevitably be challenges and obstacles in this kind of endeavor along the way, we find it most satisfying to think that, as the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, noted “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way is the way.” [emphasis added]