As someone who has spent over half of her life as a student, I can vouch for the importance of school. While new school years are often met with groans and complaints, it is our civic duty as parents and human beings, to educate our children, not to mention ourselves. School serves a number of purposes from building confidence to teaching children the importance of teamwork and working with others. School helps guide youngsters though the establishment of a daily routine, which is of utmost importance as we direct them toward the workplace, and as they become productive members of society. Students are provided with access to new ideas, including science and language, and are given the opportunity to learn more about world cultures, geography, and personal history.
There are many types of schools available, ranging from private to public to homeschooling. Online academies and a number of public and private school programs offer Internet-based learning too. Whatever the choice, a person’s schooling is always more effective with positive reinforcement from parents or guardians. The Home-School Connection, a course by Steve Reifman, offers excellent advice and instruction to help parents and guardians work with together with teachers to guide students through many successful years of education.
Let’s take a look at why school is so important to children of all ages (and adults too!):
Learning about new subjects and becoming proficient in a skill can help a child (or an adult) grow exponentially. I grew up in a city where the arts program had been completely deleted from the public school I attended. We moved when I was 15 to the suburbs of Houston, Texas, to a school that not only supported a fine arts curriculum, but also had the second most successful arts program in the state (quantified by the number of students who had graduated from high ranking university and private college-level art programs). I thrived at this school and my confidence increased tenfold because I had access to classes, teachers, and administrators that supported my love of the arts, and gave me a community of fellow artists to have as a support system. This small community gave me a sense of belonging and a safe place to experiment and grow my skills as a visual artist, which in turn provided me with the confidence I needed to apply and eventually attend art school.
Humans are social animals and we need people around us to survive. School, yes even online school, can be an excellent way to build a network of friends and a like-minded community. I recently took an online course with an artist whose work I admire. Almost instantly, I was provided with an extensive online network of the instructor’s former students, who were available to offer advice and support regarding assignments and projects. Now, even months after taking the course, I’ve managed to maintain a connection with my instructor as well as a number of my fellow students. My graduate school experience also provided me with a number of friends that I currently work with and utilize when I’m putting together a new project. These connections and relationships can offer you guidance through the career landscape and offer help when you need a recommendation or job position or a shoulder to lean on. I’ve found that many of my friends from this period in my life have experienced similar struggles and successes, and their presence in my life has often helped me during difficult times in my career.
Friendships aren’t the only important relationships that can be built through school. A school environment offers students the opportunity to learn to work with others, which is a very important “real world” skill. Through games and projects, and even participation in after-school sports, children can learn the importance of forging relationships with each other. These activities can also help us learn to manage difficult personalities, find our way as leaders, and better understand the way we work as individuals. These lessons provide us with valuable experiences that as adults, we use everyday. Working with others is all about managing different personalities and finding ways to make your workday run more smoothly. For more information about team building and creating a stellar team, try Traininaday Training’s Team Building: How to Build High-Performing Teams in 1 Day.
Even if you graduate with what seems like a useless degree in today’s economy (yes, I have a degree in drawing and yes, I have another degree in weaving) all forms of education can lead us toward a fulfilling life. As my 96-year-old grandfather says, “there is a job for everyone,” which I have found, despite my cynicism, to be true. School doesn’t merely teach facts and figures and numbers and letters. School is crucial in preparing children to become their future selves. As someone who has worked a number of jobs and has been in school for most of her life, I’ve found that each person I’ve encountered, each class I’ve taken, and each job I’ve worked has taught me something about myself and has pointed me toward my specific career direction. Without that freshman level art history course, I never would have been able to teach the same subject five years later, and without those multiple English classes, I wouldn’t be sitting here now typing this blog post. If you think you may have a skill or the knowledge about a specific subject that you’d like to pass on to others, consider exploring Brian Robison’s Getting Started Teaching Online.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to attend school is the wealth of knowledge and information provided within the school setting. School provides a safe haven for the spread of ideas, and often gives us access to subjects and ideas that we wouldn’t regularly find in our homes or with our friends. Learning a new language, for example, is often best done within the confines of the language’s native country. Most people do not have the means to spend the many years it would take living in a foreign country to learn another language. School can often offer access to those who have had the opportunity to really study a second or third language, and those educators can give a first hand advice on pronunciation, culture, sentence structure. I recently took a beginning Japanese course at my local community college with a woman who had grown up in Japan. I learned at least as much in that class as I did in a single year of work for a Japanese company, and I had a blast learning, not only from my teacher, but from my fellow students as well. A teacher like Nicholas Kemp, who lived in Japan for ten years and established his own language school also has an abundance of knowledge, which he shares in his course Speak Japanese Fluently- Master Conversational Japanese.
I’ve found, as a writer and artist, that school has not only helped me develop lifelong friendships, work strategies, and career goals, but has also functioned as one of my primary means of inspiration. If I hit a patch of writer’s block, or artist’s block, I’ve found that taking a course can often reignite my passion for my craft. A year ago, I was completely lost in terms of my studio practice as an artist. I wasn’t making any work and I felt like maybe my time in fine arts was over. My husband suggested that I take a workshop that the local art school was offering, and within a month, I was drawing and painting again with the passion that I’d had when I first entered art school nearly 20 years ago. Even as someone who has worked as a professional educator, I never feel as though I know everything simply because I have a college degree. School benefits everyone, and it’s important to remember that everyone can better himself through learning.
A school can function as the center of a person’s community and can act as a meeting place, a place for children to grow, and a second home. Despite my disdain for school as a child, I grew up to appreciate the sense of safety and comfort it gave me, and I consider that so many of the activities that gave me my identity as a youth were cultivated at school. My elementary school, located in the center of my neighborhood, was the home of the park where my sisters and I played, housed the pool we swam in, and held the library where we checked out our first books. The school wasn’t simply a place to sit and learn, and it became a centerpiece of our community where kids attended band practice and chess club, and where parents often sat for hours waiting for their kids to finish their activities. I read somewhere recently that as humans, all we really desire is a sense of community and belonging, and I think a school can provide that for both children and adults. Even online school programs, where the user is alone with his or her computer can empower a student with the help of the community of learners it creates.
School is not only important to us as individuals school helps society progress by educating its members who bring their newly acquired information to the workforce. School boosts confidence and teaches us to establish and maintain friendships, and helps us learn how to work together as a team, which is a primary tenet of any successful society. Without school, knowledge would not spread as quickly, and our access to new ideas and people could easily be cut off. A world without school would create difficulties in language learning, and would stall the dispersion of economic growth, tolerance, and the appreciation of our fellow human beings. For those who are currently enrolled in school, keep up the great work! For adults who are thinking about returning to the classroom, try Jason Teteak’s Adult Education Essential: Build a Learning Environment. Whether you’re a parent seeing your child off to his first day of kindergarten, or you’re a graduate student finishing your thesis, school can bring you knowledge, friendships, and a better understanding of yourself and your place within your culture.