What is the real value of school?

If you can read this article, you’ve already benefited the value of schooling. Although the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic are not the only value of schools.

As business people look for return on investment, young people could well pause to ask themselves the same question on schooling. There is plenty of research to reassure students that the longer they stay at school and better their qualifications – the greater access they have to employment opportunities and higher incomes. Such benefits lead to a more prosperous, healthy and happy life. The better educated a person becomes the more they can contribute to growing the country’s economy and resource public services like health care.

In addition, the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions confirmed for us the social benefits of school. Being at school is best for young people’s learning, social development, as well as their mental and physical wellbeing. Being part of a diverse school community develops social awareness and appreciation of human difference – making our society a more inclusive and friendlier place. These critically important social skills are part of the “hidden curriculum” schools provide.

When parents choose the best school for their child, research shows that the culture and values of the school are some of the critical key decision factors. This is because parents want to know how their school will shape and influence the character and the person their child will grow up to be. School culture includes not only what happens in the classroom, but the attitudes and behaviours in the playground, sports fields, and social groups. While schools may teach the same curriculum, how they teach and what is the school culture can significantly vary. Parents must align their values and beliefs with the school of their choice.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. said “intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education”.

The long-term value of schooling can be seen in the impact young people go on to have in wider society. Are they equipped to think beyond themselves, and have a sense of service and belonging? Does their school engage in community action projects and service leadership opportunities that allow students to learn to contribute and give to others? It is through living out such social actions of giving and sharing that people develop qualities like gratitude, generosity, and compassion.

So, why do we go to school? The real value is not only to become the best person we can be and to live the best life for oneself, but also, to develop the values and character to help ensure we connect and belong in a community, to ultimately help make a positive difference in our world.