Education allows us to understand the world in which we live, increase mindfulness and empathy toward others, develop critical thinking and discernment, and chase our dreams.
Today, most of us assess the value of university education in economic terms. Like any other investment, we analyze the ROI of a 4-year college degree by comparing total tuition costs with a projection of our future income. Do we even stop think about if education still matters or not? We also tend to choose our major based on earning potential rather than passion and decide to go back to school only when an opportunity for a raise or promotion appears at work.
Education Still Matters
Here’s the reality, education still matter and it’s not just about the money. This isn’t to say that money plays no role in education or that it’s misguided to pursue one field over the other for financial reasons. One of the most compelling arguments for STEAM education is, in fact, earning potential and the quality of life that comes with an elevated income. However, focusing solely on the paycheck ultimately undervalues education and the incredible role it plays in one’s personal development.
Indeed, the earliest arguments for education weren’t just economic—they were much more comprehensive.
“The Greek Life”
In ancient Greece, from which classical education traces its roots, formal education was seen as a necessary requirement for any free citizen. Through the study of grammar, rhetoric, and logic, the free man developed the skills he needed to succeed in all spheres of society, including politics and public debate. This was especially important in a democratic society, where all free citizens could debate societal and political issues in the Agora, a public gathering place.
From the Greek perspective, education served a holistic purpose and rarely had much to do with making money. Indeed, free citizens had the ability to choose a trade and begin an apprenticeship. But, the educational structure we recognize today was primarily focused on raising up well-rounded citizens.
Even if your interests don ‘t include debate in the public square, the number of benefits afforded by a comprehensive education is immense. Therefore, if you’re on the fence about going to college, you might want to consider some of the non-financial benefits it could have. In the following paragraphs, we ‘ll take a look at three compelling reasons why education still matters and why you should view your education as more than a moneymaking tool.
#1: You’ll Understand the World Around You
Right now, mindfulness is a trending word. According to mindful.org, Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we ‘re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what ‘s going on around us.” This concept first began in the field of meditation, but it’s spreading rapidly throughout other areas of our society. Studies show that by being mindful of your environment and savoring the moment, you can greatly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. What does this have to do with education, you may ask?
Mindfulness first starts with awareness and understanding the world around you. Learning more about the universe and its fascinating complexity only helps us appreciate every waking moment a bit more. An experienced field biologist, for example, is able to enjoy a walk in the forest more fully than I ever could. A computer scientist is able to appreciate the genius and mathematical rigor behind new technologies. An artist can also better appreciate the beauty of a sunset or an oil painting at the local art exhibit.
In addition to helping us appreciate life’s beauty, education also helps us understand the issues facing our world and better understand the situation of others. A class in international economics can help us put global poverty into perspective and develop a greater appreciation for what we have. Additionally, a course in anthropology can help us relate better to other people groups and cultures. Empathy ultimately starts with awareness and understanding.
#2: You’ll Develop Critical Thinking Skills
In the Ancient Greek view, the ultimate goal of education was not to memorize facts but instead to learn how to think. Rote memorization will always have a place in learning, but its role will continue to diminish as information becomes increasingly available via the Internet. With search engines like Google and voice assistants, we can now find the answers to our questions in under a millisecond. None of us needs to remember the exact value of Pi or when Christopher Columbus set sail—it’s all just a web search away.
But, we do need to develop critical thinking skills to help us make sense of the information we absorb and determine whether or not it’s true. With the rapid spread of information, we can also find ourselves at risk of being exposed to misinformation and manipulated data. For this reason, we need to develop the ability to think critically and discern between truth and falsehood.
#3: You’ll Equip Yourself to Pursue Your Dreams
It’s not a secret that most of us want to be our own boss. In recent years, many Americans have left their full-time jobs and financial stability in pursuit of the freedom that working for yourself can afford. Studies show that by 2020, an estimated 40% of Americans will work as freelancers, contractors, and temp workers. The dream of starting your own business and working for yourself has only increased in the last decade or so, thanks to the number of self-made millionaires and entrepreneurs flaunting their lifestyle on social media. However, achieving your dreams isn’t as easy as it may seem on the Internet; it requires a lot of hard work, personal development, and education.
The success stories of college dropouts/entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have long contributed to the myth that education isn’t necessary for success. However, studies debunk the myth of the “successful dropout” and show that a college education is strongly correlated with success in your career. In other words, Gates’ and Zuckerberg’s success are exceptions to the rule—they’re not representative of the rule itself.
The education doesn’t stop after graduation. On top of traditional education, success also comes as a result of new experiences and self-driven learning. To illustrate, the majority of corporate CEOs are hungry for knowledge, reading an average of 4 to 5 books per month. This is because they realize that without the proper education, they won ‘t be able to grow as a professional and leader.
Why Does Education Still Matter?
To put a price tag on education is to undervalue it all together. In a democratic society, where we have a say in all areas of civic life, education equips us to be better citizens and live up to our full potential as human beings. It allows us to understand the world in which we live, increase mindfulness and empathy toward others, develop critical thinking and discernment, and chase our dreams. Money is just one of many arguments for pursuing an education.
As John D. Rockefeller once said, “the poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.” Shockingly, these words came from one of the richest men in modern history, which had an estimated net worth of $341 billion upon his death. When we too recognize this truth, our view towards education will begin to change. Rather than seeing education as a mere tool for making money, we ‘ll see it as a means of seeking out what truly impassions us and finding fulfillment in our lives.