Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Education: The Path to Success?

Is education the path to success? Ever since I’ve known, my parents have emphasized school over anything else (a social life, relationships, extracurricular activities like sports, etc.) because they believe it is, but how is education defined? Is education synonymous to school or does schooling lead us to consider a lifelong of education and knowledge? Should I ask if schooling is the path to success instead? Furthermore, what is success even defined as?

The divide between students whose main focus is doing well in school and students who don’t care about school can be first seen in late elementary and middle school. Why the divide? I believe it has to do with goals. Students who care about school do so because they want to go to college in order to reach their career goals. The other students don’t see a future in higher education and are thus more focused on other things such as boys and girls because their future occupation as a mother or father is more likely than that of other occupations. This would explain teen pregnancy.

A lot of these students are also the more popular students in late middle and high school. They “peak” during grade school, whereas the students who are more focused on school are less popular and can be referred to as “nerds.” While being unpopular may be detrimental to a teenager’s self-esteem in the moment, in the long-term, these “nerds” win out if we’re defining success in terms of upward mobility and income. Studies have shown a positive correlation between higher levels of education and higher salaries.

However, there are exceptions. For example, both Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are college dropouts. As a result, we can argue that higher education in the institutional sense isn’t necessary for success. It was rather Zuckerberg’s and Job’s drive that led them to find Facebook and Apple respectively, but where did they obtain this drive? Was it from compulsory education? Could they have been successful on their own? Or did they listen to their parents who stressed that education was the key to success? More than likely, it was a combination of factors that led them to their successes: there is no magic bullet, but these are the questions I hope to discover answers to as a teacher.