The Value of a Good Education
These days, more than ever, people seem convinced that education is the key to the promised land. Or at least it’s a vital part of leading a productive and satisfying life.
Not so fast. A variety of studies have suggested that the most blissfully unaware among us are often the happiest as well. In fact, the studies tell us that tribesmen in the Brazilian rain forest may not know the difference between a square root and a root beer, but they are happy to have uncluttered minds. Score one for a practical education.
Still, in the modern world, it is tough to put too much value on a quality education. The real question today is how will that education serve you in the real world?
With record unemployment holding steady, it is imperative to have an education that is practical and will serve you in your professional life. Does the world really need one more art history major working as a telemarketer (if his job hasn’t already been outsourced). It could be argued that the art history major might have really interesting opinions on the art hanging in the local museum, but his burgeoning telemarketing career might have been better served by going directly into that field right after high school.
The gap is closing, but those with a college degree still earn more money than those without one. When you factor in school loans and years out of the workforce, the gap is negligible.
The case for education becomes even harder to argue when, on the heels of the Brazilian tribesman debate, you add the Bill Gates story. Didn’t he drop out of college to build his company and eventually become one of the richest men in the world?
Bill Gates, of course, is the exception. And if we’re being honest, Gates is a bit more educated than our happy Brazilian tribesman. That tribesman is happy because he uses every bit of education he has ever received. In his world you literally use it or lose it.
What it really comes down to is education being a business. Everything has become a business—pro sports, dating, child care—so why not education?
The truth is we owe everything to education. Does that Brazilian tribesman know the thrill of holding four simultaneous texting conversations on his cell phone? Probably not. And that wonderful technology wouldn’t be possible without generation upon generation of technology education to build on.
And while we’re on the subject, has any Brazilian tribesman ever sent one of their own to the moon? He can have his simple life. We call that a vacation.
Education opens up a world of possibilities. And just when that art history major thought telemarketing was his life, a world full of educated souls creates a brand new job that—bang!–needs an art history major.
So you can see that education is the key to all that is good and right in the world. Maybe that’s an overstatement. But not by much.
Now we know that as we age our brain ages, and even in this arena, education is helpful. The more we challenge our brain, the younger it stays, and we still get the wisdom that comes with age. Go figure. It really is the best of both worlds.
And what of our Brazilian friend? If ignorance is bliss he’ll stay happy. But he’ll never know what he might have been with an education.
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