What is the importance of education? | World Teachers Day
There aren’t many things more important or powerful than education. Malcom X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”, and this is a sentiment we share at FutureLearn.
Global access to education is our number one priority, and that’s why we’re celebrating World Teachers Day this year with an exploration of the importance of education. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about World Teachers Day and what it means, before delving into the role of an educator.
Then we’ll explore all of the reasons why education is so important, today and always. We’ll focus on the purpose of education for individuals, before thinking about how education plays a hugely important role in global society on a micro and macro level.
What is World Teachers Day?
World Teachers Day, held on October 5th every year, celebrates teachers all around the world and offers an opportunity to discuss the role of an educator. It’s the perfect occasion to talk about the importance, status and treatment of teachers, attract potential teachers to the role, and consider how teachers are helping us to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education.
The day is held annually to commemorate the anniversary of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which helped society recognise the rights and responsibilities of teachers. It also set standards regarding teacher training, recruitment, and employment.
This year, World Teachers Day will have the theme “Teachers at the heart of education recovery”, and there will be a number of events exploring the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and the teaching role. The theme also pays respect to the determination and hard work that teachers have shown in response to challenges brought by the pandemic.
Why are educators important?
There is no education without educators. If children do not have parents or guardians who can teach them about things like maths, literacy and history, and they don’t go to school, they will not receive an education. As an adult, it may seem easier to learn things without an educator, as we have access to a huge amount of information on the internet.
However, most reliable websites will reference highly educated people or resources built by educators. In addition to this, we are only able to successfully self-teach as adults because educators taught us how to learn effectively and independently when we were children.
It’s also worth noting that not everyone has easy access to the internet, so in-person teachers play an even more crucial role in the education of children living without an internet connection. You can learn more about the power of teachers in our Transforming Education in Challenging Environments course by UCL & The Lebanese American University.
What are the benefits of being a teacher?
There is no single kind of person who can succeed at being a teacher. One of the amazing things about education is that teachers all have different styles, approaches, personalities and backgrounds, and they all have valuable lessons and experiences that they can offer students.
However, there are essential skills that teachers need in order to communicate with their students and connect. We delve into this a bit more in our blog post on the education industry, but it’s important to have strong communication skills, creative problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence and adaptability. Your personal approach and experience is layered on top of these skills.
If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, we have some great resources for you. To learn about the different kinds of teaching roles you can take a look at our What kind of teacher should I be? blog post. If you’re serious about this career choice, our How to Succeed as a Newly Qualified Teacher and Preparing for Teaching courses by Manchester Metropolitan University will help to prepare you for success.
What is the importance of education?
So why exactly is education so important, and what are the reasons we celebrate educators? Theorists who study education are divided on what the purpose of education truly is.
While some believe that education is for intellectual development, others believe that it serves more of a social and moral purpose, to help children understand society. Others view education as simply a part of running the economy, preparing children for future careers.
For teachers, it’s not so black and white. There are hundreds of reasons why education is important and purposeful, so today we’re going to delve into some of the most vital arguments for education.
The importance of education in life
We’ll start off by exploring some of the reasons why education is important for individual lives. This will include the ways that education is good for the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of human individuals.
Creates stability during childhood
Most children get their education from going to school, and school creates a really good routine for them. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that routine is really important for children, giving them a sense of purpose, stability and safety.
Having a routine like going to school also teaches children to get used to schedules, become more independent, and look forward to different parts of their day.
Encourages children’s brain development
Early childhood education is really important for a child’s brain development, and it also helps them to learn vital social and mental skills early on in life. An analysis of the benefits of preschool on children found that 7-8 out of 10 children who went to preschool performed better in intelligence and academic achievement than those who did not.
Another study found that students who were given high quality early education performed better than their control group in many areas, including academic tests, attendance rates, behaviour and emotional maturity.
If you want to encourage brain development in young children in a fun way, to increase their chances of a brighter future, you could try our Learning through Play with LEGO® Braille Bricks course by The Lego Foundation, or our English in Early Childhood: Learning Language Through Play course by the British Council.
Having an education can provide independence in a multitude of ways. First of all, going to school encourages independence as it teaches you to interact with new people, try new things and study by yourself. Furthermore, being educated gives you independence in the future by offering routes to stable careers and finances, independent thinking, and further learning.
Offers job prospects
Of course, education is hugely advantageous to those seeking good job prospects. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a highly academic education – a vocational education where you learn more practical, job-related skills can be just as useful in the search for a job, depending on your interests.
However, if you receive next to no education, your job prospects are significantly decreased, and you’re likely to work in a job that may not be satisfying or well paid. There can always be exceptions to this, but generally, having an education of some kind offers people the freedom to follow their dreams.
For example, some jobs, like being a doctor, lawyer or teacher, require you to be a university graduate. You can find out more about how university offers job opportunities in our course,
Increases likelihood of financial security
This point follows on from the last – if you are educated, you have more opportunities to find a stable, well-paid job. This leads to more financial security.
Research from the Center for Household Financial Stability demonstrates that there’s a correlation between education and wealth, with more education often leading to more money later in life.
However, it’s worth noting that correlation is not the same as causation, and education does not directly cause wealth.
Creates aspirations and goals
The more you learn about the world, including different places, people and cultures, the wider your aspirations become. When you hear about people all over the world achieving their dreams, the sky becomes the limit, and it’s easier to find role models.
Early education can also be very powerful in teaching children that what they do, say and think matters. We discuss this a bit more in our open step, Why do educators think global education is important? by UCL. If children see their ideas being listened to and them having an impact on the wider community, they’re more likely to feel passionate and empowered as adults.
Teaches life skills
We touched on this earlier, but education isn’t just about academic talent. It also teaches us important life skills. We explore this some more in our open step about the evolving role of education by Deakin University.
In the open step, we discuss how this new era has challenged traditional understandings about the role of formal education, and encouraged the learning of more transferable soft skills such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, teamwork and emotional intelligence.
Formal institutes of education and online courses can also be a great way to learn digital skills. This has become exceedingly important as we move through the digital age. You can join our Digital Skills: Digital Skills for Work and Life course by Accenture to get started.
Increases life span
Studies have actually shown that the amount of education that an individual has received is the best predictor of life expectancy. This could be for a number of reasons, including a more educated individual having better decision-making skills, less dangerous jobs, more money to live a healthy lifestyle, and improved mental health.
However, it is worth noting that this increased lifespan could just be a correlation between education and wealth, as it is often those with the most money who can afford the best education. Wealth is also a big predictor of life expectancy.
The importance of education in society
Education is not just a means for personal development. It is also hugely important for global society, and has so many far-reaching benefits. In this section, we’ll discuss these societal benefits in more detail.
Moves us towards equality
The more people around the globe who are educated, the better chance we have at achieving equality. As we’ve discussed, a better education can lead to job security, financial stability, more life skills and an increased life span.
If, then, we can bridge the gap between those who receive an education and those who don’t, we are likely to see society thriving in a number of ways, and more equality across the world.
Ensures the safety of society
Education makes the world safer in so many ways. At school, we learn about how to keep healthy and minimise potential health risks, as well as learning about mental health. Even if some schools don’t have a good mental health program, there are fortunately different mental health educators and online courses that we can access.
In addition, people who are educated are less likely to fall into criminal behaviour. In our Education and Crime open step by Hanyang University, they state that students may become more disciplined, patient, moral, and risk-averse over the years of formal schooling.
Teaches us how to integrate and contribute to society
At schools, we learn how to behave, treat other people, respect our environments and make a positive contribution to society. Of course, some schools are better at this than others, but ultimately, we are more likely to be respectful citizens if we learn about our society’s values.
Also, school prepares students for the world of work, where you often need to be reasonably disciplined, ambitious, organised and respectful. It’s often easier for people to succeed in working environments if they’ve experienced something similar previously.
Prevents history from repeating itself
Without an education, it’s difficult to understand exactly how our actions can affect the wider world. Subjects like geography, citizenship and in particular, history, can be incredibly important in teaching us about important historical events, modern politics and the current state of the world.
Knowing about terrible things from the past offers us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Not only that, but we can examine the underlying causes for past events, study the past more objectively, and understand the why and how of things. This plays a large role in preventing future tragedies.
Improves the economy
The more educated people there are, the higher the economic growth, employment rate and earnings will be in a society. K4D published a report in 2017 called The contribution of education to economic growth, and in this report, they discuss how education increases an individual’s human capital.
Human capital is defined by Oxford Languages as “the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization or country”. Effectively, the more people with high human capital, the more wealthy a country will become.
Encourages scientific, technological and ideological progress
Finally, education is important to society because it encourages progress in all kinds of ways. This includes scientific knowledge and medical breakthroughs, technological inventions including new gadgets and better transport, and more progressive politics.
If you’re interested in helping our world progress, we have several great courses for that, including
How can the future of education continue to change the world?
There’s no doubt that education is incredibly important to society, even as it currently is. However, the realms of possibility are endless in the field of education. Things are changing all the time, whether that’s due to endless technological advances or the world experiencing a pandemic.
That’s why we thought we’d discuss the potential of education in the future. Being such a powerful tool, education could change the world for the better in countless ways, some of which we’ll explain below.
The role of technology in education
Technology is changing the face of education, making it more accessible and interactive than ever. More people can access learning materials than before, lessons are more engaging and exciting, and students are able to more easily collaborate.
Whether we’re thinking about the way blended learning helped universities cope during the pandemic, how virtual reality in education makes learning more immersive than ever before, or the way gamification in education increases motivation, it’s clear that edtech has so much to offer.
We have so many courses that will help you transform your approach to education. If you want to learn how to teach effectively online, our Teaching Young Learners Online course by the British Council will suit you. If you’re a learner, our Blended Learning Essentials ExpertTrack by the University of Leeds and UCL will teach you everything you need to know about blended learning.
Education can create a more inclusive future
Earlier on, we talked about how education can improve equality by giving more people a fair chance at achieving their goals. However, we didn’t really talk about how education can teach us to be more inclusive, and how this also helps us to achieve equality.
Now, more than ever, we are educating each other about our different cultures, races, genders, sexualities, disabilities, and other factors affecting our lived experience. The more that we learn about our differences, and get educated about them, the more empathetic we become. This kind of global education leads to more kindness and understanding and can result in fairer politics and less crime.
The world still has a long way to go, but we can already see the potential. For example, this year, Scotland became the first country in the world to embed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusive education across the curriculum. If other nations follow suit, we could see amazing results.
As you can see, education is completely fundamental in our global society, and there are endless opportunities for it to grow and morph into something even more revolutionary in the next few decades.
This is why it’s important to celebrate teachers and the role they have in society. Teaching can be a difficult job, and most definitely underappreciated at times, but they are essential. Without them, education would just be information, and society would suffer for it.
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