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8 Things Your Teacher Won't Tell You About Education

Driven to Learn
Part 1 of 3

Imagine that you’re sitting in algebra class, watching your teacher graph a line on the board. Suddenly, you wonder why you are here. You already know basic math; why in the world should you have to learn the formula for the slope of a line? And what’s the point of English class? You know how to read; why should you be forced to study Shakespeare? You’re able to communicate well enough when you compose an email or a text message, so what difference does it make if you know how to use a semicolon or not—or even if you know what a semicolon is?

Whether you’re an all-A student or just barely passing, at one time or another, you’ve probably encountered a lack of motivation to study. Sometimes, you just need a little pat on the back—a word or two of encouragement, perhaps. But when you start wondering why you’re in school at all, it takes something more like a jump-start to get moving again.

Is your lack of motivation stalling your academic progress? You might be able to get things moving in the right direction if you can answer just one question:

Why is education so important anyway?

Let’s Be Honest…

You might hate school and refuse to be convinced of its advantages. Fine. Let’s begin with the most practical, realistic response: Education is usually necessary to get where you want to go in life. You could drop out of high school and just get whatever low-paying job you can find. But is that all you want out of life? The reality is that most jobs require at least a high school education or equivalent. And if you pursue any kind of specialized training or higher education, you’ll most likely be expected to have a high school diploma.

Teen communication expert, Josh Shipp, explains that the things you have to do in school will allow you to do the things you really want to do later in life.  So, will you really need to remember how to graph the equation of a line or how to identify a prepositional phrase in order to pursue your chosen career? Probably not. But the point is that you probably do have to finish high school. And in order to finish, you have to get a grasp on certain concepts and facts in order to pass your classes and to graduate.

Even if you want to pursue a job that requires no further education, you still need to finish high school. If you drop out, you might be perceived as a quitter. Or, you might not be taken seriously at all.

Sometimes Jason has a hard time focusing on his biology homework. He often finds himself jotting down new song lyrics in the margins of his notebook. His dad stops by his room occasionally to make sure he’s working. When Jason shares his new lyrics instead of reporting on his homework progress, his dad commends him on his creativity. They talk for a few minutes about the music school he wants to attend, “But, first, you have to finish high school,” his dad says, “Which means you’ve got to pass biology.”

So, if for no other reason, you need to complete high school so that you can get where you want to go. But your education can provide much more than a means to an end. Whether you stop with high school or complete multiple graduate degrees, you can continue to reap rewards throughout your life from all of your academic pursuits. Let’s look at a few of the benefits.

1. Skills for the Future

Sometimes it feels like you’re just memorizing facts or working on pointless projects in order to pass a class. But you’re really doing a lot more than that. Through the processes of studying, taking tests, and completing assignments, you’re also gaining important skills for life. 

  • By setting aside time each day to study and do homework, for example, you’re practicing self-discipline, something that will definitely come in handy when you have to complete tasks on the job. 
  • When you work on that important science project, you’re learning how to research a particular topic. Obviously, you’ll need lots of research skills for higher education, but also for life. Someday, you may need to research your child’s illness, a better way to run your business, or the safest place for your family. 
  • As you struggle to solve those algebra equations, you’re learning to solve problems in ways that you may have not considered before. 
  • Learn to embrace your writing assignments. You may not become a professional writer, but many jobs require the ability to communicate effectively through certain types of writing—letters, reports, presentations, or speeches, just to name a few. 

2. Money, the Great Motivator

As a general rule, the more education you earn, the higher pay you will receive. US Department of Labor statistics from 2011 show the median weekly income of a full-time worker with no high school diploma as $451 per week, while that of a full-time worker with a bachelor’s degree was just over $1,000 and a worker with a professional degree earned $1,665.

You can probably point to an exceptional case or two—the financial/business wizard who became a millionaire at 16 or the musical prodigy who got to drop out of high school and travel the country giving concerts. But most of us are a bit more ordinary and so will benefit financially by working hard and completing an education.

3. Longer Life, Better Health

Would you like to improve your chances of living a little longer? Then take steps to further your education. 

According to a 2012 CDC report, life expectancy rises with each level of education. For example, the life expectancy of men with a high school diploma was four years higher than the expectancy of men who had not finished high school. And men with bachelor’s degrees or higher, lived an average of five years longer than those who had only completed high school.

More educated people tend to seek healthier lifestyles and adopt healthier habits. Perhaps because they tend to make more money they simply have more money to spend on healthier food choices, supplements, health-related literature, and a greater variety of healthcare choices.

Obviously, many factors come into play when determining life-long health, and more education is not a guarantee for longer life. But you can’t deny the link between the two.

4. Lifelong Learner

In addition to particular skills, doing your best in school prepares you to be a lifelong student. Education not only enables you to learn, but it also reveals how much more there is to learn. Part of success involves continually expanding your knowledge so that you can improve your personal life and your professional life. If you want to stay healthy, for example, you’ll do well to educate yourself by researching the latest news in the fields of medicine, nutrition, environmental hazards, and other issues. If you become a teacher, you’ll need to stay informed of current educational theories. And if you’re a musician, you’ll certainly continue to practice and to learn new techniques….

A young woman approached the professional organist after church one Sunday, hoping to meet with her to discuss the music for an upcoming wedding. The organist was a long-time professional musician and in great demand all over the state. So the young woman wasn’t surprised when the organist said that she couldn’t meet that afternoon because of an organ lesson, “How many students do you have?” asked the young woman, out of curiosity. “Oh, I’m not teaching a lesson today,” replied the organist, “It’s my lesson. I still take lessons myself, you know.”

It’s difficult to think about the future all of the time, though, isn’t it? What about the present? Why are your studies important for you right now?

5. A Sense of Accomplishment

Your work as a student is probably the most important job you have right now. You don’t get paid for it, but if you work hard and do well, you do receive the reward of satisfaction. Each chapter test completed, each writing assignment finished, each class that you pass, should give you a good feeling that you have finished something successfully. You can feel satisfied with your accomplishments, and with each step, you’re accomplishing a little bit more toward your final goal: graduation.

6. Confidence Booster

Doesn’t it feel great when your teacher returns a paper and you see a big red A written across the top? You’ve proven to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed in class. Each academic accomplishment gives you more confidence for other challenges—even those outside of school. When you’re working hard and succeeding in school, you know you can do the same in other areas too.

7. Knowledge to the Rescue

Have you ever been involved in a discussion or conversation when someone made a statement you didn’t understand? Perhaps your friend compared a recent occurrence to a historical event you didn’t remember studying. Or maybe your boss made a literary reference you only pretended to recognize. Perhaps your older sibling used a foreign phrase and you hated to admit you had no idea what it meant.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting your ignorance of a topic and asking questions about it. That’s one way to learn new things. But when you can converse with many different people about many different topics, it makes you a more interesting person. A proper education enables you to be that type of person. The more you learn, the more you can relate to others. It has nothing to do with being a “nerd” or a know-it-all. It’s all about being a well-rounded individual.

8. Competition Training Ground

Life is full of competition. Who will win the talent contest? Who will achieve victory in the basketball tournament? Which candidate will win the election? 

Your school experience offers opportunities for competition, as well. Who will make the top grades? Who will graduate with honors? Who will win the scholarship? Take advantage of the competition you’ll naturally encounter in the academic setting. You’ll learn how to work hard and win graciously and how to deal with the disappointment of losing. Academic challenges will prepare you for the different types of competition you’ll experience in life. 

You may find that the most important competition is the one you have with yourself. Can you make a better grade than you did on the last test? Can you raise your GPA next semester? Are you determined to catch up with your chemistry homework and pass the class? Work hard.  Challenge yourself.

Your Future Starts Today

You may still find yourself sitting in class, wondering why you need to learn the Pythagorean Theorem, the parts of a flower, or the causes of World War I. But don’t let a lack of motivation keep you from making progress. Remember the importance of your education, and let it motivate you to study the things that are required of you. Be driven to learn!

Need some practical tips for staying motivated in school on a daily basis? Don’t miss part 2 of Driven to Learn.

Written by Beth Prassel-Sieg
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- OTHER PARTS IN THIS SERIES –

Part 2:
7 Tips for Getting Motivated to Learn
Driven to Learn

Part 3:
7 More Tips to Keep You Going in School
Driven to Learn

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Good habits formed at youth make all of the difference in life. Aristotle