When I was a child, nobody could explain to me why I had to go to school. At least they could not explain it so I could understand. “You have to learn,” they said. That meant nothing to me. I could learn by watching TV.
When I got older, some grown-ups would tell me that I needed to learn so I could get a job when I grew up. They also told me that I needed to learn math so I could count my change after I bought something at the store.
I always thought I could learn those things in less than 13 years. Why waste all of that time going from kindergarten through grade 12?
Every year the stories and books got longer, the math got harder, social studies got more boring, and the science lessons were always about air and bugs, not interesting things like space and electricity.
And I didn’t understand why everybody needed to learn all of those things if they weren’t needed for their jobs as grown-ups.
All I wanted to do was watch TV, play video games, and ride my bike with my friends. And if I were a kid today, I would probably want to watch YouTube and play Fortnite, too.
Now that I am grown up, I know why I had to go to school. I know the real reason.
But if I tell you, you have to try your best to understand because the real reason is hard to follow.
Are you ready?
You go to school not only so you can learn to read and write. You go to school because we live in a world with lots of people. The world is confusing, and it has problems.
Today’s grown ups cannot fix the world. They will grow old and die before the work is done. Kids have to grow up and continue the work.
Yes, you understand correctly: you and your classmates will take over the world. And you will fix many of its problems.
If you have ever done a nice thing in school to make someone sad feel better, you are learning to be a good human being.
If you have ever helped someone read a word or solve a math problem, you are learning more than reading or math; you are learning to help others grow.
If you have ever asked a friend not to do something that is wrong, you are learning that you have a superpower for saving people from mistakes.
If you have ever told your teacher about how you enjoy learning in the classroom, you are giving that teacher and your whole class more strength.
If you have ever made your classroom better or the cafeteria cleaner or the hallways safer, you are changing the world.
If you have ever done something wrong in school and then said you were sorry, you showed everyone exactly how we learn from mistakes.
For these reasons, your school is important to you, and you are very important to your school.
One day, you will make the real world better than any video game and better than any movie. You will make it so good that kids won’t want to use their parents’ phones in waiting rooms and at restaurants.
In fact, you have already begun to do this. That is why you go to school.
That is why you are important.