Why Do We Learn?

By Mursal Shirzad. Mursal lives in Toronto, Canada. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

I believe that if students know why they are learning something, it would serve both purposes; broadening their mind and preparing them for working life.

We cannot choose one and leave the other because first, these two are not opposed to each other but rather are correlative and second, if we separate them, the demand of today’s society would make the role of education solely to prepare students for working life; that is, to know as much as is necessary to have a good income.

And if we let the role of education to be preparing students for working life, then we have missed the purpose of education. The purpose of education is to broaden students’ mind: not only to teach them acceptance and cooperation in a world full of differences but also to make them think beyond the boundaries because it is the constructive thinking that would lead to inventions and innovations. And for education to serve both roles, it is essential for students to know “why” they are learning or doing something; be it a subject in school or pursuing a field.

To begin with, I think the Secondary and High school are the very important pillars of education. Those are the first effective steps that connect students to the world and prepare them to take part in development of their societies. Therefore, they should know the reason for why they are learning a particular subject; whether it is by student’s choice or mandatory part of the curriculum.

Out of many subjects, I am going to give example of two subjects that are being taught in a very ineffective way and many might relate to these examples.

Back at school, we had no idea why History should be part our school’s curriculum. And it was a pain to read about the birth or death date of a king, how he came to power or how his kingdom was overthrown, especially in exams.

The same was with Geography; we did not know why we should learn about the width and length of Atlantic Ocean or the climate of any country.

Today, I go back and reread the history because now I know there are many lessons that we can learn from history and that “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” History provides constructive lessons, especially for those who have an interest in leadership. And this was something no one told us back at school so we had to study History as an obligatory boring novel.

Geography is the subject that should open students’ eyes to wonders of the world; a subject that would teach students the country that they are living is not the planet earth, there are many different countries in this planet and many different and nice people are living in those countries.

Acceptance and cooperation for the betterhood of the world starts from here and this understanding would not only broaden the students mind but will also be beneficial in students’ working life. Today, in our diverse world, we see that having such characteristics have become one of the most valued requirements for employers.
To know why we are learning a subject would fulfil both purposes, it will broaden students’ mind and the good lessons that they can take from it would help them in their working life.

At this stage, students will also learn about their interests and what field they should pursue.

Today, many people go to colleges and universities to ensure having a good job in future because their mindset is being set like that in schools. For example, very few people might go to law school because they want to fight for justice; many go to law school because apparently it ensures a good income in future. It is actually not a bad thing, however, in the long run, it will diminish the purpose for which the law school was founded. The same is with other fields, whether it is engineering, science or any other field. It is about having a good career in future rather than inventing new ways for enhancing humans’ life.

To survive in this competitive world, it is important to prepare students for working life. However, we should also not miss out the purpose of education and it is always better to show them the pathway to success rather than survival. And the pathway to success is when we know why we are learning something because that “why” would instill a passion inside us that would lead to thinking and searching for more and along the way students will also learn about the tactics to success in working life.

In other words, broadening students mind is the bigger picture of education and preparing them for working life is the small picture and these two cannot be in opposition to each other but rather must be correlative. The point is that if we follow the small picture then we might miss the bigger one; the education system can hold both roles if it encompasses the right method.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *