27 May, 2022

Education and our future

When I was asked to write about how education affects our lifestyle my thoughts immediately went to the division between rich and poor that is widening in England and other countries throughout the world.

There is a big difference in lifestyles across any country and a big difference in educational standards that seem to go with it. However whether our education affects our lifestyle or our lifestyle affects our education is still an on going debate. This division was intensified with the covid pandemic with pupils in poorer neighbourhoods suffering during online schooling due to a lack of funds and resources.

In our younger years we develop much of our habits by mimicking the adults around us, and the more we practice these social skills the more they become habits. As we grow those habits become hard to change and eventually we pass them on to our children and the cycle begins again. This means that change for us as individuals and as a society is hard and takes time and effort.

Much of our lifestyle and the opportunities that we can give to our children are based on our income. In the UK for example, the price of houses dictate the areas in which we can live and therefore what state schools we can send our children to. Wealthier neighbourhoods will naturally have a greater resource base to work with than poorer areas. Private schools that not everybody can afford might have similar standard of teaching staff but will be able to offer better facilities and resources which all help to enhance the level of education provided.  Affluent parents expect their children to go to college and afterwards secure a well-paying job and data suggests that college graduates earn more money than non-college graduates. In the past few years however, college loans have escalated and more and more graduates are not finding jobs that earn enough to actually pay back their loans, which is then affecting their lifestyle after they have graduated.

There is another subset of society that cannot imagine how they would ever go to college. In poorer neighbourhoods access to resources is limited and expectations for further education is lower so the percentage of students able to envision such a future is diminished. In other words, wealthier schools instill the habitual perceptions that enable students to access more resources as an adult than poorer schools. If your parents are poor the deck is stacked against you making it harder to be successful in our high resourced based society. 

This is today’s reality but things could and must change. It is our responsibility as educators to work hard to change this, so everybody, regardless of their background and financial status, can access the good quality education children need to succeed in life.

As I finish this piece I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s quote – ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest’.

Mr. A Vinent

Deputy Head of Secondary