There is a point in every parent’s journey where you ask yourself, “Why do I send my kids to school?” Over the last 33 years, I’ve worked with many parents. And I can tell you that most of them didn’t have a good answer to this question.
Have you ever reached this point in your parenting?
What was your answer?
As a teacher, a mother and a life coach working with parents, I’ve had to ask myself and my clients this question many times.
When I ask parents, they say things like:
- I can’t teach them myself
- So that I can go to work and earn money
- If I had to teach, I would die…
- So they can learn to read, write and do math
- It’s the law
By asking why, it is much easier to gather what their motivation is. If you go through any personal or professional development, the question “Why?” is especially important.
I ask my clients “Why?” often. Why do they work in their profession (especially if they hate it)? Why are they with their partner (especially if they’re unhappy with them)? Why they’ve come for coaching?
When we know why we do things, it becomes much easier to create a drive and generate internal motivation.
There are many points (too many, in my opinion) where children ask themselves the same question. “Why do I have to get up every morning and go to school?” It’s often difficult for them to find the drive to go school, because when they can’t find the answer themselves.
So they turn to others and hear answers like “Because you have to”. But that’s simply not a good enough answer, and it leaves them frustrated and lacking in motivation.
Do you know what people feel when they do things without a good enough reason? When they are forced to do them?
They feel resentment!
Resentment is a toxic feeling. It can fester in the back of people’s mind and drive them nuts. Resentment poisons their mind and body. It breeds disrespect, anger and hatred among other negative states and depletes the motivation battery.
Many parents complain about their children lacking motivation, but they don’t see that if their kids understood better why they go to school, it would increase their motivation and clear their resentment.
An easy way to think about it is to put yourself in the government’s shoes for a moment. Providing an education system for children for 13 years is expensive. Some countries provide early childhood education for a total of 18 years.
Why would you invest a fortune into each child’s schooling journey? What would you want to achieve for your country?
The answer is: To raise happy, healthy, social, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
Why tax-paying citizens?
Because their tax money keeps the economy functioning. The government is a body we “hire” with our tax money to run the country for us. If we don’t have enough tax-paying citizens, we need to charge more tax, which means everyone needs to work more to support the government.
In other words, tax is collected from the tax-paying citizens and distributed to everyone. Taxpayers’ work contributes to all those who depend on the government. Disabled, unemployed, old people and children are called dependents, because don’t pay tax, but still have needs.
So every country needs as many people who pay tax as possible.
Because we don’t live in a bubble, and throughout life, we need to get along with others. Our social skills are essential for our survival.
We need to learn social skills to get along with our partners, our children, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, bosses, the bus driver, and everyone we encounter in life. We are social creatures learning social skills is part of our development.
The more social we are, the better we get along with others. The less social we are, the more dysfunctional and needy we are.
So every country needs people to be social to function well.
Because when we have set of rules to follow, there are fewer accidents, less crime and fewer conflicts, and people can live with each other in peace. Peace brings prosperity, because the government can invest tax money in development, instead of fixing problems.
All the money we invest in law enforcement and the prison system can be used to build roads and bridges. A law-abiding society is the only way out of chaos.
Do I like all the laws? Probably not. But I understand that they’re there for the benefit of the majority.
So every country needs law-abiding citizens to flourish.
Because healthy people pay more tax than those who have mental or physical problems. Unhealthy people also cost the government money they can never return.
The public health system costs the government a fortune. The funding for it is from taxes. Unhealthy people are a burden on the society, because they do not produce enough income to pay tax.
Take for example, according to The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, “In 2017, the United States spent about $3.5 trillion, or 18 percent of GDP, on health expenditures … $1.5 trillion is directly or indirectly financed by the federal government. In other words, the federal government dedicates resources of nearly 8 percent of the economy toward health care”.
how much money is wasted for sick days in every country and see how much productivity is lowered because of a little bit of sick leave. People who are sick are called dependents!
Think of “healthy” as being physically, emotionally and socially well. When citizens are healthy, socially and in body and mind, they help their country.
Because happy people are healthier, more motivated, more creative and more productive. Happy people get along with themselves and with others better. Happy people cost the government less than miserable, sad, frustrated, pessimistic, angry and aggressive people.
It’s simple to measure. How productive are you when you’re happy? How productive are you when you’re upset?
So why do we send our children to school?
Because we want them to be happy, healthy (physically, emotionally, and socially), law-abiding grownups, who earn a good income and contribute to society. My wish for my children is that they will one day be required to pay 10 million dollars tax every year.
We want the system to prepare them for life. And we want the system to prepare out children to journey through life safely.
Questioning the education system
Now that we know what we should expect from the school system, it’s time to ask ourselves, “Is school actually giving my kids the skills and experiences I want for them? Is the school system doing what it’s supposed to do?”
About 30 years ago, Gal and I considered this. Our daughter Eden, who is now a clinical psychologist, was only 1.5 years old at the time. I was already a teacher and ran an early childhood center. We wanted to understand why we should send our daughter into the school system.
As relatively young adults, we had already experienced the school system and were on the other side of it. We looked at ourselves and asked, “How well did the system prepare us for life?”
30 years ago, while I was studying special education, I did a fascinating course called, “Is there a substitute for school?” It was a mixture of philosophy, theory and practical learning. It specifically discussed the purpose of sending kids to school.
After covering theories for about six months, my final essay concluded that although the school system is far from fulfilling the needs of our society, it’s the best thing we have at the moment. When Gal and I sat down to discuss this for our daughter, we thought it needed some serious changes.
I’m all for acceptance, but accepting a bad thing is bad!
Gal and I spent weeks going over this. At one stage, we put all our thoughts in a letter and sent it to the minister of education. We also sent a copy to the head of the education committee in the parliament.
We didn’t think we would ever get a response, but the process was important for us. Four years later, when Eden had to go to school, we had a clear understanding of what we expected our kids to learn at school. When we realized school cannot give them everything, we focused on giving it to them ourselves. Why?
Because at the end of the day, your kids’ happiness, health, social abilities, and their ability to learn and succeed and be good citizens is your responsibility! Complaining that the “system” that didn’t give them what they needed, won’t help you.
Ask and you shall receive
I think this exercise made it very clear to Gal and me why we should send our kids to school. All our kids went through the school system very successfully. Our two eldest children skipped years and travelled all around the world with us.
When Eden was 15 years old, we told her that if she chose to leave school and do something else, we would support her. She chose to stay in school.
Tsoof only needed an audition to get into music studies. Finishing high school was not a requirement, but he choose to stay in school and complete the exams he knew he may never need.
Why did they do that?
When they didn’t enjoy something at school, they didn’t hate us for it. They talked about it as a problem with the system, and we usually agreed! Because we didn’t send them to school “because we have to” or “because they have to”.
We sent them to school to grow. And growth never happens when you force kids to do things.
As a parent, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Why do I send my kids to school?” And dedicate some time to answering it honestly and with an open mind.
Your kids will thank you for it.