chapter  1
9 Pages

Studying benefits

ByTom Schuller

This book is about how learning makes a difference to people’s lives, as individuals and as members of their community. It is more than likely that anyone picking up the book – you, the reader – will be broadly predisposed to believe that learning does indeed bring benefits; we do not on the whole devote time to reading about things in which we have no belief. Whether as students (and former students), teachers or some other form of educational professional, or simply as members of a society where learning is increasingly emphasised as the sine qua non of personal or collective achievement, most people have a strong sense that without education their world would be a poorer place, economically but also intellectually, culturally, socially and even morally. Moreover, this perception derives not from abstract knowledge or political rhetoric but for the most part from direct experience. Most of us consciously owe our social and occupational position to some degree of educational achievement; we translate that knowledge into concern for the success of family and friends, and of the wider society; and we see the sad effects on others of educational failure. Stock learning-lauding phrases abound, from Aristotle (‘Public education is needed in all areas of public interest’, Politics, Book 8) to the current Prime Minister (‘Education is the best economic policy we have’).