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Alain de Botton on why “Education is what makes us fully human”

As part of The New Statesman’s series ‘What makes us Human?’, philosopher Alain de Botton has written an article arguing that wisdom as well as skills can, and should, be taught. It is interesting to read Alain’s thoughts on these matters, particularly considering the School of Life that he founded as an alternative to the secular education system.

Taking the UK as his example, Alain notes that “education gets taken seriously in our society.” As a frequently discussed and highly debated topic among politicians and public figures, there is a nationwide drive to improve exam results in order to create better workers who will support the GDP of the country. Whilst this is, according to Alain, “a great ambition”, his belief is that “education should help us with the many ways in which we end up less than we can be.” In the article he lists the areas of emotional health which need to be addressed in schools in order to prepare pupils for the challenges of adult life.

The current problem that Alain notes is that our intellectual world does not allow us to question, let alone answer “the most serious questions of our deeper human nature.” To solve this, he believes that education should be focussed on passing wisdom down the generations. At the moment it is only religion which attempts to teach us the “art of living”, but education needs to follow suit.

Alain dreams of  schools where maths, science and geography are taught alongside subjects such as how to be a good partner and how to stay sane.  These are the areas which, Alain concludes are crucial to ensuring that this country “will be a flourishing and happy place.”

Click here to read the article in full

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