Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

Why Do We Send Our Children to School?

Why Do We Send Our Children to School?

Don’t they have the right to know?


Why do we send our kids to school? Well, we parents all know the truth: as soon as the school bus pulls away, we ditch the business suits for bathing suits and head for the water park, careful to return home in time to change clothes before the kids return.

But why do the kids have go to school? Is it just to memorize facts and figures, in hopes of giving them a chance for success in this dog-eat-dog world?

Kids have a right to know the objective of the hours they spend in school. Sadly, often the message they get is misleading.

You may recognize the scene. A well-meaning pedagogue, complete with elbow-patched tweed jacket (pipes are no longer “politically correct”), ascends the podium and, in his best attempt to be inspirational, encourages the students to dream bigger dreams, reach for the stars, picture where you want to be in ten years from now and then chart the course to arrive there. Exotic travel metaphors and occasional swashbuckler similes are common; dramatic gesturing is optional.

Dutifully, students begin to envision where they want to be. (Truth be told, most students envision when recess begins, but play along with me.) Mental pictures of vacation homes and fancy cars, the trappings of “success,” dance in their mind. They get the message: if you want to get what you want, crack open the books and get down to business.

Herein lies the problem. The message boils down to this: determine what your heart wants, and then apply your mind to chart the course to get it.

Bad news. This is backwards. Education must teach children how to make basic moral choices in life. The foundational three R’s should empower them to be Righteous, Responsible and Reverent, as well as competitive in the marketplace.

A basic tenet of chassidic thought is that the mind can—and must—direct one’s passions, first to understand what is virtuous, and then to compel, or (preferably) convince, the emotional side to get excited about it too.

In his Tanya (chapter 9), Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi describes the battle between the instinctual “animal soul” and the transcendent “G‑dly soul.” They each claim a home base: the animal soul is most comfortably positioned in the reactive heart, easily persuaded by fad and attraction, willing to follow the next whim that appears. The G‑dly soul is based in the rational mind, finding purpose through rational process.

Not content to “live and let live,” they each seek to conquer the body—and so the battle is on. They are so single-minded they even attempt to infiltrate the opponent’s home base. The animal soul is eager to commandeer the mind’s cleverness to help realize its desires, while the G‑dly soul seeks to harness the heart’s passion for more enthusiastic service of G‑d and the betterment of humanity.

So how is one who’s caught in the crossfire of these two combatants to determine if his impulse is G‑dly or self-serving? Look to the source. If it originates in the intellect, that’s a clue that it’s a G‑dly soul impulse; if the return address reads “heart,” it’s probably from the animal soul.

We must teach schoolchildren to pursue their studies in order to form a moral and ethical code, enabling them to make a genuine difference in the world, not just the next “best mousetrap.” Sharpen your mind in hopes of making it more resilient against the wiles of the animal soul.

When the administration recommends searching the heart for “what you want” and then engaging the mind to “figure out how to get it,” they send the message that desire is king and intelligence its servant. G‑d created humans with their head above their hearts, reminding us that we must develop our emotional capacity under the tutelage of the mind to be of greater service to G‑d and mankind.

The school bell will ring for the final time in every student’s career, and the task of translating education into living will be thrust upon them. School must equip its charges with the tools to defend against the bombardment of temptation through mind-over-heart G‑dliness.

Now go out there and do some real good!

And parents, hurry up and get toweled off; the kids will be home any minute . . .

Rabbi Baruch Epstein is a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Illinois, and serves as the rabbi of Congregation Bais Menachem. He and his wife Chaya are the proud parents of three daughters.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (60)
January 23, 2017
we should not have school because we need to be self sufficient in life without the help of teachers
December 18, 2016
Well there's nothing fun about having to sit in a small room and memorize stuff you'll forget for eight hours a day almost everyday. Also they just want us to memorize the stuff they want us to know not what actually helps us what does learning about how the french revolution started help me do taxes or manage a business
Shangri La
December 15, 2016
I hate school. It's a waste of my time and there's no reason to try when all they do is put you down if you have a hard time with understanding it all. They only care about the special snowflakes who know everything in the world and don't let those who have other talents not in academic classes shine. School is saying you can't be successful if you don't understand why cells multiply and how to find an angle bisector. No one cares if you can sing, make art, or even play an instrument. All school makes you do is work for stuff you mostly likely won't use unless you get a true high paying job like a business man. I can't do that if my talents aren't in that field, so therefore I will have a hard time finding a job. Really?? Why bother if I know I'm not gonna change the world? Everyone is just gonna die anyway.
October 25, 2016
i watched a video on youtube and the person said that they actually use some stuff they learned in school in real life.
October 16, 2016
I think I might know why I go to school now...
October 13, 2016
yes kids need to go to school to get the education and learn about the world and be something in life and inspire other people .Also it helps people know whats going on in the worold
bear lakes middle
September 30, 2016
Am only a teen and I know most of the basic things and more than a adult would know(Traffic rules/Law/Amendments etc). Am not bragging or anything but I have learnt all of this stuff in elementary and we are just relearning it in middle school with more electives.I already know how to make money online but still have to go to school and the things they're teaching us won't help us in life like photosynthesis and how to find a perimeter of the circle etc,and my parents are teaching me most of the school things.Middle school/High school/College should be an option for a kid who knows a lot or a kid who knows how to make money.
September 8, 2016
It is very important to provide basic education for your kid. Children spend most of their time in school and school is one place from where they are going to learn the values. My kid studies in Greenwood High and I must share that my kid corrects me when I'm violating any traffic rule. The quality of education not only in terms of textbooks but also in terms of values.
July 20, 2016
I mean we don't need school when we have books and the internet. Why can't we learn in an environment we all feel comfortable in, like at home or at the park? I guess the higher ups think that we've got too much free time but isn't that what life's about? Living freely and choosing our path? I know that reading, writing and maths is very important but why teach us history and all that? I don't even remember most of the things I learnt during high school... so all that was for nothing. I'm successful right now but that's only because of a piece of paper showing that I have completed school. Stupid people can complete school and also end up being successful so it's not all about education it's about making sure that we live how they want us to live.
June 15, 2016
School: Its only a way to prepare you for stress, peer pressure and struggle with authority. Such experiences happen outside the classroom, why make us sit there seven hours everyday for that? I believe that the basics of each subject should be addressed, and then at the age of 13/14 we should have the option to continue school or start your life early. They say its better to start young. Maturity and exposure occur through meeting new people and dealing with all kinds of things, school only increases the possibility of those things to occur but not necessarily positively. Why put people through that when they have puberty and hormonal activity to already deal with?