“Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or for the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order. We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education. So let me explain for why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.”

A lot of people figure that if they don’t use a particular service, then they don’t want to pay into that service. We could look at something like social assistance, for example, or public health care. If you are reasonably affluent, it’s unlikely you’ll need to collect welfare any time soon. If you are reasonably healthy, there’s a good chance that you won’t need to visit the hospital any time soon either. But what about public education?

If you’re not currently a student and you don’t have any children in school, you might think that you’re not extracting any value from your tax dollars being put toward the local schools. Well, John Green disagrees. He’s the resident host of Mental Floss, one of my favorite channels on YouTube. They release videos with interesting facts and tidbits of information, generally in list form. You can learn about life hacks, winter holiday traditions, superstition origins, unusual animals and more.

In the quote above, Green asserts that we all benefit from public education each and every day, because public education lends itself to having a more educated population. Voters can make more educated decisions, putting “better” people in charge of the country, and hopefully enacting laws and regulations that are generally good. A more education population is likely also a more affluent population, raising the standard of living for everyone. And let’s not forget that most of us are the products of public education too.

Yes, some have argued that the things we learn in school have no real practicality in the real world. However, the point isn’t whether you will use trigonometry and calculus in your regular, everyday life. The point is that lessons like those help prepare you to think and see in a certain way. They better prepare you to tackle new problems. These soft skills can be adapted to different situations, just as my degree in psychology and English literature has been helpful in my everyday dealings as a freelance writer.

I know that several readers of this blog are involved in public education in one form or another and they will attest to its value in improving society as a whole. As a concept, publicly funded education is a fantastic idea and it really is an investment in our future. Of course, public education systems can always be improved, but that’s another matter for another day.

Until next time, don’t forget to be awesome.