David Kleiman Posted about 1 year ago Do you learn the basics to make it in life at school or on your own? Surprisingly, being a high school teacher myself does not make me feel able to confidently answer this question. I think at the heart of your question are two sub-questions. Question 1: What motivates people? In my experience, while we are all human and thus all similarly motivated at the most fundamental levels, motivation is complex non-the-less. We all respond to a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. The balance needed between these for us to approach our potential is where the complexity comes in. It depends on everything from parenting, personality, friends, life experiences, and of course, random chance. Having taught hundreds of students over 6 years it seems that most of my students rely more heavily on extrinsic motivators than I would like. These ones tend to need to the discipline and structure of school to force them to go through the motions of learning until they learn to love it (if they are lucky). Those that are naturally inquisitive and self motivated are often stifled by the structured learning required in conventional schools, but stand a chance of thriving if they learn to not only be self motivated but self sufficient and hard working (another set of complex skills to develop in and out of school). Question 2: Is school effective at imparting knowledge and skills? WAY too many factors to answer with even the vaguest degree of accuracy. There are different schools, administrators, teachers, teaching styles, demographics, parents, cultures, class sizes (and the list goes on) that the simple answer is that it can be successful for some and it is not for others. If I had to make a sweeping statement about the whole thing... humans are "designed" to learn from the their parents and community. With an adult to student ratio of 1 to 25, they learn more from each other than from the adults in school.