Character Chats

Purpose Of Going To School

What is our purpose behind going to school?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have taught special education for 15 years. I have two master’s degrees in education, and we’ve developed this program to best meet the needs of our youngest students of three or four, and our oldest students of 84.

Purpose of Education

And this month we’re talking about purpose. Today specifically, we’re talking about what is the purpose of going to school? What is the purpose of learning those school things?

And parents, adults, you may think that this is tailored for kids because we’re talking about school, but a lot of what we’re going to talk about today could also go towards work. Yes, work. The purpose of that is to earn a paycheck and be able to pay the bills.

But maybe you’re looking to better yourself. Maybe you’re looking to move up in your career. Maybe you’re looking to change the face of your particular profession in some way, shape or form. And taking what we’ve learned in school, taking what we learn if we go after a graduate degree or something like that, actually can help us moving forward. It gives us purpose; it gives us reason.

Deeper Purpose

Now, the kids will tell you that the purpose of school is math or reading or science or social studies or to learn. They keep it very much at the basic general idea. And yes, that is the purpose of school. We want the kids to learn, but there’s more to it. There’s a lot more to school than reading, writing, math and science.

Learning how to learn. So here as we’re working through different skills in karate, we do a lesson on note taking and writing down the curriculum that we’re doing. We do a lesson on focus or on paying attention and engaging our eyes and our ears and our mind and our body, all of which is stuff we also learn in school.

Because we’ll be sitting in our classroom and maybe this student over here is talking and that one over there shuffled their papers and there’s extraneous noise happening. And so, it has given us the opportunity to learn how to focus despite some of those distractions that may be happening around us. So, our purpose in going to school is learning, yes, absolutely, but also learning how to learn with other things happening around us.

And I’m sure parents, you’ve been in meetings and somebody’s phone has gone off, or somebody’s dropped something on the floor and needed to pick it up and it kind of distracts us a little bit. All of those things play a role in helping us do better.

We all have goals, we all have motivations, we all have intentions. We all have reasons for doing what we need to do. And school has a reason.

Group Projects

Let’s talk teamwork projects, group projects, working together to reach a common goal that gives you the purpose of learning how to work with other people. Maybe it’s your best friend, maybe it’s the person you actually don’t like, but you have to find a way to get along, to work together, to divide up the work, to make sure that you’re all pulling your own weight to do the best that you can possibly do.

And then as I was talking about the group projects, one of the things that came to mind had to do with here at the studio when we’re doing partner work. We switch partners a lot. And it serves a couple of reasons. One, it gives the kids a chance to meet new people a lot. Two, everybody wants to pair up with their friend the first time, and so they need to pair up with other people too, even if it’s somebody that they might not get along with or something like that. Three, it also gives you different size partners, whether they’re taller or shorter, younger or older. It gives you a chance to have a good mix of people working together that way.

Same thing goes with group projects in school. You’ve got tons of different abilities, tons of different interests, tons of different understanding of the material, and it helps everybody do their best work.

Learning How to Learn

So, school gives you a purpose of so much more than just reading, writing and math. It also teaches you how to learn. So, my daughter, back when she was in third grade or so, fell in love with ancient Egypt and mythological gods and things like that. Like ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, all of those gods and Cleopatra and everything that went along with that. And she would read anything and everything having to do with that particular subject. And school helped her learn how to pick up more information.

So, when we were recently traveling, she was able to apply things she learned in school to the world around her. So, it’s not just open up the textbook, but also reading body language, reading train station signs, reading menus in a different language, or understanding how things go together. And so, all of those things have to an extent been learned in school and given a foundation of the ability to understand what’s happening around us.

Recognizing Purpose

So, when we’re talking about what is the purpose of going to school, it’s so much more than just that one subject area. It gives you so much more than that. And I’m sure we all have other things that we can add on to that particular idea.

We have other things that we know we’ve learned in school beyond what I’ve shared today, but it gives us a goal. It gives us a motivation. It gives us a reason to go, because I might not be the person that likes science, but I really like to learn English and read Shakespeare. And I know that I can then take what I’ve learned and read more of what I’m enjoying, but I can also pull the information I need from the science as well.

So, as we go along, we’re going to keep talking about purpose because there is reason and intent and motivation in everything that we do. We just have to look for it, see it, recognize it, and embrace it.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here