School is where you go between when your parents can’t take you and industry can’t take you.

What did John Updike mean by:

School is where you go between when your parents can’t take you and industry can’t take you.


This quote encapsulates the societal expectation and norm of going to school as a bridge between childhood and adulthood. It suggests that school serves as a transitional phase, a holding place, between the time parents cease to be the primary caregivers and the time when the industry or the workforce is ready to accept you. It implies that school is not just about education or gaining knowledge, but also about maturation and preparation for the real world.

The quote also subtly critiques the system, hinting that the purpose of school is not necessarily to foster individual growth or intellectual curiosity, but rather to keep young people occupied until they are old enough to contribute to the economy. This suggests that the value of a person in society is largely determined by their economic productivity, and school is the mechanism that prepares individuals for this role.

Applying this idea to today’s world, we can see that the traditional model of education is increasingly being challenged. With the rise of homeschooling, online learning, and alternative education methods, people are seeking more personalized and flexible learning experiences that cater to individual needs and interests, rather than simply serving as a one-size-fits-all preparation for the workforce.

In terms of personal development, this quote can be a reminder to seek learning opportunities beyond the confines of formal education. It encourages us to not simply view school as a stepping stone to employment, but to seek out knowledge and skills that truly interest us and contribute to our personal growth. It underscores the importance of lifelong learning, curiosity, and intellectual growth, reminding us that education does not end when we leave school, but is a continuous journey throughout our lives.

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