What is School For?

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At the close of another school year, we ask a basic question: What’s the point of education? Is it to build a workforce? To create democratic citizens? To figure out what matters in life?

We check in with a college student who barely made it through high school, only to find herself on a path to become an educator herself. Two teachers in Tucson tell us why they fought for a controversial Mexican-American Studies program. And in considering the role of classic literature for all of us, a professor tells us why he decided to take a Mediterranean cruise to retrace the journey of Odysseus with his dad.


a chalkboard

Caryn McKechnie didn’t like high school, but now she’s a college senior working on her teaching certificate. She went back to her high school to interview her favorite teacher. And that teacher? He left the public schools altogether.More

Student activist and Raza studies student Pricila from the film "Precious Knowledge."

Teachers Curtis Acosta and Jose Gonzalez explain the origins of Tucson's Mexican-American Studies program—and how their personal histories in school led them to teach these courses.More

paint brushes

Humanities programs are under siege. Their budgets are getting slashed as critics say schools should focus on job skills. But essayist Mark Slouka believes this is a tragic mistake.More

Ulixes mosaic at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia. 2nd century AD.

Daniel Mendelsohn was surprised—and unnerved—when his 81-year father enrolled in his seminar on "The Odyssey." And then delighted to see how his dad’s cranky comments excited his students. The experience also brought Daniel closer to his dad.More

Show Details 📻
September 30, 2017
May 26, 2018

Caryn McKechnie

Jose Gonzalez

Curtis Acosta

Mark Slouka

Daniel Mendelsohn

Last Updated: 
3 months 3 weeks ago