“What is school for?” is a big, thorny question.
One way to sidle up to it is to ask the question of each part of school: this assignment, this stress, this grade, this requirement …
What’s it for?
The obvious answer is that it’s for learning — which begs the question, what’s that for?
For a tiny minority of people, learning is the foundation for more learning. These are the true professional scholars, and their vocation is precious.
For most people, though, the purpose of learning is more practical. They acquire ideas in order to make things happen in the world. Ideas can be things in this sense, but the idea for a smartphone is in a different category from theoretical computer science.
It’s not easy to go from ideas to action. And it’s not often effectively taught, especially not by teachers who are vocational scholars.
But, for both the scholarly minority and the practical majority, what it’s for is to learn how to use our minds to create work that matters.