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The Value of Education, When the Cost is Free #KidsDeserveIt


"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get” - Warren Buffett

Before my educational career, I was a graphic designer at a digital photography studio. During my time with that company, the photographer shared an interesting concept of “value” through his own experience. Early in his career, the photographer was offering free sitting fees, which he thought would be an incentive to draw business to his studio. To his surprise, he was not able to gain many clients using this strategy. After some time, he decided to create a high-end photography business, which involved a very expensive sitting fee, to indicate the true value of his talent. To the photographer’s surprise, the company saw an immediate increase in business and demand.

Similar to popular culture, designer fashions, and advertising strategists, the photographer was able to utilize the concept of expense to define and validate the worth of his product to consumers. The expense resulted in the consumer interpreting the product to be one of high value, which lead to increased demand.

As the photographer saw an increase in business, he began to change his mindset on what services he provided. Instead of clients receiving identical template services, each customer was provided flexible options, more choices, and off-site options. It became an individualized experience instead of a standardized process. Although photography and education are drastically different professions, the common theme of value and experience translates between fields.

As a public school administrator, asking parents and students to pay a “sitting fee" for their education is outside the realm of possibility. However, it leads me to wonder, how are we communicating the value of education in a system which is mandatory and without monetary value for our students?

In education, we are tasked with a difficult dilemma. How do we define the cost for students to sit in our classes? And what value do they receive for that cost? Is the cost to our students: compliance, silence, and conformity? Or is it: to be challenged, collaborative and creative?   

Our students are our clients and they deserve to be more than consumers of knowledge. Each day, as an entity worthy of value, we must provide opportunities to instill virtues of lifelong learning through the cultivation of curiosity, grit, innovation, and creativity. Our students intrinsic motivation needs to be awoken and inspired through exploration of new ideas, interactions with peers, creative methods of practice, and individual self-reflection.  By providing an environment that invites, engages, and produces active participation, we establish a quality product for students to demand.

Similar to the photographer's experience, a shift in expectation and application initiates an opportunity to indicate the true value of education.  Our students pay each day with their time, effort, and energy. As educators offering a product of worth, our focus needs to go beyond testing strategies and memorization of facts to include the value each individual student receives in their own learning experience.
This post originally appeared on the #KidsDeserveIt Blog:

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