I struggled writing the title for this blog because it’s so obvious isn’t it? Of course education makes us cleverer, for many that’s the whole point. I suspect that many people, like me, have assumed that it’s about ‘filling’ our heads with knowledge but learning offers much more than that – it’s not just about making the most of the cognitive ability we have, the process of developing skills (mental, affective and physical) actually improves the brain itself.
According to the Brainwaves 2 report from the Royal Society this month (summarised earlier), education is “the most broadly and consistently successful cognitive enhancer of all.” It recognises that in popular understanding, cognitive enhancement is more usually associated with drugs, vitamins or sophisticated technologies so it’s nice to be reassured that that fundamental part of our lives, learning, is the most effective neurological exercise we can enjoy.
It’s reinforced by a study published in Bio-med Central by researchers looking at the Framingham Offspring Study. Analysis of nearly 4000 participants indicates that better education leads to lower blood pressure, lower body mass index (BMI), less smoking and less drinking (although educated women drink more than their less educated sisters, apparently).
It’s an important message to send to those who think the purpose of school is merely to find a job and that learning ends at the school gate.