The question I have been frequently asked by parents is: “You teachers only need to focus on teaching one subject, and my child has to deal with ten. Why do we need to learn so much if we are going to forget most of them anyway?”

Before answering the question, we have to ask: “What is the purpose of education?” Without philosophizing this topic and turning it into a book, let me keep the answer simple: “To provide means for solving problems in the world and insights of approaching an enjoyable life.”

In today’s rapidly evolving world, education must go beyond textbooks and traditional classrooms. As we witnessed how Artificial Intelligence played a big role in improving COVID-19 diagnosis, prediction, and treatment, the interdisciplinary approach to solving problems in the modern-day world is not just common but crucial.

There is a nuance; however, that requires careful distinction: education does not give answers to big life questions. In the Lotus Sutra, Buddha mentions the central concept, “expedient means” (upaya), where the teachers must tailor their teachings to the audience. The different paths of teaching itself are important lessons—it is an ability to adapt and solve complex problems. Education does not give direct answers but provides options to tackle the tasks at hand.

As for the effect of a well-rounded education on life, John Keating, from the book Dead Poets Society, beautifully puts it: “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But Poetry, beauty, romance, love—these are what we stay alive for.” What are we if we are not equipped with education to appreciate what makes us humans?

This is why learning a wide range of subjects is important—it equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate and contribute to this complex world. As the late Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech, “You’ve got to find what you love…Keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” And to find true love in life, one must “Stay hungry. stay foolish.” Keep on learning!