Learning for life

Richard Branson looking serious
Image by Molly Choma
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 27 December 2019

As someone who didn’t finish school, I think it’s so important to become a lifelong learner and embrace an endless curiosity about the world.

Learning through chalk boards, textbooks and exams didn’t work for me, so at school I would dedicate my youthful passion and energy into sports. However, I ruptured my knee playing football and was forced to bottle all of that energy up indoors. I found myself obsessed with the news, politics and global affairs – and so began my lifelong love of learning. Despite my struggles at school, when I found my passion for the world I realised that as long as I’m interested in something, I can absorb everything about it.

Richard Branson writes in a notebook while travelling on a train
Image by the Branson family

Newspapers opened my eyes and broadened my mind in the way a textbook never did. As I became more informed about the world outside of school – and particularly disturbed by the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia – I felt compelled to do something. I wanted to give other young people an unbiased and digestible way of learning about the world around them, so they could form their own opinions and take a stand on issues that matter to them. As a result, Student Magazine was born.

I left school altogether and the magazine became my education. I feel very fortunate that I was able to find what I was truly passionate about, gain confidence in my abilities, and build a love of learning. Looking back, I wish my path wasn’t stumbled upon by accident, but was instead paved by the education system. School should help kids find their talents and embrace that talent, so young people can reach their full potential.

Richard Branson with the Student magazine team sitting on the grass
Image by Virgin.com

We reflected on this a lot during the 2019 Strive Challenge, when we got together to take on an adventure to raise money for Big Change, the charity Holly and Sam founded to reimagine education. Our group was made up of parents, educators, entrepreneurs, engineers, students and scientists – and we all agreed that for young people to become lifelong learners, they need to look outwards to learn. The classroom should be a place of curiosity, where questions are encouraged, and children can find the universe at their fingertips.

Richard Branson with a team of hikers with mountains behind them
Image by Adam Slama

The world is a fascinating place – full of incredible people, landscapes, histories, cultures and climates. We need to give students a whole education and properly prepare them for the world so they can take on the global problems they will inherit.