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In the majority of today’s societies, nearly every person is expected to learn how to read and write. This might seem to be something that has always been true, but it is only in the last few centuries that societies have found it necessary to give each person a basic education that includes a broad range of subjects. Throughout much of human history, the majority of people were illiterate. Many of them never learned anything more than a trade, and this was considered normal.

Modern societies have found a need to teach everyone something basic about most subjects, and they generally have a formal curriculum for their students. Receiving a formal education today is about learning enough to be able to solve most issues that crop up in life, and students are expected to be able to use their knowledge for a lifetime in a world where reading, writing and even mathematics will play an important role.