The purpose of education?

What is the purpose of education?  By Elizabeth W, 09 November 2009

'Education' cartoon

Cartoon, courtesy of Children’s Education Advisory Service, UK ✔

This is a huge, interesting and vital topic. I’m not worried about the fact that we do educate in a structured way; I don’t object to the idea of school, as it need not be cut off from the rest of life. Equally homeschooling, when done badly, can be very isolating for children. I do worry about why we educate, though.

I left secondary education nine years ago and already the goals of education were exam success, leading to financial success and confirmation of social status. There wasn’t much room for exploring the world for pleasure. I know this is not typical of all schools, but it must be so in many.

One feature of education that I do find interesting is the training in scepticism. For example, examining newspapers to try and discern where the paper fits on the political spectrum and then what agendas such positioning might produce. Or in a maths class, being given some figures for a case study and trying to use different types of statistical analysis to ‘prove’ differing interpretations. I feel this is good training, because it tries to inculcate a tendency to question what one’s told, what are the motives of the teller and whether the evidence they’re giving one is really water-tight. But then maybe we can go too far and make the distrust so ingrained that we don’t believe anything or anyone and we become apathetic about the world and dissociated from it.

Hmmmm, still undecided on that one, it’s probably a bit of both.