Saturday, February 5, 2011

The purpose of education

An educated population is probably the least governable, the most likely to rebel, the most stubborn and the most critical. But it is a population capable of the most extraordinary things, because each person strides purposefully forward, and of their own volition, together, they seek a common destiny - Stephen Downes
Purpos/ed launched this week.  It's an organisation to promote debate about the purposes of education with the 3-year aim of improving education for all.  So far I've read the tweets about what various people think the purpose of education is, and I've also read a great 500 word blog post by Stephen Downes on what he thinks the purpose of education is.  I'm interested, fascinated actually, to see what comes of this movement and whether policy makers will listen.

I'm also fascinated by the quote at the top because in my experience this is also true of good schools.  These schools are great because of the teachers .... and the teachers are great simply because they are pushing the limits - they are critical (of themselves and others) and at times find it hard to pull together because they have strong ideas.  I have worked with teachers like that and it's not always an easy ride.  Yet the truth of the matter is that these passionate teachers are the ones making a difference, the ones who encourage ordinary kids to become extraordinary, the ones who encourage them to reach high.  I want to work with people like that!

Reading the tweets that responded to the statement "I think the purpose of education is ...." there are some common ideas:

  • the purpose of education is to become more than you presently are/to help every child reach his or her own potential/to inspire learners to achieve their aspirations/to equip children with the tools needed to develop themselves 
  • to encourage children to be responsible, caring, courageous, sociable and creative adults who live life well 
  • to enable people to understand, navigate, contribute to, challenge & change the world
  • to provide opportunities for thought, debate and the development of ideas
  • to open minds
Join in the debate.  What do you think the purpose of education is?  Use the hashtag #purposes on Twitter.  

Photo Credit:  Happy Girl Hopscotch in Strawberry by D. Sharon Pruitt

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