Six or seven years ago my answer to this question would probably have been different. I am now both a teacher and a father, in fact I have been for nearly five years. I am both education consumer and provider. My son has just begun full time education and my perspective on what it should be is mixed.
I don’t have a clear idea about education’s purpose. I believe it is a whole range of things that I am sure are applicable to all of us in some respect.
My son is naturally curious, he asks questions when it seems there are none to ask. I don’t want education to answer them all for him necessarily – I want education to be there to listen to him, and to encourage him to question more. Education should help us to question what we see, hear and experience, and challenge the world we inhabit with our curiosity.
He dreams up imaginary characters / worlds / situations / predicaments / plot lines / battles / relationships and plays them out with what he has around him. I hope education shines a light on this creativity and seeks it out. Education should draw from him these precious sparks and help him craft them into something beautiful. Education needs to nurture the different precious sparks we all have.
I want him to struggle and to feel challenged. I want the education he encounters to be brave enough to let him fail and to support him if he does and help him learn the lessons. Environments that encourage risk and innovation will also intrinsically understand failure. Education should embrace all the ups and downs, the bumps in the road, the setbacks and hurdles, the scraped knees and bruises, the ‘Let’s have another go’, and not just the success at the end of the road / line / course / year .
To work in education it helps to be passionate. I want my son to see the drive and determination in another person at some point in the next few years. I want him to feel that human to human inspiration that is so powerful. Education should be about giving young people inspiration and belief – these can come from the environment that surrounds them. But it will probably resonate more strongly from one passionate person.
Looking out is as important as looking in. Education needs to support children to find out who they are as well as their place in the world and how they can make a difference.
My son is happy at school, he has made a great start. That makes us happy. Education should be about cradling happiness.