What is the purpose of education?

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.

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purposed.org.uk

Tom Barrett

Tom is a writer, speaker and consultant. He has been sharing his thoughts on teaching, learning, curiosity and creativity on this blog for over 10 years. Drinking coffee and writing would be his idea of a perfect day.

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[…] The Power of Wrong Tom Barrett’s excellent discussion on the purpose of education can be found here: edte.ch/blog/2011/02/11/what-is-the-purpose-of-education/ […]

Privatdetektive agency
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Education is vitally important. It increases your knowledge, skills and develops you fully. If you want to get a good job, you should have a good education.

Sue Cowley
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Sue Cowley
3 years 3 months ago

I hope your son has as good an experience of state primary schools are my 2 children did. Funny how our perspective as parents can change our thinking as teachers.

Smart
Guest
Smart
3 years 8 months ago

I’m Kinika
Smart, department of business trade in Shenyang University of Chemical
Technology China. I think education is an instrument used in boosting ones
mentality and sense of reasoning on how to leave a sustainable life, the basic
part in obtaining education is by parents while going to school is to rebrand
and modify the one been obtained from your parents.

Azadeh
Guest
Azadeh
4 years 2 months ago

 thank u so much for nice ideas every body… i have a daughter…she’s 4 years..

Oshomi Rosemary N
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Oshomi Rosemary N
4 years 3 months ago

one basic different that distinguish an educated fellow from illiterate is level of understanding when situation arose,composure,courage and the lit. there is no recognition of one that has noting to give now.I wonder what one with low level of education has to offer this modern word of ours full of technologies. Inshot and infact education make a man. Education! the strongest weapon to defeat poverty and ignorance.

Ifakhn21
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Ifakhn21
4 years 5 months ago

i dont understand

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4 years 7 months ago

Henry…

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4 years 7 months ago

carpet cleaning…

[…]What is the purpose of education? | edte.ch[…]…

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[…] The Power of Wrong Tom Barrett’s excellent discussion on the purpose of education can be found here: edte.ch/blog/2011/02/11/what-is-the-purpose-of-education/ […]

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4 years 7 months ago

quit Smoking…

[…]What is the purpose of education? | edte.ch[…]…

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4 years 8 months ago

Kurslar…

[…]What is the purpose of education? | edte.ch[…]…

Robin Piggott
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4 years 8 months ago
The purpose of education is to guide human beings to achieve the basic life goals, which is to exist, multiply and act positively in caring for the environment and contributing to the society. Education is more than schooling and is the process of dispelling human ignorance of the world as well as developing the inherent potential for perfection. Every human being without exception is seeking for happiness in life and has the inherent potential to live happily. Also, the resources needed to attain happiness in life are in the world. Unfortunately, human beings lack a clear understanding of how to… Read more »
Noorahmedsoomro
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Noorahmedsoomro
4 years 9 months ago

Education is probably one of the core elements
that contribute to the holistic development of a person. It is defined
as the process of developing a person’s knowledge, skill and character
by going through a learning process.today’s advancement and progress in modern science or present humen civilization is because of education.Soomro Noor Ahmed NoorGuddu Sindh

 

rararchives
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rararchives
4 years 9 months ago

Hi ! Thank you for this
information.
rararchives

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[…] developing th&#1077 inclination &#1072nd th&#1077 skills t&#959 keep learning. A&#1109 Tom &#1072nd Lisa h&#1072&#957&#1077 pointed out, w&#1077′re born w&#1110th inclination; &#1110n […]

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4 years 10 months ago

forex trainning…

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meenu
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meenu
4 years 10 months ago

a very good definition indeed for the future

Engcraxmaan mohamed hassan
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Engcraxmaan mohamed hassan
4 years 10 months ago

fist greated him all this comment my name is abdirahman mohamed hassan iam somalia students
degree of bachelor international university of africa faculty of engineering ok
i don’t have clear idea but if guess education is the key of the life
as we know education person and non education person are not same good byy

BSo
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BSo
4 years 11 months ago

I love it. Nice work, some part of my question that it was knocking on my head has been solved. thanks!!!!

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What is Motorcycle Repair?…

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Forex Trading
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Forex Trading
4 years 11 months ago

Great work, I read the column, continue the nice work. Thanks.
Forex
Trading

Philip
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Philip
5 years 4 days ago
Education comes from the Latin word for “To draw out from” meaning the answer is inside the child so will always be found when searched for from a higher level of awareness than the level that created the problem. Schooling is a system to produce unthinking cogs to support the corrupt political-economic system that only gives temporary gain for a few. Remember the reason why compulsory education was imposed under the Child Factory Workers Acts was to force poor people back into economic slavery for MP’s (the land owners who had robbed the poor people of their land via the… Read more »
Gahunzai
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Gahunzai
5 years 24 days ago

purpose of education should be in bullit points

Gahunzai
Guest
Gahunzai
5 years 24 days ago

purpose of education should be in bullit points

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[…] I hope that she reads some of the posts as they are extremely thought provoking, and of course my own contribution relates to her as she is my son’s […]

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[…] builds on this idea (which was taken from a post by Dave White)  and mashes it up with Tom Barrett’s comment that “Education should be about cradling happiness”.  I feel that both ideas are true […]

Kiwinomad06
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Last year I did a university paper in NZ Flora, At the end I knew it had been a great paper, because I finished with more questions than I had started with.
Thanks for putting your ideas about nurturing the sparks, and inspiring children. One of the reasons I am so very uncomfortable with the huge emphasis these days on things like ‘learning intentions’ etc these days is that they are so teacher-driven. They don’t leave room for the artistry where a teacher can draw forth from a child those things they are most passionate about.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
5 years 4 months ago

Well, you know what Picasso said, “the problem is not becoming an adult but how to remain as a child”. I paraphrase but a lot of the “problem” of school lies in the purpose of producing conformity and consumers and sucking the “child driven” happiness and curiousity out of a person.

I always look at adults with an eye to seeing how much of the child they have left in them….

David

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[…] In agreement with Tom Barrett, we need not only “cradled happiness” but unbridled passion and joy in learning, as unabashedly stated by my friend Gardner Campbell as simple but pure as “love”. […]

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[…] In agreement with Tom Barrett, we need not only “cradled happiness” but unbridled passion and joy in learning, as unabashedly stated by my friend Gardner Campbell as simple but pure as “love”. […]

There's always one!
Guest
There's always one!
5 years 6 months ago

Simply to allow us to dream but also the important bit to understand those dreams and how we can get close if not accomplish them but also how we may be damaging them!

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George Haines
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

To me, the goal is pretty clear: to cultivate contributors.

Embedded in that idea are other large concepts. For example, if you aren’t competent, you aren’t contributing. So, developing competence is a major sub-set.

Equally important is the idea that education isn’t something for an individual, it is a gift we give to others. For example, the people who finally solved the BP oil leak shared their deep knowledge and problem solving skills with the fisherman of the Gulf Coast.

Contributing is the goal and incompetence or unwillingness to solve others’ problems are the hurdles.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago

Well in whichever form your reflections take and whenever you feel ready to
take that step, two things I can guarantee for you. 1) You will benefit
hugely from the type of connections and conversations it generates 2) From
your comments I can tell your contribution to the community will be hugely
valuable to others, encouraging debate and inspiring thinking. Go for it!

Kfeagin
Guest
Kfeagin
5 years 6 months ago
I am working toward that goal. It is a process for me. I blog with my students and have seen what a powerful tool it is. The very authentic feeling that someone out there is listening to what we have to say and respond. Is there a more important purpose for writing? I am still trying to figure out where I feel most comfortable putting my ideas out there and making myself uncomfortable. I am fortunate to work in a fantastic community where the sharing of ideas is well received and am being challenged to explore and connect with a… Read more »
James Michie
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
Yes, I am afraid that is very true. No more so than here in Bucks where we have a selective system. So many of our students arrive having had their uniqueness beaten out of them, lumped in with the rest of the kids that didn’t pass the 11+. This is part of the reason I have remained at the one school for the past eight years. I take great pride in working at one of the few public schools in the area; working with these supposed failures, helping them find their uniqueness again. While there are a myriad of challenges… Read more »
Angie Harrison
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Angie Harrison
5 years 6 months ago
As a parent I honestly just want my children to be happy at school. It’s what most adults want for the children in our schools. However, as an educator I think we don’t always understand what happiness means. I think students can be happy when they feel respected by the adults and students in the building. They develop happiness when they experience success and feel what they are doing each day makes a difference in the world. That’s what I want for my own children. That’s what I see in my students who come in eager to learn and make… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago

Indeed and if you write a blog I believe that it provides a wonderful opportunity to structure your reflections, to share what you are thinking and to gain valuable insight and perspective on your work. The process of writing and reflecting on my own teaching and involvement in education over the last 5 years has been incredible. Do you have such a space?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago

It takes us to unlock that sometimes, as teachers we need to feel we can allow children to express what they want to find out – but also provide structure to allow them to enjoy that discovery. This also boils down to what extrinsic pressure the school is under, which permeates to the classrooms too. If that pressure is too apparent the reins get drawn in.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago

There is much more but you touch on some important themes here, which I appreciate. Children can learn so much about what learning is like for themselves when on the journey of seeking out answers. Education is one of the main vehicles for exposing the message of what knowledge is, how we interact with it and make it our own. Education has a duty to get that right.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago

I was raised up believing
I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes
Unique in each way you can see

And now after some thinking
I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
Serving something beyond me

Which of Robin Pecknold’s (Fleet Foxes) stanzas best describes what we seek within education? I’d like to think that the first is often where most five year olds begin and sadly the second is where they eventually end up.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago

I think if we are seeing this in children in primary schools before pupils are 11 then something is seriously wrong in the system, because you can bet your bottom dollar that most children knew how to explore and play and express themselves when they were 5.

Kfeagin
Guest
Kfeagin
5 years 6 months ago
By nature I tend to be a rule-follower. When faced with new programs, initiatives, legislation I work to implement them in my classroom What I sometimes let go of is reflection, of asking why. In this way, I sometimes give up what I am passionate about. I just hand it over No initiative police show up at my classroom door, and yet when something does not work I pour energy into trying to fix what may have been broken to start with. It is exciting to me to be discovering a network of others who are striving to find their… Read more »
James Michie
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
Exactly and I think this born from the target driven culture that schools are now steeped in. The focus on targets results in most teachers teaching to the test – aiming to guarantee results not for the students but for themselves, their department, their HT, their school. In this culture creativity, freedom, exploration are as Tom put it: “strangled”! I see it everyday at my own school and no matter how many conversations I have, how many CPD sessions I lead many of my colleagues still will not acknowledge that they could achieve the same or better results by allowing… Read more »
Amos McMorrow
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
Thanks for the post Tom, I also have that “parental vested interest” I became a teacher 4 years ago after a 13 year career as a programmer. I wanted to be involved with teaching and be in a position to guide my own children (as my dad, also a teacher, did for me). I was really fortunate to be on the Warwick GTP course, who taught me the “mechanics” of teaching. Initially it was easy to think that the National Curriculum was the beginning and end of what kids “needed” from their schooling. I love the current debate about “why”… Read more »
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A Ross-Saunders
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A Ross-Saunders
5 years 6 months ago

I think education is about engendering a certain disposition towards knowledge. It should be about making children feel empowered by their own questions and the exciting journey of seeking out answers.
And I feel it is imperative that education reveals that knowledge is not just a mass of facts and figures to learn, but that it is CREATED – and we all have the potential to discover and create knowlege.

There’s much more, but I only have a few minutes spare!

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