I was scanning down my Twitter feed the other day, like you do, and I came across a tweet that presented a challenge. Never one to shy away from a challenge, and having no immediate topic to waffle about this week, I thought that I would accept the challenge and answer the question – “What is the purpose of education?”. This was one of the most difficult waffles I have written. As I mentioned before, academic writing like this is not my strong point. Oh – a requisite was to do it in less than 500 words – so this is the pre waffle and doesn’t count towards my wordage…
What is the purpose of education? Your challenge is to answer this in 500 words on your blog or elsewhere. Tag it share it >> #purposed
It is important to identify the starting point for this waffle. Searching for an initial definition of education, brings up searches relating to systematic instruction or teaching within school. However, there is the another definition relating to education being an ‘enlightening experience’. Education is therefore not just something which only happens in an institution of learning, it is something which happens every day and is part of everything which we do. This definition captures the awe and wonder of education – those times of sudden realisation or sense of achievement when the determination and application pays off or those constantly moving cogs of concepts within our brains final get into synch and we understand. Education is not something which only happens when we are at school or sat in front of a book or MacBook (oops laptop). It is a constant process which we embark on personally from the moment we wake up to that time when sleep finally takes us. Some might even say that it continues through our sleep and dreams. Education is the process by which we as individuals accumulate new skills and knowledge and reflect on these, identifying how to apply them to our continuing adventure through life. Every moment of every day, we are being educated – we are exposed to new topics, encounter or learn new skills and meet people developing our social and interactive skills. Education is the key vehicle for learning and, because of this, as the important role of representing learning itself. Often we might chose to intensify our education by attending, either willingly or unwillingly, institutions of learning which we call schools and university. In today’s society the purpose of education within these institutions appears to be to drive towards goals and achievements identified by global and generalised criteria. We learn as individuals and yet the purpose of education today appears to be to channel learners through predesigned tunnels of knowledge towards the global end of tunnel light which are government targets or previously designed learning outcomes. Education is as individual as learning itself and therefore the sole purpose of education should be to facilitate the development of individuals. I feel that the education system, through all stages, including higher education, might not develop learners as individuals but decide for them what they need to learn and when that learning will be appropriate. As I try to write my PHD proposal I find it difficult to identify my own direction for my learning – is this the result of years of being told what to learn and when to learn it? As facilitators of learning we are aware of the stages and the knowledge that is needed, but should we use this knowledge to impose the direction and level of learning? Surely education is about allowing the freedom to develop skills to form our own learning and acknowledging that the knowledge and skills are built on each other. The process of an individual’s education can be varied, random and often chaotic. In order to make this manageable we attempt to create order and routine in the process. But in doing this, it could be possible that education strays away from its initial purpose of promoting and supporting the learning of each of us as individuals.
Sorry – I am forty four words over and I am not sure whether I have put across my view effectively. I have to say that I don’t have any answers for the questions I put forward and traditionalists might argue that we ‘as experts’ need to demonstrate the learning route within the education process – which I acknowledge. I guess I might be an idealist thinking that we can have an education process that meets the individual needs of all learners. This might be why my focus is on the learning within the system and how I can creative new and innovate ways in order to promote a more individual approach. These approaches. of course, will involve technology
This has been a slightly different form of a waffle so I hope you have enjoyed it. If you have any other areas that you would like me to waffle about or to hear my opinions on then please let me know by adding them in the comments below or sending them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.
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Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later