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Purpos/ed – 500 Words

by Eylan on February 21st, 2011

I was really lucky to know a little about Purpos/ed before it was launched – as I had been talking to Doug about the role of parents in education – and we had been wondering how that might roll into the larger questions of what we believe education is ‘for’. Now we are 3 weeks in, and the quality and range of the contributions so far has been immense, and I am rather nervous of trying to add to it. But, I will. My comments focus on the effect of schools – but totally take on the point that educationdoes not need to mean schools!

One more caveat – I do not have time to demonstrate my hippy, dippy, lefty  views in 500 words – or to provide enought evidence for my assertions. Suffice to say that I agree with 99% of the posts so far. But I am not writing to agree – but to challenge.

I have been mainly or broadly lefty all my life, and do not believe in God or ‘like’ organised religion. Yet, life experience has forced me to recognise that there are aspects  of two institutions I should hate – Faith schools and private schools – that many folk like me (and you – in all likelihood – dear reader) would do well to consider when asking what the purpose of education is.

1 – Most people believe that Faith Schools to do better than non-demominational schools. I am not going to try to answer why this is, or if it is true – but there are aspects of religious schooling that people (parents) value above, and alongside, ‘standards’.

A clear moral code- that there are rights and wrongs

Proof of fairness and an experience of respect

A shared cultural identity

A clear sense of the limits of the self and responsibility to wider community

I believe that a definition of the purpose of education – where ever it happens – should include these.

2 – People pay alot of money for Private schools – even though, on average, kids do no better or worse, academically, at these schools. So what do they pay for?  Many kids in these schools are ‘inspired’, given a sense of what ‘aspiration’ means, and a belief that that opportunities will come to them (perhaps even a sense of entitlement!). Don’t we all want this for our kids?

Let’s include the democratisation of aspiration in our purpose for education.

I also want my kids challenged by diversity and boredom, to be part of the crowd, to do all those other things. But, it is not just about what I want. The real purpose of education should be defined by the learner, at the time of wanting to learn. We just need to enable that to happen. Simples.

So, in the political and economic landscape we are in – we need to move beyond labels (like ‘free schools’) focus on doing – and get on with doing it ‘Right’.

School? Parenting? Being a good Global Citizen? Let’s just do it. NOW!

This article was written for Purpose/ed @purposeducation

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6 Comments
  1. Tom Franklin permalink

    One of the things that it seems to me distinguishes the private schools from non selective state schools is that they do not have to deal with disruptive pupils. Yes, there will be some disruptive activity and any class has its most disruptive member. But the type of behaviour that state schools have to handle soak up a huge amount of resource and leave less time for teachers to work with other students, so that both teaching and learning suffer.

    No, I don’t know what the answer is, but it might include better funding to support such students?

    • Eylan permalink

      Thanks for the comment Tom. I guess my post was trying to learn from and then look beyond existing structures – like the current broken system. I agree that private school ability to ‘screen’ and select pupils does all sorts of harm – and that there is no easy solution to this. However, funding is only part of the story.

      The discussion about ‘why’ we educate – not ‘how’ or what is wrong with the way we do it now – was the objective of this post, and of the #purpos/ed thread. I wonder what your concerns about disruption (some of which I share) says about how broken we all believe that the current arrangements are.

      Even if a parent has loads of money – there is still very limited ‘choice’. I hope that this debate stirs up a tidal wave of energy to make change locally to the schools local to you and I.

      Cheers Tom

  2. Thanks for this Eylan, some thought-provoking stuff! I, like you, don’t particularly agree with independent schools for the sake of privilege. I do, however, agree with parents sending their children to such schools for the purposes of exposing them to the type of educational approaches (Montessori, for example) that they might not get elsewhere.

    The problem, I suppose, is telling the difference.

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