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