The purpose of education in UK schools should be to contribute to the development of adult citizens. There are a couple of obvious weaknesses with this statement.
The first is that it is of course legitimate (but I suggest not enough) to say that education is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. However, education occurs not isolated from, but within, society and it inevitably helps shape any future society. Therefore isn’t education, more than being simply an end, necessarily functional? (I would value comments or criticisms on this train of thought.)
The second weakness is ultimately the subject of this blog. That is: what do we mean by development and what is an adult citizen?!
I used the phrase ‘contribute to the development’ because as a starting point I think we should acknowledge that school cannot teach everything. A school’s principal function must be to offer a minimum foundation for further development. The contemporary buzzwords ‘learning to learn’ and ‘lifelong learning’ are appropriate. Nevertheless, the problem is still there: what knowledge, skills and understanding do we consider make for the foundation of a developed adult citizen? What qualities do we consider students should have developed by the end of their compulsory schooling?
So far in this blog I have pointed to ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘citizenship’ as starting points for possible answers. There are discussions on entrepreneurship below. I have also suggested ‘social justice’ as a requirement. The words ‘social justice’ require discussion, but what I mean for the moment, and what is perhaps most important, is that we need to find a way to break the link between educational attainment and socio-economic status.
The purpose of this blog is to serve as a stimulus, and repository, for my thoughts on the above considerations. It is not supposed to be academic in any formal sense and my comments and content are supposed to be tentative and probing in nature. I welcome any input: to comment upon, clarify, help define, and, most importantly, criticise and rebut anything that’s been said.