The purpose of education


Sometimes it's just reassuring to listen to the wisdom of people like Noam Chomsky. If you've got a spare 20 minutes settle down with a coffee and watch this video in which he discusses (notes in italics my own):

  1. The purpose of education: contrasting two different perspectives, (a) the 'enlightment' (where the highest goal in life is to inquire, create, quest for understanding etc.) and (b) "indoctrination" (where from childhood people need to be placed in a framework where they'll comply with instructions etc. – ref The Crisis of Democracy)
  2. Impact of technology: while the technological change we are currently experiencing is significant, the impact of the technologies of the early 1900s is greater in terms of the transofrmational shifts in society. Technology is basically 'neutral' (like a hammer) and can be used for good or bad – we need to have sound frameworks that underpin our use of the internet, for example, when searching for information. 
  3. Whether education should be perceived as a cost or an investment: Do we want to have a society of free, creative, thinking individuals, or people who can increase GDP?
  4. The value of standardised assessment: reflecting on the shifts in educational thinking from passing on knowledge or passing the test. Learning that engages and excites us is of a lot more value than passing tests. It's not what we 'cover' (in order to pass the test) but what we 'uncover'.  

Presented at the Learning Without Frontiers Conference – Jan 25th 2012- London (LWF 12)  

2 thoughts on “The purpose of education

  1. The question posed in #3 shows the true dilemma we find ourselves in today. Do we educate all to create as a moral obligation or do we only invest in what we get a great return on? The answer is more towards the former because creativity breeds innovation. It was this that lead to the American Century. It will be our focus on the latter that leads us to the end of the line. 

  2. Well I did as you said, got an expresso and sat down.  
    "The person who won the nobel prize.. isn't the one who read the most journals    …to seek what is significant …. and to question what is on the right track.  "

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