The Forgotten Purpose of Education

As United States policy makers set out to raise the standards on education by implementing the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), I often think we have forgotten the purpose of education. Legislators have been convinced by “Education Reformers” that raising the standards will make our country competitive again in national tests and the rankings that follow. States, school districts and teachers have gotten caught up in attempting to teach the numerous standards each year. Many of us fail to cover it all. The argument made has been: “We don’t want Mary Poppins teachers”, you know those who teach a few of their favorite things. “We want to know that all students have the same educational foundation”, often called guaranteed and viable. Other education educational buzz words often used to describe new curriculum are rigorous and relevant.

When reading about the new CCSS non-educators often feel it is a needed change, especially with all the negative press education has received lately. Many educators have spoken out against the CCSS, arguing that it is a sign of corporate take over to education and takes away from the arts, leaving education  dry and  scripted. Really lost in all of this banter is the TRUE purpose of education.

Is education supposed to:

  • Guarantee that individuals know curriculum?
  • Create employable students?
  • Enable students to be college ready?
  • Solve a quadratic equation?
  • Create a graph?
  • Use the scientific method?
  • Speak a foreign language?
  • Create an App?
  • Write a song?
  • Paint a Masterpiece?
  • Build a house?

The answer is simple yet lost in all of the discussion about education lately. Education is for ONE thing and ONE thing only. Since the dawn of time education has been about LEARNING to LEARN. Once this process is completed we can do all of the above if we so desire.

Think about it: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Wozinak did not follow a “Common Curriculum” on their paths to greatness. Mozart, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock would have never created such wonderful works if their learning bound by a “common” content.

Schools need to become a place where students learn the basic skills. Then they are allowed to  explore topics pushing their teachers to help them. This is the discovery that four and five year-olds have, the endless questioning and excitement. You know the ones parents get tired of and answer with BECAUSE!   Schools should not be on clocks, expecting everyone to discover their path by 18. Some get to the road much quicker and others might like to wander in the woods for awhile.

A teacher will know they have done their job when their pupils finds answers to their questions without assistance.

Remember schools can’t teach all the skills needed for employment. Too many jobs and skill sets are changing too fast. I went to high school in the 1980’s: No internet and few computers. Look at me now writing a blog!! Once we know how to learn we can do anything we desire!

Let’s return education to its true purpose: TEACHING how to LEARN!!

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One thought on “The Forgotten Purpose of Education”

  1. Wonderful blog post! Oh how I wish for the days of old when inspirational, innovative and imaginative teaching was the norm. Today’s movement to squelch this will only hurt our students today and later our world… thanks for sharing.

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