What is the Purpose of Education?


Last weekend Mr Fothergill and I abandoned our knowledge-thirsty students in favour of attending one of this year’s most anticipated and talked about festivals. However this was a festival with a difference. No glow sticks, whistles or bikini-clad ladies crushing their poor boyfriend’s shoulders whilst listening to their favourite bands. Instead, The Festival of Education is a collection of tweed-loving educationalists who just want to talk about improving teaching (however, when Mr F rocked up twenty minutes late to my house wearing shorts, a straw cowboy hat and cradling a can of Carling at 6:40 am, I suddenly got the feel that he was hoping to see McBusted).

Furthermore, to add to the overall geekiness of this so-called festival, instead of being located in a quagmire in the middle of nowhere, we were in fact in Hogwarts – this is not hyperbolic at all. Google ‘Wellington College’ and prepare to be amazed by images of whomping willows and half the England U18 rugby team playing quidditch in CCF uniforms on Wednesday afternoons.

Throughout the festival, many teachers and academics offered exceptional ideas and enlightened perspectives on how to improve education. From futuristic 3D printers to using The Simpsons to teach simultaneous equations, wherever you looked there was someone talking about something very interesting who had done it and bought the T-shirt, offering sage and helpful advice.

One particular highlight of the weekend was our final workshop. Mr F and I sat in a cramped tent on space-hopper chairs and discussed the purpose of education with some very intelligent and pleasant people. However, what was extremely interesting was that no one could really formulate and express with clarity what our opinion was. Was it to inspire a love of learning? Was it to ensure that students are fully prepared for the challenges ahead when they leave school? Was it to make people cleverer? Was it to enjoy mocking Hobbit-like teachers?

Therefore, I ask of you dear students to offer your own thoughts on the purpose of education and explain the important reasons you come to school. In your opinion, is it just to acquire new knowledge and skills? Or is there an additional function to schooling? Your responses in the ‘comments’ section below would be very much appreciated and I look forward to hearing them.

Kind regards,

Mr Morris

File:Sem título holi festival colours 2013.jpg

(Actual scenes from the Festival of Education when teachers and academics were discussing exam reforms)



2 thoughts on “What is the Purpose of Education?

  1. I once heard a jaded teacher claim that it was to keep children off the streets for at least five hours a day.

    Personally, the word ‘inspire’ jumps out at me. To inspire greatness, curiosity, a love of art and science, to inspire a lust for knowledge. Equally, in the wrong hands, it could inspire hatred, mistrust and intentional ignorance. But if our intentions are noble, I’d like to think it’s the former.

    Oh, and to make children cleverer. I heard that on the Reactionary Punk Dictators’ stage at the festival, I believe.

  2. I realised I was going to comment on this a while ago but never did, so, er, here I am. Rocked up a month or so late with coffee.

    From the perspective of a student, education is about learning. Well, obviously. But learning more than just plain facts (thanks Maths). Learning about opinions, learning about how things are connected, learning about other people, and learning about yourself (insert cheesy inspirational metaphor). Being at middle school taught me more about the value of friendship than it did actual subjects, but then again, it is middle school. Sam Whit has taught me that you’re allowed to have passions, and that some passions can’t be contained. I’ve learnt that if something is a problem, then you’re allowed to deal with it. And I’ve also learnt that some things aren’t as hard as they seem, and that you have to do things and want to do those things to succeed. Coming back from a uni residential, I learnt that making friends at my age is still easy, and that I can pursue what I want to do, regardless of what people might say about it.

    From the perspective of someone who’s realised that teaching is her future (how years of teaching my sisters didn’t have me realise that, I will never know. It was a hardcore schooling environment as well), education is about passing on knowledge, but also passing on interests and passions. Before I came to Sam Whit, I’d never had a chance to explore poetry, but now I know that that is where my real interest is. I’d never heard about my favourite genres and authors (dammit Auster), and I was educated by passion. I wasn’t weirdly obsessed with Yeats, but education had a hand in that (and it’s not just me, I know someone else so you can all stop thinking it’s weird to love Yeats that much).

    So, I guess what I’m trying to say, in a long-winded fashion, is that: yes, the purpose of education is to pass over knowledge. But education is also there to pass over passions, and to allow those of us that have enough to burst with it to share our feelings. It’s like an art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s