Posted on 07-02-2008
Filed Under (Miscellaneous, teaching) by gashed

What is the purpose of education?  In Ireland, as elsewhere, often discussed is the methods or techniques of schooling, how best to engineer learning in the classroom.  Less reflected on is the function of the education system, why do we persist with compulsory schooling Ireland, to what end does it serve.  What is the philosophy that determines the subjects and cirrula that are taught.

 In 1878, W. Nielson Hancock saw a role for compulsory education in reducing the levels of crime in the country.  Nowadays I’m not sure what the philosphy of those guiding the Irish system is.  It seems that they strongly link education with economic productivity.  Often I see them viewing the primary role of education system as serving the business interests of the country.  The funding for various initiatives and subjects offered at second level seems to depend on whether they are closely aligned with the economic interests of the country.  The educational system is viewed as a vocational training ground.  Much of the credit for the recent upturn in the Irish economy has been traced back to the free second level education and travel brought in by Donough O’Malley in 1968.  The link between education and economic productivity however is weak.  Ironically though the creative, entropronarial and learning skills required by those in businesses are neglected. 

Perhaps one purpose, or a goal of education, should be to educate children to be custodians of the planet and global citizens.  We should understand that memorising a body of facts in today’s connected world is not useful.  Students should understand that our fate is closely linked to all others. In this context squabbles with neighbours or racist tendencies are self-evidently defeating.

I dunno, what is the purpose of education?

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