The purpose of education has been a subject of discussion from very early ages, starting with Aristotle and his philosophical perspective and up to this day. Since then many other philosophers and scientists have formed their view on the issue, underlining various aspects of the educational process. This question is quite complex as education exists as long as humanity and has always been an answer to the needs of society, however, the society has changed a lot and the needs are different accordingly.
This question is also highly debatable as different teachers, tutors and schooling systems will name various aspects of this process as the main ones. Education has always been a complex process that needs to take a lot of factors into consideration; it should be flexible to be efficient. That’s why there are various educational systems and ideas about how it should be performed. Studying process deals not only with society’s expectation but also with individual factors and human interactions. It shouldn’t only satisfy society’s needs but also prepare an individual a future life and work.
One of the common understandings is that education prepares an individual for future work and signals the employer about their skills and abilities. However, it has truth behind it, as there are jobs that cannot be performed without proper education, such as Healthcare or Law; it is not the only case. Of course, in schools and colleges, students learn necessary skills that contribute to their future employment. On the other hand, the 21st century has given people a lot of possibilities to be successful without getting a college degree. That’s why the purpose of education cannot be simply reduced to the purpose of being prepared for work; it also deals with more complex issues.
The main aspect of education has always been to share knowledge with a new generation. It is a common way to accumulate information gathered by the previous generation and to give it to a new one so that they can work on further development and not struggle with already resolved issues. This purpose remains relevant today as well, however, now there are other possibilities when it comes to knowledge sharing.
As society changes, the issues that education is called to solve, change too. For example, American philosopher John Dewey underlined the necessity to prepare student pragmatically to the environment they are living in. The point isn’t to learn facts and ideas but to be able to use them in everyday life. The pragmatic perspective on education is quite popular as it solves many issues, such as the relevance of shared knowledge. It is important not only to give knowledge but also to show how it can be applied in real life circumstances. On the contrary, philosopher George Counts claimed that it is more important to prepare an individual to function as a member of society. It is crucial to teach students to be a part of society, understand the mechanism behind political and social life to contribute to them or change them afterward. Generally, lots of scientists, including Mortimore Adler have come to three main aspects of the educational process, such as citizens’ development, personal self-improvement, and occupational preparation.
It is also essential to understand how education contributes to society in a wider perspective. Learning to read can open you a whole word of books and your child could begin understand deep symbolism in the words — like symbolism in Lord of the Flies. Not only it has a direct influence, such as the formation of a civil society of individuals ready for work and social life, but it also prepares people to adjust to changes, which is extremely important in the 21st century. Today life has changed rapidly in terms of technology pretty fast in recent 50 years, and nowadays each new generation lives in a completely new world. For instance, the Internet has clearly changed the ways of communication and information gathering. It wasn’t possible 50 years ago to be online and know what is going on in the other part of the world. The internet has greatly contributed to the globalization and growing feeling of responsibility to the world we are living in. That’s why it is crucial to be ready to operate in new circumstances and to adjust to the new technologies and ways of communication.
In this regard, it is important to remember the works of Theodore Shultz that researched the evolution of family farms in the United States. In his work, he shows that families that have put efforts in children’s education were more successful when the new technologies of farming appeared. The important aspect is that education didn’t have to do exactly with farming. Any education led to an individual being more open to changes and development of adjusting skills. Shultz has shown that education has other crucial purposes – development of an individual to be ready to operate in the changing environment.
Mainly, there are three aspects of personal development that educational process deals with:
- Civic development;
- Emotional development;
- Cognitive development.
These three aspects mean that an individual should be a knowledgeable citizen of society they live in and be ready to participate in the civic operations. However, it is also important to develop an individual as a fully aware and emotionally stable person that has a proper level of emotional intellect. Cognitive development stands for training individual ability to search for information, analyze it and come up with new conclusions. No educational institution can teach a student all the fact and necessary information as it is impossible to predict what kinds of skills they will need in new circumstances. It is crucial to train the individual ability to self-education. The world is changing every day, and the point is to think critically, analyze information and learn new things on your own.
Modern education views its purposes as awn’ combination of society’s request and individual needs of students. It is more about learning skills and preparing to use them in everyday life than getting theoretical knowledge. The purpose can be viewed as the development of a strong and knowledgeable individual with critical thinking that lives in a society and is ready to perform their civil duties and freedoms.