Since humanity evolved into a civilized race, the pursuit of education and its scope has been questioned and pondered at. In the early days, it was addressed by the great philosophers and sages of the ancient world. Poets, philanthropists, theologises, reformers, preachers, and visionaries of the medieval, renaissance and baroque ages redefined and moulded much of the modern society’s basic understanding and perception of what is the true purpose of education.
Later still, through the industrial age and into our modern age, with the advent of psychology, we have gained a greater depth of insight into this and scholars, educationists and psychologists alike have debated and rescaled all the wisdom of our past and put it into perspective through their newfound knowledge and insight into the human conscience and mind, to perhaps make this eternal question more complex and challenging to answer than ever.
But whatever the arguments and counter-arguments are for literary circles, there have always been some common grounds where all of humanity and its contributors to this eternal quest have always agreed. These are, what today from the very foundation of the answer we have given ourselves to the true purpose of education that governs how today’s societies and cultures across the globe, accept the structure of education that we draw out, to be imbibed into the young minds of our times.
It is essential to note, that to draw ourselves a list of goals that education should eventually succeed in imparting, to our little ones; the sole underlying answer to the question must be thoroughly studied first. Whether in ancient classical philosophy, or in 20th century Neo-Freudian psychology, the basic answer to what is the true purpose of education; is roughly the realization of what is it to be a human being, or in other words, the answer is in fact a question in rhetoric, that involves introspective cognition of what is the aim of humanity.
Asking oneself what is the purpose of being a human being in society. Now of course this is a question too complex and insurmountable for a child to asking oneself, so scholars and literary pundits across the globe answer the question themselves and come up with a list of things that may eventually lead a child on, to actually address this question on their own, in their own minds, by the end of their academic life. Let us consider what these goals are, that eventually become the answer to our question, the purpose of education:
1. Coming to terms with society, culture, morality and ethics
To understand life and how life has progressed through time, children need to understand the meaning of society, culture, morality and ethics. Many people argue that this sort of learning is endless and goes beyond one’s academic life. That is quite true, but through a child’s academic life; they are introduced to various aspects of these things across varied frames of time in history and they gain an insight into society and culture, morality and ethics, and by the time they are done with academia they are equipped with insight and better sense of judgement to learn further about them.
2. To instill the value of progressive and critical thinking
One of the key elements of a complete education is the ability to think progressively. Education should be able to guide students to think independently and come up with constructive ideas through a progressive thought process. Critical thinking is equally essential to enrich a child’s insight into life and give them better sense of judgement in all aspects of real life and social and professional situations.
3. To develop a dynamic conscience and a sharp intellect
A dynamic conscience is one which is able to feel, relate, judge, react, and inspire a broad range of stimuli, be it social or personal. A child with a dynamic conscience is undoubtedly brighter and better at handling emotions. A sharp intellect in a child is what keeps their curiosity and spontaneity alive. It eventually becomes a part of their personality when they grow up.
4. To inculcate creativity and imaginative prowess
Creativity and imagination are two powerful tools that are useful throughout one’s professional, social and personal life. These qualities are best honed during the childhood and a child’s individual creative nature and imaginary talents can play a pivotal role in the shaping of their future. A child’s creativity broadens their personality, as does their imagination, and together they shape and mould the child’s character and adds a certain dimension to their intellect.
5. To instill respect for societies, cultures and races across the globe
One of educations most powerful gifts to children is the virtue of universal equality. Children should be taught to respect different societies, cultures and races and treat others as equals without stereotyping or being prejudiced towards a particular race or culture.
6. To contribute to society and the economy and live meaningful and virtuous lives
One of education’s biggest aims is to teach children that being a part of a certain society means contributing toward its greater good and in time contributing to a healthy and robust economy. This includes making a child realize that they must become professionally resourceful in time to become an active part of the economy and help it grow. Similarly a sense of community feeling must be embedded in their minds to make them feel and think about the society they dwell in and in time contribute to its welfare.
7. To raise children to have respect for the law, justice and human rights
Education must also make a child aware of the prevalence of a Judiciary system and the court of Law. Children must learn to acknowledge the fact that every constituent member of a society must abide by the law and in turn follow a certain path of order in their lives. They must understand and respect human rights and learn to live in society in a harmonious and agreeable way of conduct.
8. Develop empathy, love, humility and generosity
Finally, a child’s education can never be complete if they are not loving, humble, and generous; and are apathetic to others in society. It is essential to instil these virtues within a child and most experts agree that teachers, parents and the whole society at large can help a child to develop these values in life.
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Whenever either one of these goals are not met in a child’s academic life, or remain unfulfilled, that child’s education remains incomplete and there is a disruption in further education for that child after their academic life. But surely, there must be more complex ways ‘How could higher education be disrupted?’