In South Australia, the Department for Education states that education is for “the development of human intellect in all its dimensions – social, cultural, moral, emotional and physical” (DECK, 996). As an enthusiast of education with fond memories of my own schooling, I have always accepted the notion that education is essentially for the well-being of the individual. However, Hand suggests that students are given direction on what vocational occupations they should be prepared for, bidding the question who is deciding what occupation a person should or should not pursue at the conclusion of their schooling (Hand, 2010)?
In agreement with Hand, I propose that education in the modern era is for society to firmly guide students into their occupational place in heir community and society, through vocational education, with a limited consideration of the student’s goals and aims. Now that I have a somewhat clear picture of what I think education is for, I will now discuss what I think it should be for. The most common theme in trying to determine what the purpose of education should be, is that there is no clear consensus on the matter.
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After all, the answer to what education should be for is dependent on the agendas associated with various stakeholders such as parents, teachers, politicians or philosophers. A politician might suggest that education is for enriching society and advancing technology and sustainability, whereas a parent might say that education is for fostering a child’s social, emotional and academic development. Others argue that education is for vocational purposes or simply Just to attain knowledge.
In this essay I argue that education, with reference to compulsory formal education, should have three main purposes, distributed evenly: general and relevant knowledge through liberal education, vocational preparation, and personal and social growth and well-being. The main theme behind my argument is to combine these purposes to equip young people with the tools to deconstruct knowledge and use it as a vehicle to prepare them for plausible life experiences which they can navigate successfully by making rational and thoughtful decisions.
Marbles discusses Hirer’s notion of liberal education and the proposition made by Hirsh and Pewter’s that “educations principle concern should be the development of mind for its own sake (Marbles, 2010, p. 37). As suggested by Marble’s, Hirsh and Pewter’s ideas seem narrow and do not suffice as an explanation of what education is primarily for (Marbles, 2010) In her paper Ideal of n Educated Person, Martin strongly opposes Hirer’s notion of liberal education, claiming that it is gender-biased and an alienation of females from education. Martin, 1982). Although the paper is dated and steered in a feminist direction, it did instigate my own thought about how liberal education could be adapted. Martin questions Hirer’s liberal education in that it does not provide the skills for other areas such as cooking. Holland argues that “liberal education is a narrow concept but that those trying to make education more relevant shouldn’t abandon the best of liberal tradition” (Holland, 2011, p. 107).
Therefore, I believe that in order to achieve what I believe education is for, liberal education should be adapted to provide knowledge not only for intellectual intelligence but for relevant knowledge. For example, using mathematics as a platform for educating students about taxes, loans and credit cards or using geography to educate on cuisine and cookery. Hand discusses Paring’s ideal of the liberal,” agreeing that his questioning of vocational education is necessary (Hand, 2010, p. 41).
Bring elaborates by suggesting that liberal education can be adapted to be both educationally liberating and vocationally useful. Bring, 2004) I believe that vocational education should be adapted into a prevarication education and then accented by relevant liberal education. For example, rather than guiding students to a particular vocational pathway, use relevant liberal education to inform students of the many and varied occupations available to them in order for them to choose what they would like to do with their futures themselves.
In turn students will not feel that their education and vocational pathway has been chosen for them, which will result in them learning the ability to act independently and autonomously. Marbles discusses desire-satisfaction and informed desires and contends that education is a for a person to become and live autonomously, where ones beliefs and actions are self-determined. ” (Marbles, 2010, p. 45) To achieve this a person should have knowledge, gained through relevant liberal education, vocational education and development of personal attributes, values and beliefs.
And this will bring a satisfaction that the person is making their own choices, choosing their own path and deciding their own pleasures in life. As suggested by Bring education should also be concerned with the “development of the distinctively unman qualities. ” (Bring, 2004, p. 59) Hand asks “why should academic disciplines take precedence over other worthwhile activities when it comes to the selection of curriculum content, such as Justice, love or pleasure? ” (Hand, 2010, p. 4) I argue that this statement is a little short-sighted as there are clearly no subject’s labeled Justice or love in the curriculum because they should be bi-products of a balanced liberal and pre-vocational education. For example a student may learn about Justice through history or love through literature and learn about pleasure through Job satisfaction. Rather than include ideals such as love and pleasure into the curriculum, include tools and mechanisms to develop a student’s ability to be thoughtful, rational and critical and then allow them to draw their own conclusions.
The three main areas I have discussed as the purpose of education are relevant liberal education, pre-vocational preparation and social and personal improvement. In all aspects of this form of education teachers are required to act as both moral agents and value educators (Forester, 2012). Teaching is an occupation where ethical issues are important considerations for the institutions and teachers to consider. The three main ethical considerations I will discuss is what is taught, how it is taught and the relationships between students and teacher.
With the adapted liberal education I have discussed, the main ethical concern is to determine what is relevant and worthwhile to be taught. Although I propose that it is up to the Australian Curriculum to choose ethically relevant material to be taught in school, it is still a teacher’s responsibility to interpret the curriculum with objectivity and impartiality when creating lesson plans and choosing subject material. A main concern is when searchers are expected to teach course content outside of their expertise as it can result in him/her relying on personal knowledge or experiences.
In relevant liberal and pre-occupation education, it is the teacher’s responsibility to make use of all possible resources to inform himself/herself to avoid personal opinion or incorrect information being conveyed to students. Another concern is a teacher’s ability to use objective and fair assessments, particularly in formative and summation assessment tasks. An ethical teacher remains fair and non-discriminative in the design of course assessments, assignment of grades and feedback to students.
Secondly, the manner in which something is taught is of great importance to how a student receives, acts upon and reflects on the information. Carr discusses the distinction between teaching, instructing and facilitating (Carr, 2005). It is important for a teacher to recognizes these distinctions in order to adapt their teaching style to the subject matter of the lesson and to the individual students. When considering pre- vocational education, to act ethically, a teacher should facilitate learning by encouraging students to explore their options, without pushing them in any reticular directions.
Finally, I have discussed the idea that education should also be for social and personal improvement. As discussed by Forester (2012) many ethical tensions and dilemmas centre on relational issues to do with limits to student- teacher intimacy, balancing concern for individual with group needs and school policy on case based or autonomous Judgment. An ethical teacher should remain professionally appropriate and sensitive when engaging in behaviors and conversation with students. To conclude, education is a vast and never-ending concept which provokes a angel of views, opinions and debates.
In this essay I argued that education should be a tool for the purposes of offering young people relevant general knowledge, pre- vocational education and social and personal improvement. With this type of multi- purpose education young people will have the opportunity to use the knowledge they learn to choose their own pathway in life and employment and make rational and thoughtful decisions. However, as discussed, in order for this type of education to be successful in its aims, the facilitators and teachers of these people need to act with a Lear concept and respect for their ethical responsibilities.