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The purpose of education

The purpose of education is multifaceted and can vary depending on the individual, society, and culture in which it takes place. We need to ask ourselves not only how do we want to be educating, but why are we educating in the first place? However, there are some common goals and purposes that education serves. We consider a well-rounded education to mean 'good at testing' but is that truly the case?

In order to really get a good understanding of this I want to go into the history of compulsory education specifically in the United States (because that is where I am raising my family) and glean what we can from that.

What is schooling?

Compulsory schooling has a long history in any society especially a society established for any long period of time. Ancient Rome and the Xia Dynasty had compulsory education, but these were for aristocratic society and were private institutions. Over time, these private institutions served more families in the community, and mostly covered the families that lived near them. These were much like what existed in America until the late 1800's/early 1900's when the General Education Board was founded, and schooling was adapted as a way to prepare students for factory work and what adult life working in a factory would be like.

“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply."

- Rev. Frederick T. Gates, The Country School of Tomorrow, Occasional Papers Number 1 Business Advisor to John D. Rockefeller Sr., Founder of the General Education Board 1913

Schooling is the timed, tested, and rigorous academic work done over and over again to test well and give students a chance to regurgitate information presented to them, while this does have its place it is often busywork to keep a large class focused on the same subject together at the same pace. If too many students swim upstream, the whole class is lost and the same is said for the students who fall behind. This is why the teacher needs to be a central figure of authority in their classroom- because each student will be consistently looking to the teacher for guidance on what to do next approximately every 20 seconds. The student nor the teacher really have a chance to introduce creativity and individuality to the experience of daily life due to the schedule and curriculum they must stick to.

The experience of the education is centralized around the existence of the school, any parent that had to navigate a life where they were suddenly attempting 'school at home' with their children understands what I'm talking about. This type of an introduction to the world needs to be in a school setting with bells. There is very little time to socialize, as the focus is the work and making sure there is no one out of line because again- anyone out of line can throw off and unravel the entire process. When we stop and ask ourselves WHY are we educating some responses may be that public school is what the family can afford and that's fair. Field trips, supplies, and more cost money. When we have a WHY then goals become something to envision and even attainable!

One primary purpose of education is to provide individuals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to function in society and pursue their personal and professional goals. How to we pursue these things nobly when we are taught to never make a mistake? When er dive deep into a subject in a classroom setting and really enjoy it then we are ahead of the class and a 'nerd'. When we don't go very deep because it's not something we find interesting we are 'incapable' and 'eccentric'. As Albert Einstein once said, "Education is what remains after what one has forgotten in school."

While the virtuous goal would be to include imparting knowledge of subjects such as arithmetic, science, history, language, and the arts, as well as developing important skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration- the stark truth is that the history of compulsory education in the United States simply isn't there. I'm not saying schools don't have a purpose- I'm saying the purpose of schools is largely misunderstood by most of the people working there, teaching there, and attending there. The people who are in the school are convinced that they are providing what is ultimately an education- and their efforts to do what is best for the child and the state do not fall short. However, it would seem that the very system they are set up in and teaching in is hostile towards the endeavor of ultimately educating a free-thinking child- and especially hostile towards any endeavor of catering education towards an individual child and how they are growing.

With this, we know that schooling is a way to only bring a small awareness to a particular subject and set of rules, to conform to and know what to expect as a factory working or employee as an adult. The working world is no joke- and getting used to doing things you don't like doing so other people can have their needs met too is a good structure. Must we sacrifice an education for schooling though? Is it possible to impart both onto a youth?

What is Education?

The purpose of education is like the purpose of cleanliness or morality. It is a multifaceted part of our different societies and each culture will have different values based on what is important to them. However some common themes in the purpose of education are to help individuals understand and appreciate different cultures, histories, and perspectives. This helps to promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation for diversity, and can lead to a more cohesive and harmonious society.

The society can extend all around the world and it is changed and veered by us. History is a series of events that were started by PEOPLE rather than random events just happening. History is people acting in a way where they know and believe in their influence, their decisions, and what power they hold in the future based on the actions they put in motion today. That is why there was so much donated by the Rockefellers to education in America in the first place. They could change the course of history, these are everyday people who did this.

Education can also serve as a means of personal growth and development. By learning new things, individuals can expand their horizons, challenge themselves, and discover their passions and interests. This can lead to a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.

In addition to these more individualized purposes, education also serves a societal purpose by preparing the next generation of leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers. As such, it is an important investment in the future of any community or nation.

Overall, the purpose of education is to help individuals lead fulfilling, productive, and meaningful lives, and to contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. To be brave is to listen to the voice within and to cultivate the virtues that are attained within a life where an adult knows how to grow, think, and behave in a way that moves each person they love forward and toward a higher place.

Education is a willingness to accept the process, to know that failure is a part of that process and there will be a finished result that you are proud of if only you stick through the process. Education is presumed to be a lifelong adventure rather than restricted to some set of years of life, depending on the income bracket you happen to be born under. Education is also being open to being taught by anyone of any age. That a 12 year old can know more about making a wooden spoon than you isn't too far off for the 12 year old hobbyist and the 40 year old beginner.

In the realm of true and authentic education, we are all given the opportunity to teach especially about subjects we are passionate about. If you lecture on something or teach, there has to be research you are referencing within memory. Teaching enhances understanding of a subject just as much as being a student of that subject. Education provides us with the opportunity to get comfortable with failure and in conversations with those who may not agree with us, and how to navigate those conversations. Education empowers us to find out things we enjoy about a subject but to challenge not our peers but OURSELVES.

There's some differences and some similarities...right?

It is clear that we have a misunderstanding that schooling somehow equals education and nothing could be further from the truth. The misunderstanding between the two is what has caused all of this trouble and the more we wake up to this the better future we can give to our kids. The more we can understand that we are ultimately deeply involved in our child's future no matter how engaged in that process we choose to be. We cannot pay someone enough to love our child in the way a parent loves their child. Similarly, we cannot trust anyone can be capable of understanding the innermost needs of our children unless it is us, the parents, who spend the most time with them and who can pay attention to them sharing those things of their inner world with the community that is currently aiding us in rearing our children.

Take some time to ask yourself if your child is really enjoying math or do they just like seeing you proud of them for finishing their worksheet? Does your child REALLY like memorizing historical dates or is there a particular figure in history that actually drives them to do their schoolwork? Your child is an excellent guide into their needs and will provide insight as to how they are feeling because you will be shown when you pick them up and drop them off from school how they are feeling about the schooling they endure and work hard at each day. Regardless of if you homeschool or send them to school, please do not delegitimize their schoolwork as play- it is not. It is learning how to navigate hard things they do not want to do, and this like patience or empathy is a skill they must learn.

Education is something that happens in and out of the day with a general rhythm, rather than something you can 'make' happen in certain time slots. Learning, real learning, that attaches to memory is something that can't be predicted but it can be set up and prepared for. It's honestly like falling in love, you can't determine when it will come but you can prepare yourself to be brave enough to move forward and forge a path with it. One way is to provide the brain with ample time to rest and complete cycles of rest in order to assimilate information and bring together the media (books, music, movies, and more) that you have exposed yourself to, especially if all the media matches a certain subject.

That is when we can open ourselves up to other avenues and perspectives. Many people believe that homeschooling is school at home. Nothing could be further from the truth. I will write on the differences of homeschooling versus school at home in the future, for now I leave you with this poem and spoken word, which a great job of summarizing what I am trying to say in this article.

I'm sure there's much I missed on this topic, as it can be spoken on for days and often is in conferences. Let me know what you think in the comments!! Yours in true liberation and expansion of the full spectrum human experience,


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