What Is The Purpose Of Education?

There has been a lot of talk about what education is going to look like this fall. From elementary schools all the way through college classes, how to safeguard our students and teachers? To decide, we need to know the purpose of education.

Unfortunately, there is no ideal solution to the current situation.

Parents are torn, as they want their children to be safe from illness. But many also want or need to return to work, and they can’t afford to stay home with children doing remote learning.

Teachers are conflicted. In-person instruction is most effective, and is what they know and are familiar with. However, they don’t want to spread disease in their communities, and they want to keep the most at-risk school employees healthy.

Students are in a bind. They want to see their friends, and return to the life they know. And yet, many of them don’t want to carry sickness to family members, particularly older or already ailing relatives.

To make a decision, it is important to have a common understanding of what education is for. For instance, will we make well-rounded adults for the future? Rather, is it to create independent thinkers?

Do we expect education to be primarily a social setting, for learning how to interact with others? Alternately, it might be a way to provide that children are not at home, but they have someone looking out for the and keeping them out of trouble.

Another possibility is to train the next generation of work labor, to take their place on the rung of our economic ladder. Additionally, as a stepping-stone for future education, be it high school, or college, or graduate school, or night classes, etc.

It probably is some combination of all of these, and more. In short, what do you think is the primary purpose of schools? What is the purpose of education?

Related questions: How do you learn? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? How do you evaluate risk? Who was your best teacher?

What Do You Believe?

Knowing what you believe is an essential part of becoming a fully-realized person. It is also helpful in a number of different ways.

Knowing your beliefs can:
  • Make you more confident

More than anything else, perhaps, your beliefs help define who you are. The more you know your beliefs, the more you know yourself, and the more confident you will be.

  • Keep you from being fooled

If someone tries to provide you with misleading or manipulative information, knowing your own thoughts is crucial. In other words, they can help you navigate difficult waters.

  • Help you make decisions

Companies often have a “mission statement” that provides guidance when there is a decision to be made. Personal beliefs can serve the same purpose. For instance, does an action get you closer to your ultimate goal? Does a decision match your values?

  • ┬áBe a conversation starter

If you find yourself talking to a stranger and you don’t know what to say, falling back on what you believe is a good way to start. Talking about something you believe in will provide a topic to build a discussion around. Similarly, it can also be useful in determining how to respond to a conversation someone else starts.

  • Make fulfilling friendships

If you know what you think and care about, you can surround yourself with people who have beliefs that are similar, or complementary, to your own. Those friendships are likely to resonate more significantly.

  • Help you choose a meaningful career

Similar to finding friendship, the key to a fulfilling career can be an alignment of your own beliefs with a company culture or goals.

Can you think of other ways beliefs are important?

Easier said than done

Of course, talking or thinking about your beliefs is quite different from actually knowing what they are. In attempting to discover what you believe, you may even find that you question things that you have believed for a very long time. That can be very disconcerting.

Do you know what is important to you? What you are passionate about, and what is central to who you are as a person? What do you believe?

Related questions: What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What is important? How do you know who to trust?

Is There A Benefit From Trying To Do The Impossible?

There are goals in life that range from the easy to the difficult to the impossible. Is there value in doing things in each?

For the easy tasks or goals, they certainly seem worthwhile. If you can accomplish a series of easy tasks and show incremental progress, they can add up to significant steps forward. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Similarly, difficult tasks occasionally need to be undertaken. And while they might be challenging, and might even lead to failure, when they are accomplished it can be very rewarding. In addition, attempting something that is difficult can offer us the opportunity to grow and reach our potential.

But what about the impossible? If we can never accomplish something, is there anything to be gained from the attempt? Is there a benefit from trying to do the impossible?

This also raises another question: how can we categorize a task that we are about to undertake? How can we tell if something is going to be easy or difficult? Or difficult versus impossible? Are we able to know, with any accuracy, what’s impossible and what’s not?

In addition, are there different levels of impossible? Where do we draw the line between noble and foolhardy, when it comes to the impossible? Achieving world peace seems impossible, but the attempt might be considered valuable. It is not possible, in contrast, for me to jump to the moon. Is it foolish of me to try?

Or another example: there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. The laws of thermodynamics prohibit it. Is there anything to be gained from trying to build one? Or is it a waste of time and effort that could be going to a better-chosen task?

Related questions: How do you define success? How do we know what we don’t know? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? Is understanding possible?