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?

How Can We Be Safe?

Safety is at the heart of a number of today’s most pressing issues. We all want to feel safe, but what does that really mean? Is it even possible to be safe from everything?

There are several different threats facing us, and fear of those threats drive our behavior, from how we speak, to who we vote for, to how we want our taxes allocated.

Some people feel they are not safe on an individual, personal level. For example, someone might be afraid of crime, so they advocate for a larger, more powerful police force to protect them. Alternately, others may fear the police, so they urge law enforcement reform.

Some people fear getting sick, or transmitting the virus to others, so they stay at home, or wear a mask when they go out in order to be safe.

Some threats are more nebulous. Climate change threatens our entire species, but that danger isn’t concrete. How can we safeguard the world from this danger?

Safety is harder to pin down as the threats get more abstract. How to we stay safe from losing our way of life, whether it be from other countries, degrading social or political norms, or zealots or terrorists? Or our own tyrannical government?

What is the best way to ensure that we are all secure and able to prosper? Is it through force, like a powerful military or law enforcement? Is it through a social safety net to protect the weakest or most disadvantaged? A strong set of laws, with a punitive penal system? An armed populace? Collective action, including protests?

How can we be safe?

Related questions:  How do you know who to trust? Where does authority come from? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? What direct experience do you have with law enforcement?