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?