What is the purpose of education?
I would say my main thought on the purpose of education is that it should inspire the new, allow us to cherish the old, to help develop the understanding of the difference and the ability to make choices about the appropriateness of both. This will start from the choices your parents make for you as a child, helping you to make your own choices as you grow, but the key is understanding how to make choices, choices that affect you, people around you, how they affect society and the world at large.
Part of this is also learning to accept that some choices are not the end of the world. It used to be that you chose your trade (or it was chosen for you) and that was it … if you tried to resist or rebel, that was it … you were outcast. There was the goal of a job for life, a trade, a profession …
I was lucky enough to be on a bursary at my secondary school (what was a lovely independent school in Wirral) which would happily meet all the present criteria for a DoE sanctioned school. The structure and discipline did me very well but whilst being intelligent I was rarely engaged enough to put the effort in. This led me to loose focus on what I wanted on a number of occasions, resulting in poor decisions being made, not getting all the qualifications I should have or having the focus needed to complete university.
I did learn one very important skill, partly from family life and partly from school. Adaptability.
With the growing numbers of future jobs outside of the traditional realms of ‘jobs for life’, we already know that students will have had a number of different jobs by the time they at 35. As a sports coach, labourer, soldier, policeman, technician, network manager, school leader, LA advisor, project manager … I can’t shout it out loud enough … Adaptability is the key for both now & the future.
People who change jobs, trades or vocations are no longer just indecisive, but part of the flexible society, ready to change to meet their needs and to fill gaps.
This is what we need to continue to breed into education. The ability to choose and constructively make those choices, the ability to adapt and to learn how to focus on changing goals.