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The purpose of education Essay

Abstract THIS PAPER WAS WRITTEN TO OPEN UP DEBATE AND ENGAGE THE QUEENSLAND COMMUNITY IN A CONVERSATION OF FUNDAMENTAL SIGNIFICANCE TO QUEENSLAND’S FUTURE. INCLUDED IN THE CONSULTATION PROCESS WERE PARENT AND TEACHER ORGANISATIONS; BUSINESS, UNION AND COMMUNITY LEADERS;

ACADEMICS WORKING IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION; EDUCATION OFFICIALS AND PEOPLE WITHIN THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT WITH AN INTEREST IN OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR EDUCATIONAL MATTERS. Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 2 The Purposes of Education A research project commissioned by Education Queensland as a contribution to the development of Queensland State Education: 2010 Consultation Paper Prepared to assist consultations with the Queensland community Kaye Schofield May 1999 Setting out, clearly articulating or changing the aims of education are three of the most fundamental changes that could be made to any education system. There is, therefore, a great temptation on the part of politicians and indeed of society as a whole to avoid or to put off such a discussion. Christopher Winch, Quality and Education, 1996 Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 3 Background to this project EDUCATION QUEENSLAND HAS COMMENCED A PROJECT – QUEENSLAND STATE EDUCATION: 2010 – TO EXPLORE AND GENERATE IDEAS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF SCHOOLING IN QUEENSLAND. AS PART OF THIS PROCESS, EDUCATION QUEENSLAND HAS COMMISSIONED KAYE SCHOFIELD TO PREPARE A RESEARCH PAPER ON THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION. THE RESEARCH PAPER IS INTENDED TO STIMULATE THINKING WITHIN THE QUEENSLAND COMMUNITY AND TO INFORM POLICY AND STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT IN EDUCATION QUEENSLAND.

THE FIRST STAGE IN THIS RESEARCH PROJECT INVOLVES CONSULTATION WITH A WIDE RANGE OF INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANISATIONS WITH AN INTEREST IN THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IN QUEENSLAND. THOSE TO BE CONSULTED INCLUDE PARENT AND TEACHER ORGANISATIONS; BUSINESS, UNION AND COMMUNITY LEADERS; ACADEMICS WORKING IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION; EDUCATION OFFICIALS AND PEOPLE WITHIN THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT WITH AN INTEREST IN OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR EDUCATIONAL MATTERS.

THIS PAPER IS MEANT TO ASSIST THE CONSULTATION PROCESS. THEREFORE IT DOES NOT ARGUE FOR ANY PARTICULAR SET OF PURPOSES OF EDUCATION. RATHER, IT IS WRITTEN TO OPEN UP DEBATE AND ENGAGE THE QUEENSLAND COMMUNITY IN A CONVERSATION OF FUNDAMENTAL SIGNIFICANCE TO QUEENSLAND’S FUTURE. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED THROUGH THE CONSULTATION PROCESS WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RESEARCH PAPER ON THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION WHICH WILL, IN TURN, CONTRIBUTE TO THE WIDER STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESSES FOR EDUCATION QUEENSLAND.

ALL THOSE WITH AN INTEREST IN THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION IN QUEENSLAND ARE INVITED TO COMMENT ON THE ISSUES PAPER, OR ON ANY PARTICULAR ASPECT OF IT.

SO THAT YOUR COMMENTS CAN BE CONSIDERED IN THE preparation of the Research Paper, they will need to be received by no later than 30 June 1999. YOUR COMMENTS MAY BE SENT TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS. ALL WILL BE TREATED IN CONFIDENCE. KIM BANNIKOFF PROJECT MANAGER EDUCATION QUEENSLAND LEVEL 21 EDUCATION HOUSE 30 MARY ST BRISBANE QLD 4000 PO BOX 33 BRISBANE ALBERT ST QLD 4002 PHONE (07) 3237 1327 FAX (07) 3237 0820 EMAIL.

[email protected] COM. AU Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 4 The Consultation Questions THIS CONSULTATION PAPER IS BASED ON THE IDEA THAT THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO THINK ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION OVER THE NEXT DECADE IN QUEENSLAND. ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION OF EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES LIE INSIDE A GALAXY FORMED BY THE DIFFERENT VIEWS OF DIFFERENT GROUPS WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY EACH OF WHOM THINKS ABOUT PURPOSES IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

ONLY BY CONSIDERING THEQUESTION FROM MANY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, AND BY THINKING DIFFERENTLY, WILL WE BE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE A USEFUL STATEMENT OF PURPOSES OF EDUCATION TO GUIDE FUTURE ACTION. THE CONSULTATIONS WILL LOOK FOR ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING FIVE CORE QUESTIONS. THIS CONSULTATION PAPER IS PRESENTED IN TWO PARTS.

PART A PROVIDES AN OVERVIEW OF SOME OF THE ISSUES RELATED TO THE QUESTION OF EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. PART B PROVIDES AN OVERVIEW OF FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS OF APPROACHING THE QUESTION OF PURPOSES AS A WAY OF ENCOURAGING COMMUNITY DEBATE. THE CONSULTATION QUESTIONS 1. How would you describe the current (although unstated) purposes of education in Queensland?

2. What educational purposes seem to be given greatest emphasis in Queensland at present? To what extent do you agree with this emphasis? 3. Are there matters raised in Part A: An Overview of the Issues that you would like to challenge or reinforce? Are there other important issues that you think should also be considered? 4. In Part B, this paper puts forward four different ways of thinking about the purposes of education. a. The UNESCO Approach b. A Values Approach c. The National Goals for Schooling Approach d.

A Future Scenarios Approach Do you find any of these four approaches helpful in thinking about the purposes of education in Queensland for the next decade? In your view, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach? Are there other ways of approaching the question of educational purposes? 5. What do you think are the three most essential elements of any statement of purposes for education in Queensland for the next decade? Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 5 THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GOOD REASONS WHY QUEENSLANDERS MAY FEEL A LITTLE PUZZLED BY AN INVITATION TO THINK ABOUT AND DISCUSS THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION FOR THE NEXT DECADE. IN THE FACE OF THE COMPLEX SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES OUTLINED IN THE EDUCATION QUEENSLAND DISCUSSION PAPER THE NEXT DECADE, A DISCUSSION ABOUT EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES MAY SEEM TO SOME TO BE MARGINAL OR EVEN BORDERING ON THE EXOTIC.

IT IS TRUE THAT THERE ARE MANY PRESSING PRACTICAL ISSUES ARISING FROM THESE CHANGES, AND TURNING OUR ATTENTION FROM THE IMMEDIATE ISSUES TO WHAT SEEMS LIKE A MORE THEORETICAL ONE IS NOT EASY. BUT IT IS A CHALLENGE WE MUST CONFRONT SOONER OR LATER. There is a need to articulate purposes ARRIVING AT A COMMUNITY SETTLEMENT ON PURPOSES IS A VERY PRACTICAL CHALLENGE.

INTELLIGENT ACTION IS ACTION GUIDED BY AN AIM.

WITHOUT A CLEAR STATEMENT OF PURPOSES, TALK OF ACCOUNTABILITY IN EDUCATION IS MEANINGLESS. WITHOUT CLARITY ON WHAT EDUCATION IS FOR, WHAT ITS PURPOSES ARE, OUR CHOICES ABOUT EDUCATION WILL BE RANDOM AND OFTEN CONTRADICTORY. WITHOUT AIMS, THERE IS NO AUTHENTIC WAY OF UNIFYING PRACTICAL CHOICES ABOUT CURRICULUM, TEACHING AND LEARNING, ASSESSMENT, ORGANISATIONAL GOALS AND OTHER IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES. UNLESS WE ATTEMPT TO MAKE OUR AIMS EXPLICIT, THEY WILL GET SETTLED BY DEFAULT BECAUSE PURPOSES EXIST, EVEN WHERE THEY ARE NOT STATED.

The whole community must be part of the process TRYING TO IDENTIFY THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION MAY SEEM LIKE A HIGHLY SPECIALISED TASK, ONE PERHAPS BEST LEFT TO EDUCATIONAL EXPERTS AND PHILOSOPHERS. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THERE ARE EXPERTS WITHIN OUR OWN COMMUNITY AND BEYOND IT WHO HAVE BEEN CONSIDERING THIS QUESTION FOR A LONG TIME. INDEED, THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION DEBATE CAN BE TRACED BACK MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND YEARS TO PLATO AND ARISTOTLE WITHIN OUR WESTERN TRADITION AND TO CONFUCIUS IN MANY ASIAN TRADITIONS. SUCH EXPERTS HAVE MUCH TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEBATE AND, AS A CONSEQUENCE, THEIR VIEWS MUST BE HEARD.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE MANY INTERESTS AFFECTED BY THE CHOICES MADE ON PURPOSES OF EDUCATION – THOSE BEING EDUCATED, THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THOSE BEING EDUCATED SUCH AS PARENTS, THOSE WHO PROVIDE EDUCATION, INDUSTRIES AND ENTERPRISES, STATE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, THE GOVERNMENT AND TAXPAYERS MORE BROADLY.

IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY, ALL THESE INTERESTS NEED TO BE ACCOMMODATED IN A NEGOTIATED COMMUNITY SETTLEMENT ON THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION. THIS COMMUNITY SETTLEMENT CAN ONLY BE ARRIVED AT THROUGH DIALOGUE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY AND BETWEEN THE COMMUNITY AND GOVERNMENT. The consequences of failure CHRISTOPHER WINCH REMINDS US OF THE CONSEQUENCE OF NOT HAVING SUCH A SETTLEMENT.

A SOCIETY THAT FAILS TO ARTICULATE OR EVEN TO GET CLEAR ABOUT THE AIMS OF ITS EDUCATION SYSTEM WILL MOST LIKELY ENJOY A SECOND-RATE ONE, BECAUSE SOME OF THE MOST SUBSTANTIAL INTERESTS IN SOCIETY WILL NOT HAVE A CHANCE TO ARTICULATE WHAT THEY Part A Overview of the Issues Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 6 WANT FROM EDUCATION, THUS LOSING THE CHANCE THAT THEIR INTERESTS WILL BE REPRESENTED, LEADING TO A DANGER OF DISILLUSION AND CONTEMPT FOR THE INSTITUTION OF EDUCATION ITSELF.

THE FORMULATION OF AIMS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEMS IS, THEREFORE, A VITAL TASK FOR ANY DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY WHICH AIMS TO HAVE AN EFFECTIVE EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT COMMANDS THE CONFIDENCE OF ALL SECTIONS OF THE population. 1 Articulating the purposes of education is a challenge THE IDEAL OF DEMOCRACY WAS EMBRACED TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT SINCE 1945, OFFICIAL STATEMENTS ON THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION (IN JAPAN)

HAVE OFTEN BEEN RESISTED IN THE BELIEF THAT THEY MAY BE TAKING THE COUNTRY BACK TO GRAND STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLE ISSUED BY THE EMPEROR PRIOR TO 1945. DESPITE ITS INDIVIDUALISTIC CONTENT, THE VERY ACT OF DRAFTING A NEW RESCRIPT ON EDUCATION WITH FRESH PURPOSES AROUSED SUCH OPPOSITION IN THE EARLY 1950S THAT THE EXERCISE HAS NOT BEEN repeated.

2 LIKE SO MANY OTHER QUESTIONS WE FACE ABOUT EDUCATION, THE QUESTION “WHAT SHOULD THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION BE IN QUEENSLAND GOING INTO THE NEXT CENTURY” IS AN INTRINSICALLY DIFFICULT ONE, REQUIRING FOCUS, ENERGY AND RIGOUR.

THERE ARE NO INSTANT-COFFEE ANSWERS. THERE ARE ALSO OTHER FACTORS WHICH MAKE IT HARD TO HAVE A SENSIBLE DISCUSSION OF THE QUESTION. THE FIRST FACTOR COULD BE CALLED THE TYRANNY OF LABELS WITHIN THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY AND IN THE

COMMUNITY MORE WIDELY. TOO OFTEN, PRODUCTIVE OPEN DEBATE ABOUT PURPOSES, (AND ABOUT MANY OTHER EDUCATIONAL MATTERS), IS STIFLED BY THE APPLICATION OF LABELS SUCH AS RIGHT, LEFT, NEW RIGHT, SOCIALIST, CONSERVATIVE, PROGRESSIVE, LIBERAL, NEO-LIBERAL, POST-MODERNIST, COMMUNITARIAN AND THE LIKE. ROBERT HUGHES HAS ASTUTELY OBSERVED THAT …

POLARISATION IS ADDICTIVE. IT IS THE CRACK OF POLITICS – A SHORT INTENSE RUSH THAT THE SYSTEM CRAVES OVER AND OVER AGAIN, UNTIL IT BEGINS TO COLLAPSE. 3 QUICKNESS TO LABEL IDEAS OR PROPOSALS AND THEN DISMISS OR EMBRACE THEM BASED ON THEIR LABEL, REGARDLESS OF THEIR MERIT, IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO RATIONAL DISCUSSION BETWEEN DIFFERENT PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND INTERESTS. SUCH DISCUSSION MAY NOT NECESSARILY LEAD TO CONSENSUS, BUT IT DOES LEAVE OPEN THE POSSIBILITY OF FINDING COMMONALITIES, FINDING SOMEWHERE FOR OUR DIFFERING VIEWS TO CONVERGE.

A SECOND FACTOR WHICH MAKES IT HARD TO DISCUSS THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IS THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE GENERIC AIMS FOR EDUCATION AND THE AIMS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION.

THERE IS AN AFRICAN PROVERB WHICH SAYS THAT IT TAKES A WHOLE VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD. IN OUR NATION, IT TAKES A WHOLE SOCIETY TO EDUCATE A CHILD THROUGH INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS SCHOOLS AND THROUGH OTHER STRUCTURES SUCH AS FAMILY, NEIGHBOURHOOD, RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS AND COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS.

WHILE THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION MAY BE BROAD, AND ACHIEVED THROUGH DIFFERENT PROCESSES AND STRUCTURES, THE PURPOSES OF PUBLIC EDUCATION MAY NEED TO BE RESTRICTED IN SCOPE TO THOSE EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES FOR WHICH SCHOOLS AND OTHER PUBLICLY FUNDED INSTITUTIONS CAN REASONABLY HELD TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. NEVERTHELESS, THE HEALTH OF ALL SCHOOLS IS AN ISSUE FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. THE MANY UNCERTAINTIES IN OUR LIVES ALSO COMPLICATE DISCUSSION.

AS WE STRUGGLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT GLOBALISATION MEANS FOR US INDIVIDUALLY, FOR OUR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES, OUR SOCIETY AND OUR NATION;

AS WE DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF ECONOMIC REFORM, POPULATION SHIFTS AND URBAN DRIFT, UNEMPLOYMENT, INCREASED CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND SOCIAL FRAGMENTATION GENERALLY, IT SEEMS AS IF THERE IS NO CERTAINTY ANY MORE, NO STABILITY OR DIRECTION. THIS CAN LEAD US TO SEARCH FOR OR RE- AFFIRM ABSOLUTE OR UNIVERSAL TRUTH ABOUT LIFE AND ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION. MANY MAY FIND THAT CERTAINTY IN FAITH, OR SCIENCE OR TECHNOLOGY BUT MANY WILL NOT.

Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 7 TRANSITIONAL PERIODS SUCH AS THE ONE WE ARE NOW LIVING THROUGH ARE NEVER EASY. WHILE THERE ARE MANY FACTORS WHICH MAKE THE TASK OF TALKING ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION A DIFFICULT ONE, THEY ALSO PRESENT US WITH A UNIQUE AND EXHILARATING CHALLENGE. Educational purposes vary with time and place THE MOST CHERISHED PEDAGOGICAL AND POLITICAL STRATEGIES OF ONE ERA ARE OBSOLETE IN THE NEXT.

THE TASK IS TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE CHANGES WE MUST WORK WITH, AND THE CHANGES WE MUST CHANGE; CHANGES WHICH ARE INEVITABLE, AND CHANGES WE MUST RESIST AND REDIRECT TO ACHIEVE OUR GOALS.

4 LOOKING AT THE WAY PURPOSES OF EDUCATION HAVE BEEN EXPRESSED OVER TIME AND BETWEEN DIFFERENT SOCIETIES, WE CAN DRAW A NUMBER OF CONCLUSIONS. Education is always for betterment FIRST, EDUCATION IS A FUNDAMENTALLY OPTIMISTIC HUMAN ENDEAVOUR, CHARACTERISED BY ASPIRATIONS FOR PROGRESS AND BETTERMENT.

GOALS FOR EDUCATION ARE USUALLY EXTREMELY AMBITIOUS. STATEMENTS OF THE BASIC PURPOSES OF EDUCATION AROUND THE WORLD DEAL WITH SIMILAR ISSUES IN MANY RESPECTS, AND THERE ARE ENDURING THEMES. EDUCATION IS CONCEIVED AS BEING FOR SUCH THINGS AS WELL-BEING, HAPPINESS, INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL VIRTUE, INDIVIDUAL AND/OR COMMUNITY BETTERMENT, FREEDOM, THE GOOD LIFE, RIGHT ACTION, GOOD CITIZENSHIP, GROUNDING, SOCIAL COHESION, AUTHORITY, AUTONOMY, DEMOCRACY, EDUCATION, EQUALITY, INDIVIDUAL FULFILMENT, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND NATIONAL UNITY.

Educational purposes vary over time SECOND, WE CAN CONCLUDE THAT THE WAY WE THINK AND TALK ABOUT THESE PURPOSES CHANGES OVER TIME, DEPENDING ON THE PREVAILING POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THE VIEWS OF MR GRADGRIND IN HARD TIMES BY CHARLES DICKINS WOULD PROBABLY GAIN LITTLE SUPPORT TODAY. NOW WHAT I WANT IS FACTS.

TEACH THESE BOYS AND GIRLS NOTHING BUT FACTS. FACTS ALONE ARE WANTED IN LIFE. PLANT NOTHING ELSE, AND ROOT OUT EVERYTHING ELSE. YOU CAN ONLY FORM THE MINDS OF REASONING ANIMALS UPON FACTS.

NOTHING ELSE WILL EVER BE OF SERVICE TO THEM. 5 THIRD, THE RELATIVE WEIGHT WHICH WE GIVE TO DIFFERENT PURPOSES SHIFTS OVER TIME. AS A VERY BROAD GENERALISATION WITH MANY EXCEPTIONS, SOCIETIES WHICH FACE UNCERTAINTY AND INSTABILITY MOVE TOWARDS EDUCATION FOR SOCIAL COHESION OR NATION BUILDING. IN CALMER AND MORE SECURE PERIODS, GREATER EMPHASIS MAY BE PLACED ON MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND ENCOURAGING INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY.

FOR EXAMPLE, IN 1957 THE SOVIET UNION SUCCESSFULLY ORBITED THE SPACE SATELLITE SPUTNIK. THIS INDUCED A CLIMATE OF NATIONAL CRISIS IN THE US AND CRITICS POINTED TO THE DEFICIENCIES OF AMERICAN STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE AS A REASON FOR AMERICA’S FAILURE TO LEAD THE WORLD IN SPACE. IN RESPONSE, THE US GOVERNMENT INTRODUCED THE NATIONAL DEFENSE EDUCATION ACT 1958 WHICH APPROPRIATED FEDERAL FUNDS TO IMPROVE INSTRUCTION IN THOSE AREAS CONSIDERED CRUCIAL TO NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY – MATHEMATICS, FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND SCIENCE.

A SECOND EXAMPLE COMES FROM JAPAN WHICH HAS RECENTLY RECOGNISED THAT AN EDUCATION SYSTEM WHICH HAS SERVED AS A DRIVING FORCE FOR THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATION IS NOT NECESSARILY APPROPRIATE FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW. RAPID SOCIAL CHANGES … HAVE EXPOSED A VARIETY OF PROBLEMS AND DIFFICULTIES, WHICH INCLUDE A SOCIAL CLIMATE WHICH PLACES TOO MUCH VALUE ON EDUCATIONAL Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 8 BACKGROUND, EXCESSIVE COMPETITION IN ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS, PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR IN YOUNG PEOPLE AND UNIFORM, INFLEXIBLE STRUCTURES AND THE METHODS OF FORMAL EDUCATION. IN 1997 MONBUSHO [THE JAPANESE MINISTRY FOR EDUCATION] INTRODUCED AN EDUCATIONAL REFORM PROGRAM. …

TO ACHIEVE SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL REFORM, THIS PROGRAM PLACED HIGH VALUE ON THE ASPECT OF FOSTERING CHILDREN TO HAVE A SENSE OF JUSTICE, KINDNESS, CREATIVITY AND CONSCIOUSNESS AS A MEMBER OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY, PUTTING EMPHASIS ON INDIVIDUALITY, AS WELL AS CREATING HUMAN RESOURCES WHICH IS THE MAIN RESOURCE OF JAPAN.

6 Educational purposes vary from place to place FINALLY, THESE IDEAS TAKE DIFFERENT FORMS IN DIFFERENT PLACES. OUR OWN AUSTRALIAN VERSION OF THE WESTERN LIBERAL EDUCATION TRADITION IS NOT THE SAME AS OTHER LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES SUCH AS THOSE OF THE UNITED STATES, BRITAIN OR EUROPE.

NOR ARE THESE THE SAME AS NATIONS WITH OTHER FORMS OF POLITICAL ORGANISATION OR CULTURAL EXPRESSION. ONE COUNTRY’S IDEA OF PROGRESS AND BETTERMENT WILL NOT BE THE SAME AS ANOTHER’S BECAUSE THE POLITICAL, HISTORICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONTEXT IS DIFFERENT. FOR EXAMPLE, IN AUSTRALIA, THE PRIMACY OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND INDIVIDUAL GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS IS CHERISHED.

IN MANY COUNTRIES, INCLUDING ASIA FOR EXAMPLE, THE INTEREST OF THE GROUP AND THE MAINTENANCE OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS CONTINUES TO BE A CENTRAL EDUCATION FOCUS. ONE WRITER EXPLAINS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EASTERN AND WESTERN NOTIONS OF THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION THIS WAY: IN THE COLLECTIVIST CULTURES OF EAST ASIA, EDUCATION IS VIEWED FIRST AND FOREMOST AS A MEASURE OF SOCIALISATION. IT IS AN ORGANISED MEANS BY WHICH CHILDREN LEARN TO ADAPT THEMSELVES TO THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE COMMUNITY.

SCHOOL EDUCATION IS DESIGNED TO INSTILL IN CHILDREN THE NORMS AND EXPECTATIONS OF THE SOCIETY. …

CULTURES WHERE INDIVIDUALISM DOMINATES, SUCH AS IN MANY WESTERN NATIONS, TEND TO VIEW EDUCATION AS A MEANS OF EMPOWERING CHILDREN. THE GOAL IS TO ENABLE CHILDREN TO GROW AND RESPECT THEMSELVES AS INDIVIDUALS.

SCHOOLS AND PARENTS ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO DEVELOP ACCORDING TO THEIR UNIQUE NEEDS AND POTENTIALITIES. CONSEQUENTLY EDUCATION SYSTEMS TEND TO HONOUR INDIVIDUALITY OVER CONFORMITY AND INDIVIDUAL ABILITY OVER EFFORT.

7 MANY READERS OF THIS PAPER WILL BE FAMILIAR WITH THE DEBATE BETWEEN THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT EDUCATION IS FOR INDIVIDUAL, PERSONAL FULFILMENT AND THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT A FUNDAMENTAL PURPOSE OF EDUCATION IS PREPARATION FOR WORK. THERE ARE MANY PERMUTATIONS OF THIS DEBATE, TOO MANY TO EXPLORE HERE, BUT IT IS EXCEEDINGLY RELEVANT TO THE QUESTION OF EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES IN QUEENSLAND schools (and universities) in the 21st century.

IF WE WERE AMERICANS, THEN WE MIGHT SEE THE ISSUE LIKE THIS.

THE CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS HAVE VASTLY DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION SHOULD ACCOMPLISH IN OUR SOCIETY. THIS DICHOTOMY HAS BEEN SUMMARISED AS CONSERVATIVES SEEING SCHOOL AS PRIMARILY AN ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE THAT PREPARES STUDENTS FOR JOBS. ON THE OTHER HAND LIBERALS HAVE SEEN IT MORE BROADLY INCLUDING SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL AND CREATIVE EXPERIENCES THAT Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 9 PREPARE STUDENTS FOR JOBS BUT FOR BEING CITIZENS OF A MULTICULTURAL, DEMOCRATIC AND EGALITARIAN SOCIETY. 8 IF WE WERE BRITISH, WE MAY SEE THE ISSUE THIS WAY.

SINCE PEOPLE FROM …(THE EDUCATED AND LEISURED CLASSES)…CAME TO DOMINATE THE UNIVERSITIES, GOVERNMENT AND THE CIVIL SERVICE AND SINCE, IN ANY CASE, THE OUTLOOK OF THE GENTRY FOUND ITS WAY INTO OTHER PARTS OF SOCIETY, IT IS HARDLY SURPRISING THAT THE LIBERAL CONCEPTION HAS BEEN POLITICALLY DOMINANT.

THIS DOMINANCE ALSO EXPLAINS THE SURPRISING AMBIVALENCE OF THE INDUSTRIAL WORLD TO TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, AN AMBIVALENCE WHICH IS NOT SHARED BY MOST OF THE COUNTRIES OF WESTERN EUROPE. DESPITE THE ADVANTAGES OF A VOCATIONALLY WELL-EDUCATED WORKFORCE, THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS SO DEEPLY AFFECTED BY THE LIBERAL IDEAL THAT IT SOMETIMES FINDS IT DIFFICULT TO RECOGNISE THE ADVANTAGES THAT COME FROM VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.

THE LIBERAL CONCEPTION HAS, NEVERTHELESS, COME UNDER PRESSURE PARTICULARLY FROM SECTIONS OF THE POLITICAL ELITE AND THE BUSINESS WORLD WHICH HAVE BEEN CONCERNED WITH THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE LIBERAL IDEA. 9 Are differences diminishing?

BECAUSE OF TRAVEL, MEDIA, THE INTERNET AND LARGE-SCALE POPULATION MOVEMENTS AROUND THE WORLD, WHICH OPEN UP DIFFERENT POSSIBILITIES, UNIQUELY NATIONAL APPROACHES TO EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES MAY BE DISAPPEARING IN FAVOUR OF A CONVERGING WORLD EDUCATION.

REGIONAL DIFFERENCES MAY BE BREAKING DOWN IN THE FACE OF GLOBALISATION AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE INFORMATION AGE. WHILE THE NATIONALIST FOCUS OF MANY OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEMS FOUND THROUGHOUT THE (ASIAN) REGION MAY CAUSE DISCOMFORT FOR THOSE WORKING WITHIN THE LIBERAL HUMANIST AUSTRALIAN IDEAL, IT MUST BE STRESSED THAT AUSTRALIAN EDUCATIONAL RHETORIC APPEARS TO BE CONVERGING TOWARDS THIS MORE CONCERTED NATION-BUILDING EMPHASIS.

THE POSITIVE IMPLICATIONS THAT THIS MAY HAVE FOR AUSTRALIAN PARTICIPATION IN THE REGION ARE YET TO BE FULLY EXPLORED. THEY SEEM TO BE PART OF A PROCESS WHICH ENCOMPASSES SUCH OTHER AREAS AS LABOUR RELATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

AND YET IN AUSTRALIA THE GROWING STRESS ON THE NATION-STATE COMES UP HARD AGAINST AN ENDURING FEATURE OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM – THE CENTRALITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHICH IS ASSERTED EXPLICITLY AND IMPLICITLY AT ALMOST EVERY LEVEL OF DEVELOPMENT. 10 The Child IN MANY OF THE PUBLIC DEBATES ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION, THE QUESTION OF WHAT A CHILD NEEDS TO BE A COMPETENT HUMAN BEING IS OFTEN NEGLECTED. A CHILD HAS MORE THAN A UTILITARIAN VALUE FOR THE NATION, THE STATE, A COMMUNITY OR A FAMILY.

BEING A CHILD IS MORE THAN BEING A SMALL ADULT. CHILDREN EXIST INDEPENDENTLY OF WHAT ADULTS WANT TO MAKE THEM. THIS IS OF COURSE NOT A NEW IDEA, BUT ONE WHICH PERHAPS REQUIRES NEW ATTENTION IN CONSIDERING THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION. BUT THE GREAT PEDAGOGUES OF HISTORY ARE CONCERNED WITH HOW AND WHAT THEY FEEL TOWARD CHILDREN, WITH EMOTIONS SUCH AS LOVE, PITY, HOPE, DISGUST AND HORROR.

THEY DO NOT SEE THE CHILD AS IT IS BUT ONLY THE RELATIONSHIP THAT EXISTS BETWEEN IT AND THEMSELVES. EVEN IF THEY WERE ABLE TO LEAVE THEMSELVES OUT OF IT, THE QUESTION AS TO WHAT THE CHILD IS, IN AND BY ITSELF, STILL WOULD NOT INTEREST THEM BECAUSE THEIR SOLE.

CONCERN IS HOW TO TRANSFORM IT INTO SOMETHING ELSE. TO THEM, THE CHILD IS A MEANS TO SOME THEOLOGICAL, ETHICAL OR UTOPIAN END. 11 Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 10 The Current Position in Queensland CURRENTLY, QUEENSLAND HAS NO EXPLICIT STATEMENT ON THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IN THE STATE. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THERE ARE NO PURPOSES OR THAT EDUCATION IN QUEENSLAND IS NOT PURPOSEFUL.

PURPOSES EXIST IN CURRICULUM, IN TEACHING AND LEARNING PRACTICES, IN THE WAY EDUCATION IS STRUCTURED AND MANAGED AND THEY ARE IMPLEMENTED IN EACH SCHOOL THROUGHOUT THE STATE. HOWEVER, THEY HAVE NOT BEEN MADE EXPLICIT.

ON THE OTHER HAND, EDUCATION QUEENSLAND, AS THE DEPARTMENT WITH PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR EDUCATION IN THE STATE HAS A STATEMENT OF ORGANISATIONAL PURPOSE WITHIN ITS CURRENT STRATEGIC PLAN.

ACHIEVING THE BEST EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES FOR EVERY STUDENT IN OUR SCHOOLS THIS PURPOSE THEN LEADS INTO THE ORGANISATIONAL VISION (EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION), ORGANISATIONAL VALUES (COMMITMENT TO STUDENTS, QUALITY, ACCOUNTABILITY) AND SPECIFIC ORGANISATIONAL GOALS.

THIS PAPER RESTS ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT MORE IS NEEDED THAN A STATEMENT OF ORGANISATIONAL PURPOSE. A STATEMENT OF SUBSTANCE ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IS NEEDED TO CAPTURE THE ASPIRATIONS OF QUEENSLANDERS FOR THEIR OWN AND THEIR CHILDREN’S FUTURE. Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 11 IN THIS PART OF THE CONSULTATION PAPER, FOUR DIFFERENT AND CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES ARE BRIEFLY DESCRIBED. THEY ARE PRESENTED NOT SO THAT WE CAN SELECT ONE OR OTHER OF THEM TO ADAPT OR ADOPT AS THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IN QUEENSLAND. RATHER, THEY ARE PRESENTED SIMPLY AS A TOOL TO HELP US ALL THINK ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IN QUEENSLAND FOR THE NEXT DECADE. WHEN THINKING ABOUT DIFFERENT APPROACHES, WE NEED TO BE MINDFUL OF PATRICK SUPPES’ WARNING.

WHAT WE SHOULD STRIVE FOR IN SETTING AIMS FOR OUR SCHOOLS, AND IN FIXING POLICY IN GENERAL, IS CLARITY ABOUT METHODS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND TO RECOGNISE THAT WE SHALL NOT FIND CONCLUSIVE SCIENTIFIC OR PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENTS THAT WILL EVER FIX THE AIMS UNIQUELY ON ANY ISSUE OF IMPORTANCE.

12 THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT WE CANNOT REACH A SHARED UNDERSTANDING AND COMMUNITY AGREEMENT, FOR WE MUST DO SO AS A SOCIETY. RATHER, IT IS A CALL FOR US TO RECOGNISE THAT WE EACH HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS ABOUT PURPOSES AND WE MUST NEGOTIATE OUR WAY THROUGH THEM, RATHER THAN HOLDING OUT FOR SOME SCIENTIFIC PROOF, ETERNAL TRUTH OR ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.

IN THINKING ABOUT PURPOSES OF EDUCATION, WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE AS WELL AS LEARNING FROM THE PAST AND REFLECTING ON THE PRESENT. EDUCATION CAN PLAY A KEY ROLE IN SHAPING THE FUTURE, NOT SIMPLY REACTING TO THE PRESENT AND THOSE BEING EDUCATED WILL LIVE THEIR LIVES IN THE FUTURE.

IN SCI-FI MOVIES AND PAPERBACKS, THE FUTURE IS A MACABRE AND EXCITING PLACE, CROWDED WITH GANGSTERS IN SENSATIONAL OVERCOATS, ARMED TO THE TEETH. THE LANDSCAPE THROBS WITH CYBERORGS AND PSYCHOPATHS, JET MOTORBIKES AND MALEVOLENT BLACK HOLES, OOZING GORE AND ADRENALINE.

IF, BY FLUKE OR BENIGN TYRANNY, A CITY SURVIVES THE FUTURE WITH TRANQUILLITY AND ROOF GARDENS…THE INHABITANTS KEEL OVER WITH BOREDOM, SUFFOCATED BY PSYCHOBABBLE, UNTIL RESCUED BY A GRUNTING SYLVESTER STALLONE WITH FABULOUS WEAPONRY. FAREWELL SHANGI-LA, IT’S BACK TO NUCLEAR ACK-ACK. THIS IS THE FUTURE FOR RENT AT THE VIDEO STORE. IS IT WHAT WE WANT?

EACH PERSON’S JOURNEY INTO THE FUTURE PROCEEDS INEXORABLY, EVEN AS YOU SKIM THESE WORDS, DOTTED BY MOMENTS OF SURPRISE (CASTRO IN A SUIT? LIFE ON THE MOON? )

AND A SERIES OF PANIC ATTACKS… MOSTLY, THE FUTURE IS LEFT TO CHANCE. Part B Some Different Approaches to the Question of Educational Purposes Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 12 THIS IS A BAD IDEA. WE TEND TO BECOME VICTIMS OF OTHER PEOPLE’S AGENDAS. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THE KEY FORCES SHAPING OUR CULTURE COMPEL US TO LOOK AHEAD – NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. WHY? BECAUSE THE FUTURE ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE…

13 1. The UNESCO Approach THE 1996 REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON EDUCATION FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY PROVIDES ONE CONTEMPORARY WAY OF LOOKING AT THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION. THE REPORT, LEARNING: THE TREASURE WITHIN, IS PART OF THE ONGOING ACTIVITIES BY UNESCO TO meet one of its major goals – reforming education systems to meet the requirements of the 21st CENTURY.

WHEN BEGINNING ITS WORK, THE COMMISSION LAID OUT SIX UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES, OR VALUES WHICH IT REGARDED AS …UNIVERSAL AND COMMON TO THE AIMS OF EDUCATORS, CITIZENS, POLICY-MAKERS, AND OTHER PARTNERS AND PARTICIPANTS IN THE PROCESS OF EDUCATION.

14 THESE PRINCIPLES ARE BROADLY CONSISTENT WITH THE OVERALL AIMS OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND UNESCO SPECIFICALLY. 1. Education is a basic human right and a universal human value: learning and EDUCATION ARE ENDS IN THEMSELVES, TO BE AIMED AT BY BOTH INDIVIDUALS AND SOCIETIES AND TO BE PROMOTED AND MADE AVAILABLE OVER THE ENTIRE LIFETIME OF EACH INDIVIDUAL.

2. Education, formal and non-formal, must serve society as an instrument for fostering THE CREATION, ADVANCEMENT AND DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND SCIENCE, AND BY MAKING KNOWLEDGE AND TEACHING UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE.

3. The triple goals of equity, relevance and excellence must prevail in any policy of EDUCATION, AND THE SEARCH FOR A HARMONIOUS COMBINATION OF THESE GOALS IS A CRUCIAL TASK FOR ALL THOSE INVOLVED IN EDUCATIONAL PLANNING AND PRACTICE. 4. Renewal and any corresponding reform of education must be the result of profound

AND THOUGHTFUL EXAMINATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT SUCCESSFUL PRACTICE AND POLICY, AS WELL AS UNDERSTANDING OF THE SPECIFIC CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS RELEVANT TO EACH PARTICULAR SITUATION; THEY MUST BE DECIDED UPON BY MUTUAL AGREEMENT THROUGH APPROPRIATE PACTS AMONG THE PARTIES CONCERNED, AS A MEDIUM-TERM PROCESS.

5. While existence of a wide variety of economic, social, and cultural situations clearly CALLS FOR DIFFERING APPROACHES TO EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, ALL APPROACHES MUST TAKE INTO ACCOUNT BASIC AND AGREED-UPON VALUES AND CONCERNS OF THE INTERNATIONAL

COMMUNITY AND OF THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM: HUMAN RIGHTS, TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING, DEMOCRACY, RESPONSIBILITY, UNIVERSALITY, CULTURAL IDENTITY, THE SEARCH FOR PEACE, THE PRESERVATION OF THE ENVIRONMENT, THE SHARING OF KNOWLEDGE, ALLEVIATION OF POVERTY, POPULATION CONTROL, HEALTH.

6. Education is the responsibility of the whole of society: all persons involved and all PARTNERSHIPS – IN ADDITION TO THOSE INCUMBENT ON INSTITUTIONS – MUST BE TAKEN FULLY INTO ACCOUNT. THE FOUR PILLARS OF EDUCATION, DESCRIBED IN THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION, LEARNING: THE TREASURE WITHIN, ARE THE BASIS OF THE WHOLE REPORT.

THE COMMISSION ARGUES THAT THESE FOUR PILLARS OF KNOWLEDGE CANNOT BE ANCHORED SOLELY IN ONE PHASE IN A PERSON’S LIFE OR IN A SINGLE PLACE. IT ARGUES THAT THERE IS A NEED TO RE-THINK WHEN DURING PEOPLE’S LIVES EDUCATION SHOULD BE PROVIDED, AND THE FIELDS THAT SUCH EDUCATION SHOULD COVER. THE PERIODS AND FIELDS SHOULD COMPLEMENT EACH Consultation Paper:

The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 13 OTHER AND BE INTERRELATED IN SUCH A WAY THAT ALL PEOPLE CAN GET THE MOST OUT OF THEIR OWN SPECIFIC EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT ALL THROUGH THEIR LIVES THESE FOUR PILLARS, PROPOSED WITHIN AN OVERALL FRAMEWORK OF LIFELONG LEARNING, ARE INTENDED TO ENCOMPASS ALL EDUCATION AND NOT SCHOOLING ALONE. THEY ARE DESCRIBED ON THE FOLLOWING PAGE.

The Four Pillars of Education15 International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century Learning To Be This type of learning leads to self-knowledge. It should contribute TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WHOLE PERSON – MIND AND BODY, INTELLIGENCE, SENSITIVITY, AESTHETIC APPRECIATION AND SPIRITUALITY.

LEARNING TO BE DEVELOPS AN INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL WAY OF THINKING AND JUDGEMENT SO THAT INDIVIDUALS CAN MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS ON THE BEST COURSES OF ACTION IN DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES THROUGHOUT.

THEIR LIVES. Learning To Do This type of learning prepares people for the new forms of work WHICH WILL CHARACTERISE DEVELOPED ECONOMIES IN THE FUTURE. THE EMPHASIS IS ON PERSONAL COMPETENCE RATHER THAN SPECIFIC OCCUPATIONAL SKILLS, ON SERVICE INDUSTRIES RATHER THAN MANUFACTURING AND ON NEW FORMS OF WORK WHICH REQUIRE TEAM-WORK AND INNOVATION.

IT LEADS TO AN EMPHASIS ON A NEW CONCEPT OF VOCATIONAL CURRICULA, CONSULTATION WITH EMPLOYERS, CAREER GUIDANCE SERVICES AND TEACHERS’ KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD OF WORK. Learning To Live Together This type of learning develops an understanding of other people.

AND AN APPRECIATION OF COMMONALITIES AND INTERDEPENDENCE, IN A SPIRIT OF RESPECT FOR THE VALUES OF PLURALISM, MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND PEACE. SOME COMMON VALUES AND CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR SOCIETY TO OPERATE SMOOTHLY. THE AIM IS TO ASSIST YOUNG PEOPLE TO AVOID PREJUDICES AND INACCURATE ASSUMPTIONS. THIS PURPOSE PROMOTES AN EMPHASIS ON CIVICS EDUCATION, PASTORAL CARE AND PEDAGOGY THAT ENCOURAGES TOLERANCE AND TEAM WORK.

Learning To Know This pillar is about learning how to learn. Learning to know is CONCERNED LESS WITH THE ACQUISITION OF STRUCTURED KNOWLEDGE THAN WITH THE MASTERY OF LEARNING TOOLS OF CONCENTRATION, MEMORY SKILLS AND THE ABILITY TO THINK. THIS SUPPORTS THE OTHER THREE PILLARS, BY DEVELOPING IN STUDENTS THE ABILITY AND INTEREST TO CONTINUE TO LEARN THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES.

On reflection 1. Some argue that in putting forward universal principles underpinning education and proposing THAT EDUCATION AROUND THE WORLD CAN BE BASED ON FOUR COMMON PILLARS, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON EDUCATION FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY HAS IGNORED CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AND ATTEMPTED TO IMPOSE ITS EUROPEAN AND UTOPIAN VIEW OF A LEARNING SOCIETY ON ALL CULTURES.

16 CONSIDERING THE NATURE OF THE FOUR PILLARS, TO WHAT EXTENT IS THIS A REASONABLE ARGUMENT? 2. Do the four pillars provide a useful way of expressing the purposes of education; are they more suitable to the challenges facing education in the 21st century than the ways we have TRADITIONALLY USED. Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 14 Consultation Paper: The Purposes of Education 31 May, 1999 15 2. A Values Approach THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION ARE, TO AN EXTENT, ABOUT VALUES.


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