I have spent some time pondering over what an ideal world would be like? Is there anything in history that can be compared to an ideal world. Human beings are immensely diverse in their skills, abilities and interests. This course has made me rethink what the purpose of education is, and what it means to be educated, what schools are for, and crucially, who should decide these things.
Growing up I repeatedly heard from parents and teachers that kids went to school to study hard, get good grades, get into a good university and ultimately land a high paying job. There was no other purpose to all this learning. I think this is so deeply drilled in my mind that I often tell my kids the same thing.
Coming back, though an ideal world is challenging to define but I can conclude after going through this course that one of the main purposes of education is to teach us to live in societies, to be well integrated and productive members.
Humans are naturally different and diverse. Education needs to celebrate their various skills. Humans are curious by nature. Education needs to spark this curiosity, stimulate, provoke and engage thoughts. Humans are inherently creative. This is reflective all around us, our cultures are dynamic and diverse. Education should enhance the power of creativity.
To sum up education is to get people to be curious, diverse and enhance their natural interests and talents. People are very individualist in their learning and no two people are alike and education needs to account for that. Schools need to facilitate learning and not just testing. Standardised tests should be used in their diagnostic capacity and results should be used to support learning in students.
I quote some extracts from Policy Paper Policy Paper Education, justice and democracy: The struggle over ignorance and opportunity by Prof Stephen J Ball. I feel these following passages greatly summarise education and it’s scope.
“Forms of assessment which rate students according to standardised age- related criteria that encourage ‘teaching to the testʼ and ignore that children learn at different speeds and in different ways should be done away with. We need to engage students in discussing and designing purposeful and meaningful systems of assessment.”
I further quote from the same paper:
“The education of democratic citizens requires critical and political literacies, not just functional skills training that leads to technical literacy. Schools must be centrally concerned with literacies for active local and global citizenship, including a critical view of the world of work. Learning to read and write should be based on an understanding that literacy is a social practice and that making meaning requires “reading the world and the word”.
We need to break away from the passionless transmission of inert information, by choosing instead to study both the crucial problems faced by our culture and our procedures for thinking and acting on them.
Among other things schools should have a responsibility to develop the capabilities of parents, students, teachers, and other local stakeholders; to participate, to discuss, to challenge and critique.
Schools should be educative institutions, in the broadest sense, with a responsibility to contribute to the development of “high energy democracy” in ways which draw upon ‘narratives of human possibilityʼ.
That means deliberation as well as debate. Public deliberation is the discussion of public issues by members of the public who are enabled to voice their diverse views, interests, and values, with values considered as important as interests. Through deliberation, people influence one another as they struggle with complex issues.
This would mean detaching education from the distortions of measurement comparison, converting them “from exam factories to communities of discovery”.”
Social injustice is what drives developing countries like mine into chaos. Many of our worst social problems, social conflicts and inequalities stem from, or are perpetuated by, ignorance. In my country where public schooling is marginalised and most people if they can afford it send their children to private schools or just don’t send children to schools. Girls are worse off for many are married off at young age (this happens across all income groups).
Hence having money makes a huge difference to peopleʼs ability to afford private tutors and private education, and to finance the masterʼs degree essential for the good jobs. This in turn further widens the social gaps. With widening social gaps there is social unrest.
A stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens. The gain from the education of a child accrues not only to the child or to his parents but to other members of the society by promoting a stable and democratic society.
Since the good of education benefits the wider population it should be managed by the government with help from the private sector.
In developing countries there is also the problem of extremism and I wanted to quote some thoughts on that I feel it’s very relevant as when education fails extremism starts to rise in poor countries. I quote from the article
Can Education Prevent Violent Extremism?http://www.unesco.org/new/en/gefi/stories-events/recent-stories/2016/can-education-prevent-violent-extremism/
“Mr. Jorge Sequeira, UNESCO Representative to the Counter-Terrorism Initiative Task Force and the co-chair of the Working Group on Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism, stated in his opening remarks that extremism gains ground and flourishes when young people lack choices and meaning in their lives. He recalled that in debating the role of education in the prevention of violent extremism, it would be necessary to address questions related to not only the content of education but how it should be delivered, who must be involved, and what kind of policies would be needed for which population groups.
GEFI Youth Advocate, Ms. Anusheh Bakht, she held that in order to ensure a more balanced view of the world “we need to give young people the tools to critically analyze how political factors are influencing how they’re being taught”.
Hence the basic premise of the education policy and hence the arrangements of schooling should be aimed at ensuring that all children remain in the system, learning, flourishing and growing in self-esteem and confidence.
To conclude schools should be given the grand challenge of civic responsibility rather than the narrow and stultifying task of driving up examination and test scores in the service of local and international league tables. The government should oversee this task and facilitate learning for the children and safe rewarding work environment for the Teachers.