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What is the purpose of education?: The most important question in the education revolution

It is recently trendy to say "its time for an education revolution". So before we get these lofty ideas about all the things wrong with the system and how to fix it, lets talk about what the purpose of education is. Once decided (will it ever be truly decided?) then, and only then, can we create a proper educational system.
So lets hear some options! Whats the purpose of education???

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    Sep 14 2013: I would rephrase the question into "What CONCEPTION of education we want to be".

    Why? Because education in any epoch in any society objectively does have a goal, even if this goal is not understood by the people of this society. And thus we basically have to answer both questions:
    - what is the goal (or conception) of the education right now
    - what goal (or conception) of the education we want to be

    As regards to the purpose of education, then it is simple = educate population = produce a particular statistics of distribution of people over particular mindsets, skills, etc. This expected statistics is defined by the `concept of the education` (or goal).

    The conception of the education that I personally want and propose is as next:
    - to produce the participants of the society able to participate in social governance
    - to nurture a constructive, creative, methodological culture of cognition, thinking and communication
    - to help people realize own unique potential
    - to provide methodological mindset so that everybody is able to build own holistic and integral understanding of the society and find own place in this system

    The conception of the education that I feel today is as next:
    - prevent realization of own unique potential
    - produce alienated recipients not able to participate in the social governance
    - restrict access to the integral knowledge, so that everybody understand only his particular area and never has chance to build a holistic perspective on the society
    - program people to learn not what they are potential of, but what is required for the capitalistic machine of exploitation of humans
    - nurture a non-constructive, ego-centric or dogmatic culture of cognition, thinking and communication
    explanation: ego-centric culture of thinking is required for an intellectually higher social layer of "managers and engineers", while dogmatic culture is required for a social layer of "hard-workers" who can execute under supervision of "managers"
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    Sep 12 2013: First and foremost, to find out what students are naturally good at. It would involve an education system that takes its fundamental cues from the students themselves, even at primary school age, and then uses teacher skills as mentors to nurture and facilitate the strengthening of innate talent. This way, both students and teachers would rekindle a solid and lasting passion for what they do.

    It would mark something of a renaissance of the value of raw talent, which in turn would translate into quality of life, rather than slavery to acquisitiveness and materialism - which is what politicians want from us.

    Politicians meddling in education "from the top down" is just about the worst thing that could ever happen to an institution which is as important as the air we breathe. Take politicians out of the equation and education would improve overnight.
    • Sep 14 2013: I very much agree with you and would love to see a school where students are led to discover their individual passions and talents, rather than being discouraged from learning, but I fear that it is a blindly optimistic philosophy. This fear is grounded in that belief that, to some extent, children need to be guided to develop skills that they aren't naturally drawn to. For instance, the child who has a love of music would also benefit in life from understanding how to do things they consider boring, such as spelling or doing basic math. So I believe that some skills are essential for all kids to be taught, especially at the primary level, but there definitely needs to be more encouraging students to strengthen their natural talents and developing their own unique purposes than our school system currently allows for.
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    Sep 11 2013: To even need to ask/argue about this, shows how society hit down hard at the bottom. Nice you brought it up.

    Basic and fundamental notions here.
    - the world has a finite amount of resources that humans living on earth depend on;
    - an individual (being a person or a society) can just evolve sustainably and consistently as long as all evolve together;

    Usually there's no problem I reflect upon, where education don't come as the long term solution and it's lacking the major cause.

    As I see it education must be more than having to go through endless years of technical knowledge. Everyone should be taught how to read, write, calculate properly, then basic knowledge of their countries and world history, basics of proper social behavior, governance and environmental sustainability, basic life support, how to exercise (doesn't need to be sports) and eat, finally and most important how to think.
    Then society needs people to learn something which makes them useful to the well function of the community. That should be already up to each, their ambitions and in an intelligent society it should not be limited by finances.

    The Education lacking and thus the mess we see the world today is mostly value like.
    In a highly technically educated western world, we face ever so more with people that don't know how to think, that get depressed with all the reality around them.
    Is because people are not educated that they accept whatever the media and politicians want them to, being so easily manipulated and unable to fight back the lobbies that restrain us from achieving a better social level.
    The corruption and greediness of our leaders, the way they are easily manipulated and guided way from a global well being, just shows how besides technically shortage of knowledge they are short of principles and values too. May be they just reflect the majority.
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    Sep 11 2013: In the late 19th century, most of Europe began to provide elementary education in reading, writing, and arithmetic, partly because politicians believed that education was needed for orderly political behavior. As more people became literate, they realized that most secondary education was only open to those who could afford it. Having created primary education, the major nations had to give further attention to secondary education by the time of World War 1.

    As secondary education became in vogue, students were schooled in the needs of the military and industry of the time. To some extent that remains true even today. When the mission statements are read you will find they say something about preparing the student for entry into the work place ... preparing the student for further studies ... finding their place in society ... etc ...

    Taken from Wikipedia: Presumably every generation, since the beginning of human existence, somehow passed on its stock of values, traditions, methods and skills to the next generation. The passing on of culture is also known as enculturation and the learning of social values and behaviours is socialization. The systematic provision of learning techniques to most children, such as literacy, has been a development of the last 150 or 200 years, or even last 50 years in some countries.

    If accepted then education is the passing of information from one generation to the next.

    The problem we face today is that education is no longer a cultural mandate ... In the US it has become a political tool. The Federal Government has usurped the powers once belonging to the states. The remaining powers in education once was given to the local school boards now belongs to the state. Left out of the equation are the educators and the parents. A pity. The Socialization of American Education is all but complete.

    Funding / grants all come from the Federal government ... and as we all know he who has the gold rules.

    I wish you well
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      Sep 18 2013: > If accepted then education is the passing of information from one generation to the next.

      1) It is passing of information from all preceding generations rather than from only one.
      2) Concept of "generation" is very abstract and it misses an important aspect, which is very significant for practical understanding of education: the de-facto hierarchy of means in this generation by ability to informationally influence on the people. Different concrete layouts of this hierarchy have different impacts on what behavioral information is passed through continuity of generations and what is blocked.

      Corresponding to that we can talk about conception of education or informational policy in society (or conception of selection of the information from the global culture -- if culture is understood as all information existing in society). This conception exists de-facto independent of whether anybody has designed it consciously (to execute particular conception of ruling) or it has been emerged spontaneously and unconsciously (and thus can be modeled by the sociologists to observe the trends and share or not share it with public).

      Corresponding to that we can talk about presence or absence of the informational sovereignty of people. This kind of sovereignty is available to the people only if they are educated in a sociology, that includes these aspects of informational safety. So the problem consists of two components:
      A) Develop a useful sociology that is able to grant informational safety and sovereignty to the people of the Earth
      B) Open possibilities for all people to learn this useful sociology

      You basically was focusing only on the second portion of this problem. Could you share your perspectives on the point A? Thank you.
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        Sep 18 2013: Andrei, I have had three other people read your reply .... we all think you have agreed with me but want to say it in another way. Is that right? Second ... Is Point A your A and B above not included in the original question?

        A) Develop a useful sociology that is able to grant informational safety and sovereignty to the people of the Earth

        Sociology is the scientific study of human social behavior and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions. It is a social science which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social actions, social structure and functions.. Why do I need to redefine that?

        Are you saying that we should not have American / British / Asian / Jewish / etc / cultures but instead have a Earth culture? Will not work.

        General Eisenhower upon seeing the Jewish death camps ordered movies, photos, and complete documentation and all German citizen for 100 miles to be made to tour the death camps. He said that future generations will deny that this ever happened and will have it removed from school text and history. He was right about those wishing to revise history and erase that event.

        I fear that revisionists would do the same to "world history"

        There is also the relationship to Archaeology. Archaeology has various goals, which range from studying human evolution to cultural evolution and understanding culture history.

        I am not so sure that only the educated can explore these areas ... how about genealogy and the family history that is incorporated in that family tree.

        Naw .. I will leave it as it is and have many small parts that comprise a whole .. each of those small parts have a significant role and importance and should be address and respected separately.

        What was this threat about again????

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
  • Sep 24 2013: Addressing the original question of education, the purpose seems divided. The origins of education had its roots in two areas: 1)philosophy where Socrates or Confucius or similar teachers searched within themselves for development. 2)anthropology - where we pass on information on as culture - essentially this applies as a double edged sword of professionalism and its more unsightly counterpart; slavery.

    Of course, today's education system is an evolution of the above dynamic and we have basically set standards to maintain vocations or professions since the Middle Ages. This seems to fit the current economic dynamic - which is everyone pursues education for prospect in work or social mobility. As such, the passing on of information and its assumptions can be quite influential as far as the concept of GIGO (gargage in, garbage out)goes. Another challenge facing the education revolution given the development of varying disciplines and the interrelationship of knowledge. The bureaucracy that education has become must be able to allow flexibility in order to assimilate new knowledge so that professions are more valuable to changing economic dynamics and structural changes in order to maintain this value. I apologise but am called in for emergency... Hope this answer suffices.
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    Sep 11 2013: To inspire learning as our life-long endeavor.

    learning = understanding
  • Sep 11 2013: Teach WHAT to learn.......or Teach HOW to learn.

    One is inferior to the other.
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    Sep 10 2013: The Purpose is unique per person; no more industrial age model of one standard.

    Some say this is future , I say that is a limited vision and the future is even better then we can imagine. All students really need to know is how to communicate, question, and find/figure out answers. We can’t predict what they will need to know, all we can do is to get them ready to figure it out, no matter what it may be.
    • Sep 14 2013: Agreed! There is no one-size-fits-all model of schooling, especially with the pace at which our society changes. My high school science teacher used to be known for saying "most of the jobs you all will work haven't even been thought of yet"
  • Sep 10 2013: Generally, education has many purposes, but the building of schools and the hiring of professional staff is a public investment, and should be treated as such.

    Before we start determining the purpose of schools, we should address a more basic question, what CAN the schools be held responsible for accomplishing? To some extent, education is the responsibility of the student. That is just a fact of life. There is no point in trying to hold the education system responsible for something that only the student and the student's parents can control.

    A long time ago, education was clearly the responsibility of the student and parents. Schools just provided the means for the student to educate herself/himself. We will probably never return to that simple paradigm, but the only way to improve schools is to first have a clear idea of what they can and cannot do.

    Our politicians, and many education experts, now seem to think that children can be molded by schools like clay. If the schools do the right things, all the children will become educated. All of the children I have ever met had individual personalities that make this notion seem absurd.
  • Oct 6 2013: Education is preparation that we make to dive into so called practical world and also to maintain ourselves in that world.
    Education helps us to broaden our mind, give us knowledge, it acts as a source which teaches us about past, present and helps us predict our future.
    Education not only provides us with set of skills, but also teaches us about morals, duties, ethics which all are very important.

    It is a tool of great importance, it broadens our mind, create an insight, vision and an opinion about everything. History, Politics, Philosophy, Physics are all just the formal headings given to divide the system properly, to help us understand systematically.
  • Sep 20 2013: The purpose of Education....The main purpose is to gain knowledge or to make our life/ life of society comfortable.But today this purposes are thrown away & the modern purpose is " Get degree,nice job,happy life....I don't think this is the right purpose of education.We are loosing are great thinkers,philosophers.
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    Sep 19 2013: Anyone who thinks that an "education" is something one obtains from an institution and is thereby validated by a piece of paper has been mislead by their educators.

    Everything we do, everything we see, hear and experience is part of our education. Our earliest lessons in language and social norms comes from our families and acquaintances. Employees learn far more once they are 'on the job' then they can in any classroom or lecture hall. Everyone becomes more proficient and knowledgeable at certain tasks and endeavours the more they practice them.

    Yes, education is an action word and, as such, requires our active participation. Learning is a life long process and we should never allow ourselves to become complacent or indifferent to the idea that there is always more to learn.

    But the idea that "an education" is somehow primarily about jobs and careers is a bastardization of the very concept of education. The idea that certain aspects or categories of "knowledge" and "education" should only be accessible to those who can pay for it is an obscenity. And any student that deemed "un-teachable" is a beacon of truth pointing the boney finger of responsibility right back at the so-called teacher.
  • Sep 19 2013: The purpose of education is to give people the opportunity to succeed in the so competitive world we live in today. But not in a sense that people need to memorize when King Charles died but more to be able to critically think and express your ideas. The problem is that education has become to much about memorizing and not enough understanding and being able to contribute to the world and be a good human being
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      Sep 19 2013: mine is idealistic, yours is the reality.
  • Sep 14 2013: Taryn I love irony. My personal picture is a collage with a garden in the background. The three kids I found from a revolutionary war reenactment. They had rifles and were playing like they were going to war with their proud parents looking on (and we wonder why we have problems in this country).
    Anyway, I replaced their rifles with shovels and called it the "Growing Revolution". I think one of the first things kids should learn is to grow their own food.
  • Sep 14 2013: From my own experience and observation I can only say there purpose is to keep a steady slave and consumer supply.

    The traits they want most are dependent, addicted, obedient, desensitized, violent consumers.

    It is a very successful program so far, perfect for the military and corporate mediocre jobs but most importantly non-discriminate consumers. It is no longer necessary to produce intelligent leaders or management positions as there are plenty being produced in other countries. It is a system that works to the optimum benefit of the multi-national corporations that bought the world. It is called the New World Order have you got your membership card yet?

    Would I like to see a change? Oh yes and I am going to work on the education system as soon as I accomplish something more important: Health- Please eat your fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Sep 14 2013: Keith, I meant the question as "what *should* the purpose of education be", but as that wasn't explicitly clear in my phrasing, this comment in an important one to add and I thank you for it. The system as it is does likely have the sort of hidden (are they hidden?) goals that you have mentioned. I would also add to that list "homogenous, uncreative, and passive"
      However, if this program has been so successful, how did we get here? Yes, it churns out many obedient graduates ready for the corporate consumer world, but it must not be so successful if there are also so many individuals that are able to think critically and defiantly, as clearly evidenced by this one thread.
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    Sep 14 2013: I suppose what you mean to ask is what is the ideal purpose of education since "education" as it now exists has as many purposes as there are cultures and educators. With the Khan academy and internet making content education almost obsolete we can really begin to focus on absolute fundamentals. This seems proven too by studies which show that facts and even skills are seldom retained even one year after high school, about 20% being the average. Several contributors speak of learning how to learn and others focus on finding out what to learn both of which are good and necessary. But I would begin with self awareness, to learn what it means to be a human being by studying what we have in common with others and also how are we different. How can we find our place in nature and explore what we each need to know without this fundamental understanding? Few can retain much content unless they have become convinced of its relevance to them, so why try to cram a so called standard curriculum down students throats? If we study ourselves we will have the opportunity to learn how each of us can best learn. There is no one perfect way that works for everyone. The best teachers like those in Finland study the child to discover what works for them. Visual, tactile and aural modes vary in their effectiveness. Experiential modes work for many but again if self motivation is lacking it will still tend to be futile in the long run. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying essentially that we need more healers and peacemakers not more "successful" ethic-less profit makers. A clever lawyer without ethics serves no one but himself. Some Japanese schools focus the first years on "learning to be happy" this seems to include social awareness and communication both of which fit well with the approach I describe. I have been nominated for next years TED prize with the explicit goal of creating a working model of an ideal school. I am looking for volunteers who would like to help develop such.
    • Sep 14 2013: Chad, thank you for this contribution. It is so well informed and very relevant to today's issues. I have had many a conversation discussing whether content knowledge is obsolete and whether we still need to learn facts that can be looked up on a device in our pockets, and I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to some extent. In order to apply new knowledge, put it in its proper context, or think critically about it in any way, we have to have some sort of footing of knowledge in our heads to compare it to. Yes, we only retain a small percent of what we learn (as you said, 20%), but if we dont learn much, 20% of not much is pretty useless!
      That being said, your comments about self awareness and learning what it means to be human are crucial. Factual knowledge is useless without this sort of understanding. I think you philosophy is very well centered on what is really important in life and where we should be headed for the future if we want to create a world that we actually want to be a part of.
      I wish you the best of luck with the TED prize. Although I am still a student, creating a revolutionary school model is my life goal as well and its always reassuring for me to find others working towards that same goal. I'm not so sure there is such a thing as one "ideal" school, but there are definitely ways to do it better for particular students, and we can definitely keep heading closer towards those ideal schools.
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    Sep 12 2013: I think you're asking this because the word 'education' became frequently used and repeated in those days for propaganda or prestige purposes, however, this doesn't mean education isn't really important. Actually, education had been quite essential in the human development since thousands of years, and in our days it's playing this role as it didn't ever.

    There's many possible philosophies to explain why education is important, but one of my favorite (which I consider the most important) is that, someone's life is too short to gain knowledge and experiences about this world, but when we collect this knowledge and these experiences from all people who lived and are living on all around the globe, we will be able to know much much more about our world. So far, education is the best way we have to collect this knowledge and carry it to the following generations, and that's why it is very important.
  • Sep 11 2013: my personal belief is that the purpose of education is to create life time learners that live happy balanced lives. Unfortunately, I also feel that the institutional purpose of education is the creation of the workers for industry and the military. Can these 2 purposes co-exist? yes and no. Today, no because the institutions are producing individuals that are not worth much for both industry and the military.

    In fact the revolution may be trying to create the workers for today and will miss what is needed for the future.
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    Sep 11 2013: I suppose there's more than one purpose to education. Some of it is acquiring specific, practical skills. Some of it is learning how to learn, in other words, learning what to do when you don't know how to do something.
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    Sep 11 2013: Historically, in the USA, the purpose of schooling was to learn about God and about how to serve God properly. Today it is forbidden to mention the subject. Perhaps the proper purpose of Education lies in our history.
    • Sep 11 2013: :-)
      I come on peace. I was wondering if I might ask you a question......

      Is God separate from the children who are being taught?
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        Sep 11 2013: No. All humans are made in the image of God. A supremely tragic event early in human history rendered the communication lines between Mankind and God non-functional. Restoration of that intimacy between Man and God is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. Good question Scott. Be well and continue in peace.
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        Sep 11 2013: "Is God separate from the children who are being taught?"

        Yes, the children in the US public-education are being brain washed into the Darwin religion and that god is a myth.
      • Sep 11 2013: If it makes you feel better, the bible says we ate from the tree of knowledge and will learn everything, become as gods, immortal and all knowing.
        But it says nothing pro or con about evolution, yet you are evidently outraged by schools teaching what Darwin observed. Didn't god make creatures able to change as needed to survive? You see it every day. You do it.
        You eat fruit in summer, when it's there and eat roots like potatoes in winter, when you can't get fruit. You may even can fruit, adapting it for later use as jam. Get it?
        You wear coats in winter and cotton in summer. You adapt.
        Poor Darwin. All he did was look at animals on some islands, notice that their different sizes and shapes depended on what plants or nectars or seeds they ate and try to explain the differences. You are so mean to him.
        Change is reality. Birds understand it. They don't complain about having to go south for winter. They adapted long ago.
        The bible says we were cast out of a garden into the wilderness, a high price to pay for knowledge. Try to enjoy the benefits.
        We do not live by one interpretation of the bible. Read it for yourself instead of listening to someone (your priest or preacher) try to tell you what it says and you'll be amazed at the rules about thinking and belief that are NOT IN THERE.

        If you've started wearing sunscreen that's an Adaptation to less ozone. Animals don't have sunscreen. Ones that are too sensitive to sun go blind, die early, don't have as many young. The next generation is less sensitive to sun because the ones who had the most babies least hurt by sun exposure. That's evolution. It's not dangerous or fanatical or anti-religion. Like grass greening up in summer, it's just reality.
        Jesus said you can only come to god through him. Why? Was it so his teaching couldn't be expanded and twisted to attack new ideas like Darwin's?
        What do you think?
    • Sep 14 2013: There are many different interpretations, even within Christianity, on how to properly serve God. When the American public school (or common school) system was created, there was great debate over whether Protestant, Catholic, or no religious content should be included. So I'm curious as to how you believe it should be decided/ who should decide what is the "proper" way that all children should learn to serve God.
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        Sep 14 2013: Research the founding principles of every Ivy League college. You will see my information is accurate. They were unanimous then that the Holy Bible is the only rule of life and faith. Modern religion has eroded into an all-encompassing, theological swamp which offers no guidance at all. As I suggested above, perhaps the purpose is to be found in our history. I believe, as they did then, that the Holy Bible defines the proper way to serve God.
  • Sep 10 2013: If we think about education as a process that begins at the moment of birth (or possibly before?), then I would argue that its purpose is to produce thoughtful, articulate, self-actualizing adults who are capable of rational thought, effective communication, and independent choice. This kind of education could, of course, coexist with "training" in practical skills, but I would like to avoid confusion between the two.
    • Sep 14 2013: Hmm David, you raise an interesting point. I was pretty vague about what I meant by education. I meant it to imply "formal schooling", but children are most definitely educated every second of their lives.
  • Sep 10 2013: I don't think it is up to us to decide the purpose of the education of others. That privelege belongs to those who are being educated.
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      Sep 11 2013: On a personal, individual level I agree. But how about on a public level? Don't we need curricula standardization and classroom protocol in order to educate the masses?
      • Sep 11 2013: I am against requiring education of any sort for anyone. Those who do not wish to learn will not learn no matter what anyone else does and if we are to be the free society we claim to be we have no right to force them to waste their time in a classroom. Those who wish to learn will benefit from the absence of the willfully ignorant. There were quite a few people in my grade school who learned very little and were quite proud of it. I could've done without the distractions they created.

        Even without that, if you agree that the purpose of education is up to the individual then there can be no standardized curiculum since such a curiculum can't match the educational goals of everyone.
        • Sep 14 2013: Who claims to be a free society?

          We are a functioning society with rules and requirements to keep things working. Most of us have to know the rules and follow the regulations because of reality.
          If everyone at a stop sign goes at once, no one gets anywhere but maybe a hospital, after the wreckage is cleared.
          We teach our kids the basic legal, cultural and criminal rules of the road in school, or how to read well enough to learn them for themselves. Hopefully we prepare them to be functional, surviving and contributing adults able to take care of themselves, thus not a burden on others, and capable at least of understanding what this society will not permit without serious consequences, like jail, fines or even the death penalty in some states.
          We hope they will contribute to our general well being, but expect them to at least not negatively impact others.
          If someone doesn't know what is required of them to be allowed in society, we have failed them as a culture. Normally we don't feel right about punishing those who do not know what is expected of them or cannot think or behave themselves because of mental or emotional differences that may prevent them from getting along among us. Often we discover and can then attempt to overcome limitations while they are in school.
          Schools and societies are imperfect attempts to make life workable in the times we live in for as many of us as possible.
        • Sep 14 2013: Robert, I agree that there is no one-size-fits all school system and that there should be different options to suit people with different goals and needs, and thus there should not be a standardized curriculum.
          However, to your point about not making everyone go to school, what about those kids who think they don't care about school, and just need to be guided for a while until they find their passions and interests. They might get later in life and find something they are really interested in, and not have the educational background to be able to pursue it.
          I think there would be a whole lot of kids who, if given the choice, would choose to sit home rather than do all the work required for school, because kids only focus on the here and now and dont see school's potential benefits for the future. and it is for their own best interests, as well as society's, that there are not massive amounts of uneducated clueless bums who arent capable of doing much of anything. I know what you mean about those kids who drag down the other kids who really do want to learn, but I think it would be a mistake to take them out of school all together.
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        Sep 11 2013: there is no public level
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          Sep 11 2013: Private schools are run differently than public schools. You say there are no public schools?
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        Sep 11 2013: you are using the word "public" in two different ways. your first use was something like "society level". this is nonexistent. the second use is "state operated". unfortunately, such schools exist. they should not.
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          Sep 11 2013: Only those who desire to, and can afford to, educate their children should do so?
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        Sep 11 2013: yes. that is, virtually everyone in the developed world.
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          Sep 11 2013: Isn't one of the indicators of any Developed Nation their Public Education infrastructure?
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        Sep 11 2013: also their military power. it does not make it a good thing.
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          Sep 11 2013: Perhaps. But what explains the absence of a single example from history of a Developed Nation without a public education system? Why has no nation ever achieved "Developed" status without a Public Education system?
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        Sep 11 2013: what explains the absence of a single nation without army? what explains the absence of a single nation without rape?
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          Sep 11 2013: The topic is Education, NOT Armies or rape. You advocate a national policy which excludes a K-12 public funded school system. I want to know why there is no example of such a nation in the history of developed (1st world) nations. I think it is relevant to the posted question. That's my Q. What is your A?
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        Sep 11 2013: my examples show that your logic is not good. it is called reductio ad absurdum. if the existence would validate, rape would also be valid. we have rape, because we still did not figure out a way to get rid of it. the public school system is coercive. it is just a form of aggression and oppression. sooner or later we wise up.
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          Sep 11 2013: So the only reason no developed nation has ever successfully functioned without a public education system is, "because we still did not figure out a way to get rid of it."? Regarding Logic you are shifting the burden of proof which rightly belongs with you because your premise (public school is a form of aggression and oppression) is not sufficient to support a valid conclusion, thus your argument is invalid.
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        Sep 12 2013: in this case, because we haven't figured out that we are better without it. there is no burden of proof on my part, since my recommendation is the removal of imposed systems, a negative action, or lack of action. public education is the action, a rather coercive one, that requires proof. a much stronger proof than "all others do it".

        i don't need to prove that public education is coercive. this is self evident. i kinda hope you don't want to question it, because it would look rather odd. saying that it is not coercive would be saying it is voluntary.
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          Sep 12 2013: Claiming your premise to be "self-evident" does not render your argument valid. I know an appeal to tradition is a fallacy of logic, but that does not mean tradition is always wrong. I think you have answered my question about why no developed nation in recent history has been without a mandatory public education system. Correct me if I am wrong, but your answer is, "because they still did not figure out a way to get rid of it." Is that your position?
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        Sep 12 2013: no, first get your position clear. do you say that public education in the US is voluntary? anyone can just say, nope, thanks, i'm not paying this, and i'm not participating in this, nor i follow any guidelines they follow.
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          Sep 12 2013: Your effort to argue about my position is a red herring which I reject. The question I am asking you is: If, as you assert, mandatory public education is coercisve and undesirable why has every developed nation in recent history included such a system in their infrastructure? Again, I think I understand your answer is that everyone has it because no one can figure out how to get rid of it. Is that your belief, your position, your argument?
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          Sep 12 2013: If you are asking for clarity, people are required to pay taxes without direct control of how they are used, but people are not required to send their kids to public school. Many families send kids to private school and others homeschool.
        • Sep 14 2013: One reason for part of our public education system is to teach our history and political system to persons who want to become citizens. Since its founding, America has had many immigrants from all different cultures, and in order to keep the peace and hopefully integrate newcomers into one nation, we use education.
          A major part of the developing legislation aimed at allowing us to absorb millions of illegal immigrants is their meeting certain educational goals. We do not want to break into separate competing cultures with different languages, work rules, and no real connections. The lack of a common history, language and legal system has lead to turf wars and chaos in the past, which most of us want to avoid.
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        Sep 12 2013: part historical reasons, part psychology, but in fact this is the red herring. abolishment of slavery is good, regardless of all the reasons why it existed. rape is bad, no matter what the psychology or history or even biological aspects of it are. coercion is bad, no matter how it was formed and why it is maintained.
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          Sep 12 2013: i am convinced you will not answer the question I have repeatedly asked you. The discussion has slipped into the informal fallacy of Argument From Repetition. Bye now.
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        Sep 12 2013: having problems reading on your mother tongue?

        Q: why has every developed nation in recent history included such a system
        A: part historical reasons, part psychology
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          Sep 12 2013: Hark! Is that an answer I read? Your answer to the question, "Why has every developed nation in recent history included such a system [mandatory education]?" is, "... part historical reasons, part psychology...". Thank you for uncovering the answer which I overlooked because of my lack of fluency in American English. Dare I pose a follow-up question to you? Here goes: since you assert that all modern developed nations have perpetuated the system of mandatory education for reasons other than the merits of the system itself, what specific problem(s) do you believe result from mandatory public education? Remember, as Fritzie has pointed-out above, mandatory education can take any one of several freely chosen forms.
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        Sep 12 2013: i'm getting extremely bored, but here is your question with substituting slavery to public education. observe how well it holds up:

        "since you assert that all modern developed nations have perpetuated the system of slavery for reasons other than the merits of the system itself, what specific problem(s) do you believe result from slavery?"
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          Sep 12 2013: BUZZZZ! Non-sequitur! No progress here. Bye. Please, bye.
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        Sep 12 2013: i tried. hard to wake up someone that pretends to sleep.
    • Sep 11 2013: Hello,
      But don't we need to educate people to what they could learn? If someone doesn't know the possibilities of knowledge or life, how can they make an educated choice about what they want or need to know? How can they know what might thrill or fascinate or fulfill them, should they be in a culture and position to explore. How can you know that chemistry is your lifelong joy if no one and no organization ever introduces you to it?
      • Sep 11 2013: The entire issue to me is one of force. It is almost always immoral to force other people to do things your way. The only justifiable use of force is in self defense. It doesn't matter what good you are trying to do. If you use immoral means you will automatically fail. You can't do good by doing bad.

        People can share their passions with others without enslaving them. Would you set people down and make them learn every field of human endeavor on the off chance that they might love one or two? Is it possible that people are capable of finding their passions without being forced?
        • Sep 14 2013: Education is opportunity. I'm not saying make everyone go through graduate school, just introduce them to music, genetics, botany, mechanics, etc, and let them study what interests them.
  • Sep 10 2013: There are many reasons for what is done in K-12 But I believe the main ones are learning and learning how to learn
    • Sep 14 2013: Do you think developing social skills and moral values should be part of the goals of schooling?
      • Sep 15 2013: Okay sure And I didn't beat my wife - In fact, I don't even have one. But here in Texas the big one is football.
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    Sep 10 2013: To distinguish yourself from animals on physical and mental, find the self-value and make the best use of it, establish your views of world , change your life as well as other's.
  • W T

    • +1
    Sep 10 2013: To create life long learners :)
  • Sep 24 2013: THE BASIC NEED TO HAVE IDEAS, TO HAVE A IDENTITY, TO HAVE MORAL VALUES, TO DETERMINE YOUR GOAL, TO FULFILL YOUR SATISFACTION, TO ............................................................
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    Sep 20 2013: I observe that education, as we know it, is a good system gone bad.

    I could say a lot more, but Paulo Freire says it better:
    (plus a lot of more of his detailed stuff on youtube and elsewhere)

    He published a book "The Pedagogy of the Oppressed" - it's worth getting.
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          Sep 24 2013: that's my point. you never attempted to address my point, therefore whatever you said, should have been deleted right away. you still don't understand the difference between attacking a comment and attacking a person. some would say, it is an excuse for your behavior. i'm not that empathic. i only care about the actions, i don't care about the motivation, nor capability of doing any better. a stinker is a stinker. an ad hominem is an ad hominem. and the author of such comments should be banned with zero hesitation.
  • Sep 19 2013: Education is giving young people the correct tools to be a better citizen an contribute to the success of society
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    Sep 19 2013: As stated in my previous comment education is of the utmost importance.
    As this is true and my mind has been coming back to this I would like just to add something.

    People in general think/write in the line where they pose education as important for oneself.
    Thus comes the competition for the better education, the wanting or not to be educated as an advantage over other people.

    This is the main stream idea we find in the motivational process and foundation of educative systems most everywhere.

    This is wrong. Education is not an advantage for oneself, it must represent an advantage to all the society.
    I don't mean educating people so we can have more "Einsteins", I mean educating people so you can have a general population that can think and make the best decisions (daily small decisions, family structuring, political, economical, health and life style, educational decisions) that work towards a common well being and sustainable environmental and social development.

    Decisions that build virtuous circles instead of destructive ones.

    People getting a strong basic education it's up to discussion only when some people intend to be able to control and manipulate the populace. Otherwise it's straight obvious it represents an advantage.
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      Sep 19 2013: how about the following reasoning? it is a good idea to kill a young healthy individual, and use his organs for transplantation. this way, we kill one, but save four or five or more. what is your reply to that argument?
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          Sep 19 2013: this reply is of the lowest quality, but i especially like this gem: " you keep being the coherent guy who speaks about himself in the 3rd person". i never did that, so maybe you don't remember me after all?
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          Sep 19 2013: Many modern humans have little expertise in anything, but we have access to much better health care today. We confront some health problems our ancestors didn't because we live longer. They confronted some we can address easily today, thanks to advances in knowledge.

          My reference to our ancestors was that we live longer and therefore have more time, should we choose to use it that way, to learn. if we are so inclined. I respect the choice to continue learning and possibly to become expert in more than one field.

          I don't understand the phrase "how interesting is Krisztian about his expertise," but personal attacks are outside the Terms of Use of TED Conversations. In other words, please try to stay to discussion of the subject of the thread, rather than making personal comments about members of the community.
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        Sep 19 2013: I think, Krisztian, Joao is referring to your profile, which is in the third person, rather than to your posts in discussion.

        I must say for myself that I respect people who work to develop expertise in multiple fields. I think too many people commit themselves only to narrow specialization.

        This potential to develop ourselves in multiple areas is one benefit of our increased longevity compared to our distant ancestors.
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      Sep 20 2013: from recent development in the conversation, it became quite apparent that you are unconsciously aware of the hidden aggression and oppression in your own argument, and you are not at all happy with someone uncovering it.

      fyi: if i don't reply to a longer rant, it is probably because i have marked them inappropriate, and waiting for deletion. if they don't delete, i will reply later. i also noticed that sometimes i have to mark them multiple times, as you delete and repost the same content later.
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    Sep 17 2013: To inspire though encouraging.To make education a remedy for rediscovering oneself and being confident.And most important,to teach and stimulate the desire for knowledge all through one 's life.If each  individual changes,profound influence will have huge impact on the society.
  • Sep 17 2013: The purpose of education at present is like a abandoned child in a flowing traffic.
    The purpose of education is to lead a satisfied and civilised life in the society. Not to have bias or superstitious beliefs on how a society runs. Maybe also to decode what the universe hold in its womb!
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    Sep 15 2013: I'd say the main purpose of education is to educate, which is simply giving instruction to someone who need the instruction. I think the second part of the definition of education is the hardest part. Simply giving the instruction is fairly easy (how you give the instrution is a tough aspect), but giving the instruction to whoever needs it and how you determine who needs what education is, in my opinion, the hardest aspect of education. How much English does a math major need (goes the other way too)? Should the English classes be set up the same way as for other majors? Is it feasible to give personalized English course? This sort of leads into online education, where I think education can be most personal and still include human-to-human interaction (even more than in the absence of online education:

    Thanks for the question!
  • Sep 14 2013: I think meaningful education is that teaching the method how to survive in this world. Most education systems require students to be evaluated in a certain way. And it is inevitable since there are too many students(who are learning something) so the standard should be exist. But the problem is it only pushs students into stressful exam..evaluation.. Why we mostly need is the skill to apply something on another:-D
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    Sep 11 2013: For me, the purpose of education is to make you become a good individual. Now you apply all the knowledge you have acquired making this world a better place...
  • Sep 10 2013: To have the most attractive life,as well as 'Journey to the West ' does.Here in China,no matter how many times you watch it.You would feel as attractive as the first time you watched's attraction not because Tang monk rewarded real wise but 108 difficulties and disasters they come acrossed.The experiences were the most excited.So what the purpose of education?it's long way of to enjoy.understand that and enjoy everyday and all...
  • Sep 10 2013: Would this helpful:
    "Education should be a technique of learning (discovering) the better methods of gratifying our natural and inherited urges, and happiness is the resulting total of these enhanced techniques of emotional satisfactions. "

    Education is a good tool to help sort meanings for and to recognize values of life. One who chooses to limit education inhibits self for discovery of purposes. Gaining only intellectual learning without sorting and accepting values for same seems like a dead end, but finding meaning for higher education can lead one to greater happiness--not just for self, but for all humankind.

    Education has been vetted much on TED. We would be wise to implement those higher ideals to help humankind move on to higher planetary achievements, or for prospects of same, with reduced potential for war. The better one educates, the more potential we have for liking improvements anywhere. It is a pathway to peace. It must be more than just intellectual logic.
    • Sep 14 2013: I completely agree Mark, what would be the purpose of just learning facts if we couldnt see the value of life and discover our purpose. Education needs to help guide us to find that purpose snd give us the tools to pursue it.
      This, however, is a pretty difficult task to accomplish, as it is difficult to find the proper balance between guiding and directing, and even worse, one risks guiding someone in the "wrong" direction.
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    Sep 10 2013: Here are some lifted from the mission statement of a local high school:

    To develop creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to global society.

    To offer a rigorous and dynamic experience leading students to take responsibility for their own learning.

    Some schools include something like: Assist students to develop their full intellectual and human potential.

    Here is a brief statement of famous answers to this so often discussed question:

    Here is the mission statement of the school where President Obama sends his children: We offer these students a rich and rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum designed to stimulate creative inquiry, intellectual achievement and independent thinking in a world increasingly without borders. We encourage these students to test themselves in athletic competition and to give expression to their artistic abilities. We draw strength from silence—and from the power of individual and collective reflection. We cultivate in all members of our community high personal expectations and integrity, respect for consensus, and an understanding of how diversity enriches us, why stewardship of the natural world matters and why service to others enhances life. Above all, we seek to be a school that nurtures a genuine love of learning and teaches students "to let their lives speak.

    And here is a caution from eminent urban scholar and child-advocate Lisa Delpit: "Many liberal educators hold that the primary goal for education is for children to become autonomous, to develop fully who they are in the classroom setting without having arbitrary, outside standards forced upon them.This is a very reasonable goal for people whose children are already participants in the culture of power and who have already internalized its codes."
    • Sep 11 2013: Fritzie,

      No offense but I have written so many mission statements but unless it is backed up with policy, strategy, and tactics, it is only sales propaganda. It also needs people willing to support those policies - even withstanding the "slings and arrows of outrageous parents"
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        Sep 11 2013: I understand this. I don't think mission statements are very meaningful. I notice that Harvard University, for example, no longer has one.

        But the purpose of education has been discussed so often at every school and everywhere else with resulting articulations very much like these, so I thought rather than reinvent the wheel, I would share some of these popular formulations.
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        Sep 14 2013: Wayne I very much agree about Mission statements tending to be sales platitudes. Walk the talk is seldom seen in the halls of our institutions of "higher' learning. Follow the money to the bottom line and we find that the priorities usually prove to be whatever is good for the corporation and it's current organic units who maintain a form of artificial intelligence by serving on committees and boards. ie increase the endowment, protect prerogatives, enhance prestige and protect it's alumni from competition from anyone who did not pay their dues to the local alma mater.
        • Sep 14 2013: Could not agree more. Had a colleague of mine who did his undergraduate at Stanford and graduate work at Yale. He told me he should have reversed it. We did an analysis and Yale got most of its endowment from undergraduates, mba, and law.
  • Sep 10 2013: To teach children we believe they will need to survive in the future.