Friday, May 14, 2010

The Five Goals of Education

In developing my own paradigm on the ideal methods of education, my attention has turned to the purpose and goals of education. What about education is valuable? Why do we desire to educate children at all? The purpose of education is simply this: education is the means by which a person is taught the things they need to know to live life well. Any form of learning that better equips a person for practical life is of worth. Those methods of learning that best prepare a person for practical life are the most worthwhile. In order to achieve that end, it seems that there are five different goals that a complete educational program must seek to achieve. These goals are presented in order of priority. Though there is unavoidably some overlap between each of the goals, the ones presented first are the most important and the ones presented last are the least vital (though still quite indispensible).

1. Moral and Spiritual Indoctrination
In order to live life well, it is unavoidable that one must define what is meant by living life well. Without a philosophical framework that serves as the foundation of a person's worldview, whatever knowledge is gleaned exists in a decontextualized form. Decontextualized knowledge is useless for providing meaningful direction in life. Therefore, before any knowledge is useful, a person must be instilled with a sound moral, metaphysical and epistemological foundation, upon which all further learning will be supported. Apart from sound morals and a unified life purpose, a nation cannot thrive or, in many cases, even survive for a prolonged period. Apart from individuals being properly educated in the ways of Godly morality and a Godly vision for life, no society can hold common sound morals and a unified life purpose. The first goal of education, then, must be to properly indoctrinate young minds so that they understand their duties in society within the context of Biblical teaching.

2. Complex Communication
In order to properly interact with people, to understand ideas and be able to effectively communicate, it is necessary that education equip a person with the skills needed to engage in complex communication. The ability to comprehend that which is conveyed through speech, imagery and written word is an indispensible part of this. Well-developed verbal skills are essential for being able to learn, being able to communicate with others, being able to relate to others, being able to function and excel in the modern economy and being able to clearly and concisely articulate one's opinions on a given matter. The ability to communicate at a high level necessitates not only sound verbal skills, but also the ability to process and interpret non-verbal information, especially since in-person communication primarily consists of non-verbal information such as unspoken context, body language, facial expression and tonality.

3. Expert Thinking
Another crucial skill that enables people to live life well is the skill of expert thinking. The ability to cognitively process a variety of problems and challenges and figure out practical solutions is a necessary skill for handling the dynamic array of challenges of which life consists. While some problems may be routine and can easily be solved by applying simple heurisitics, people are often faced with challenges and tasks unlike anything previously dealt with. A person's problem-solving skills are dependent both on their possession of applicable knowledge and on their ability to utilize expert thinking to determine the best way to apply such knowledge. For this reason, it is vital that education teach a person how to mentally approach challenges and figure them out. It is not enough to simply know a few answers, instead it is vital that a person be able to think outside the box and figure things out for themself. Expert thinking is extremely helpful both in the job market and in day-to-day living.

4. General Body of Knowledge
Typically, this is regarded as one of the main goals of education. While it isn't the most crucial goal, there is no doubt that having a broad knowledge of various topics is quite practically useful. Generalized knowledge is extremely useful whenever one encounters a new piece of information. With a sound mental framework for contextualizing new information, it can easily be processed and added to one's long-term memory bank. The broader one's knowledge of any given subject, the more easily new information can be considered, processed and mentally filed. For this reason, once one has well-developed communication skills and cognitive thinking skills, it is quite useful to develop a large breadth of knowledge, with at least a little bit of familiarly with each subject that is encountered in daily life.

5. Specialized Body of Knowledge
While possessing a sound foundation of general knowledge is quite useful, it is also essential for a person to possess at least one specialized body of knowledge, with a greater depth of understanding and familiarity of that subject. Having a large quantity of specialized information in a field highly demanded by the modern economy will ensure that good jobs are relatively easy to acquire and simple to retain. Specialized knowledge is also something that is naturally developed related to a person's hobbies or personal interests. The more effort that is put into learning about any specific topic or pursuit, the broader one's knowledge of the topic and the greater one's mastery of that topic will be. One of the goals of education is to prepare a person for life by helping them develop sufficient mastery over fields that are applicable to their life.

Before considering the best and more useful methods and means of providing education, it is necessary to consider these five goals of education, and how each aligns with the overall purpose of education.

3 comments:

  1. this is really good, and clearly explains the fundamentals of education

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  2. This is good.. now, I can answer my assignment about the Paradigm Shift in Education. Thanks to this !

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