What Is the Purpose of Education?


From religous to civic to industrial aims, the purpose of education has changed with the times, and varying public sentiment continues to reflect a diversity of agendas for public education. The July 2012 issue of the Educaton Update newsletter explores this theme in the article, “What Is the Purpose of Education?

In the article Jonathan Cohen, cofounder and president of the National School Climate Center, points out “a paradox in our preK–12 schools and within teacher education. Parents and teachers want schooling to support children’s ability to become lifelong learners who are able to love, work, and act as responsible members of the community. Yet, we have not substantially integrated these values into our schools or into the training we give teachers.”

James Harvey, senior fellow at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, says the most significant skill young people can develop in the 21st century is “the same skill that served them well in prior centuries: a mind equipped to think, the most important work skill of them all.”

Purpos/ed, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, has been collecting responses to this central question, and encourages you to add your voice to the mix.

How would you respond? What is the purpose of education? Are schools set up to fulfill it?

(Click on the image in this post for a PDF of this infographic.)