“Education promotes equality and lifts people out of poverty. It teaches children how to become good citizens. Education is not just for a privileged few, it is for everyone. It is a fundamental human right”.
One of the questions to be asked when conducting an appraisal of any education system is, “what has been included in the curriculum?” The answer will beg the questions: who or what decided this, why, what is the intended result and how will we judge the level of any success achieved?
The contents of our curricula demonstrate the types of knowledge and range of attributes we want our students to acquire, as we consider them to be of most value in our society; at least according to those who decide what goes in and what stays out.
Underlying all of this is the overarching question: what is the purpose of education? There is no simple answer to this, or perhaps more accurately, there is no single answer to this question.
From the perspective of professional educators, the most obvious answer would seem to be: ‘To determine what our graduates need to know and the personal attributes they must demonstrate to ensure passage into the next phase in their lives.’
Mind the Gap
One of the perennial schisms in the United Kingdom can be found in the gap that exists between our education system and the world of business. Broadly speaking, those who inhabit the realms of industry, finance, retail and commerce take issue with how schools, colleges and universities are preparing and presenting what business regards as its prospective workforce. To put it bluntly, the business lobby is largely of the opinion that our education system is failing to produce candidates with the practical skills and psychological attitudes that they consider essential to ongoing success and career fulfilment.
This opinion is at the core of a debate that has raged for many years and will undoubtedly continue to smoulder malevolently for many more. Of course, this debate begs a number of questions: what is the objective of our education system? What role does education play within our society? Is it the sole purpose of our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to provide business with attitudinally appropriate, suitably skilled employees?
“The first condition of education is being able to put someone to wholesome and meaningful work”.
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Michael Stewart has extensive experience in the writing, directing and delivery of education programmes across a range of media. More recently as a member of the board and management team of the Interactive Design Institute, Michael has fulfilled a wide variety of functions including the development of pedagogy for online delivery.