Open Thinkering


The purpose of education? It isn’t this…

I’m reading David Carr’s Making Sense of Education this morning, who on page 14 quotes P.H. Hirst, The curriculum: educational implications of social and economic change (London, 1974). The latter states that education should be,

…based on the nature and significance of knowledge itself, and not on the predilections of pupils, the demands of society, or the whims of politicians.

I don’t think I could disagree more with that, really! Knowledge is not an objective thing that is out there for us to grasp, it is formed by precisely the things that he wants to remove from the educational process – the interests and desires of pupils, the current societal demands, and the need for politicians to implement reforms to ensure relevance. Instead, education should be based on the changing nature of conceptions of knowledge and how they are formed through interactions between the various agencies and people involved in the educational process – government, schools, other bodies, teachers and learners.

One thought on “The purpose of education? It isn’t this…

  1. I agree that the idea of an absolute body of knowledge is rubbish. Defining the purpose of education though is a major political discussion. This has for the moment been taken over by the government with its application of a statutory curriculum.

    This too is unsatisfactory because it begs the question of what is important. Laying down the law for a standard for all denies the importance of individuality and the interaction between individual teacher and individual child.

    The government approach is top down. Real quality starts with the child and persuading them to learn.

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