Monday, April 19, 2010

The purpose of education

What is the purpose of education?
Here are some answers people give: Be a productive citizen (i.e., employed or self-employed, or make money somehow). Go to college. Love learning. To function in the adult world (shop, pay bills, manage money, etc.)

Perhaps our most fundamental goal in educating our children is to help them become interesting people. Employable people should have these characteristics:
  • Can find information
  • Can learn new things, gain new skills
  • Work hard and smart
  • Willing to go out of comfort zone to try new things
  • Relational skills (very few jobs happen in a vaccuum)

Interesting people do these things naturally (ex: a history buff decides she likes the Civil War era. She learns everything she can about it. This leads her to volunteer at a museum by giving tours to elementary children. She starts a Civil War re-enactment group that performs for the community every year.)

The whole purpose of resumes, transcripts, references, and interviews is to prove these characteristics. (Boiled down further, the workplace's #1 question is: will you make us money? But they set out to answer that with the above skillset).

In the great education debacle ("should we do more workbooks?" "add more crafts?" "write more papers?" what makes a good education?), perhaps we're not asking the right question. What will help our children become interesting?

Throwing out "hooks" (hey kids, do you like logic puzzles? No? How about Renaissance artists? No? How about square dancing? Maybe...? Let's try it!)

Capitalizing on our children's interests, once we find one (and don't stop *trying* to find one until they turn 18; then they are on their own! lol)

Getting out and doing things of interest. Start an interest group. Volunteer somewhere. Investigate. Practice what we're learning in a practical way.

Working hard (and smart!) Doing 5 hours of digging ditches may prove a hardworker, but if he could've dug that ditch in 5mins with a machine, he's really just proved he's an idiot. Employers would rather pay for 5 mins of work than 5 hrs work - so working smart is important, too. Likewise, Hal's By-Hand Ditch Digging Company probably isn't going to get many customers - so self employed people should work smart, too.

Socializing, Networking. Learn how to talk to people to get information. Learn how to relate to people. Share your interests with others.

Math, Reading, and Writing ARE important. But these 3 things are building blocks that allow us to understand something, and then delve in to understand even more. And if you didn't catch that link above, this post was inspired by this article: Want to Get into Harvard? Spend More Time Staring at the Clouds: Rethinking the Role of Extracurricular Activities in College Admissions

I don't know *how* this idea will affect my homeschooling, because when it comes down to it, I'm pretty dern happy with workbooks (boring!). Maybe my kids will be uninteresting people someday. Or maybe they can find a good job in a vaccuum;)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sarah for writing this post. I especially like "work smart".

Having "Z" in my class this past year... I can certainly tell you... whatever you're doing... keep on doing it... she's sharp!

Your Pal, Mich