The goal of education…

After this week’s online #edchat, debating the goals of education, I asked my 11 year olds to write down what they think the goal of education is. I loved that they didn’t bat an eyelid at the question! These were some of their quick responses…
  • To learn (Jasmine)
  • To expand the way we think (Josh)
  • Taking on challenges and learning things that will affect your future (Dean)
  • To learn lessons in life (Sasha)
  • To support our future (Zac)
  • To get the tools we need for the future (Gabe)
  • To get a profession (Amy)
  • To experience things and find out what you’re good at (Emma)
  • To get people to enjoy life, study interesting things and even use it in your future (Jay)
  • To learn to be successful in life (Amy.F)
  • To learn, so we won’t be stupid (Lele) (!)
  • To keep human knowledge forever by passing it down to following generations (Matthew)
  • To learn so you can grow up to do something that may help others (Gemma)

As a  PYP school, we emphasise inquiry and focus on promoting higher order thinking, through powerful central ideas and a concept based curriculum. In the few years since we first implemented the PYP, we’ve really seen our students’ thinking develop. The more they are exposed to big ideas and encouraged to engage them with them, the more they ‘wow’ us with the the depth of their thinking and the way they articulate it. I wonder if they would have answered the same way, a few years back. I wonder what they would have thought of the question! I wonder what they’ll be like in another 5 years…

I love Emma’s idea that a goal of education is to find out what you’re good at. It reminded me of something I heard in a TED talk I listened to the other day. In his talk on teaching kids to be entrepeneurs, Cameron Herold says it’s a shame that kids are given tutors in the areas they’re not good at. How much better would it be if they had extra coaching in the things they’re  talented at and passionate about?!

Which response appeals to you?

10 thoughts on “The goal of education…

  1. Great responses, almost hard to believe they’re from 11-year-olds. I like Zac’s response. To me, education is about discovering ourselves and the world around us, in a fun and inquisitive way, so that we can constantly learn and grow to reach our full potential, both in terms of ourselves and our contributions to others.


  2. Thanks for collecting and posting these! What fun to see what 11-year-olds think about education! I love the last part of Jay’s response: “even use it in your future”!!!!! So glad he recognizes the possibilities! Please share these with your faculty. It might inspire others to ask the same question!


  3. I don’t know if the TED lecturer made the point, but in the pursuit of excellence a tutor in the subject about which you are passionate and at which you excel is essential. See the top musicians, mathematicians, rabbis, etc, etc. Alas education today is about passing exams (hence the tutors in the weak subjects) and not about striving for excellence for its own sake.


  4. These are all great responses. At his age, I had the same idea as Matthew, that knowledge needs to be passed on. Now, I probably feel more like Josh, that education should expand the way we think. With regard to the coaching, I think some children are lucky enough to find people who will help them with their passions. I do think that Cameron Herold’s idea of coaching for weak areas is a good one. I have no interest in sport because I was no good at most of the sports I did at school. When I had coaching in fencing and tennis, it spurred an interest because it showed me that I could succeed in some sports. Such coaching does need to be sustained and sustainable, if it’s going to be effective, though. It’s worth pointing out to your students that adults also have equally varied ideas about what the goal of education is or should be… as the #edchat discussion highlighted!


  5. Thanks for the comments. I’m enjoying the conversation!
    Colin, I agree… I used to think like Matthew, now I think like Josh. I wrote a post called ‘I used to think, now I think’ a while ago, which highlighted the changes in my thinking as education has changed… or perhaps it’s ME who’s changed 🙂


  6. This made me smile. It would be great to compare this with what 6 year olds think and what 17 year olds think as well. Perhaps it’ll be a first day of school questionnaire question for my juniors.


  7. Emma’s response stood out to me too! That is what learning in the school setting should be. An opportunity to be exposed to a lot of different learning, content, and discovery so that students can find out where their passions lie. Excellent responses! As I compared the answers to the answers my students gave, it is obvious to me that our schools look very different. The answers my students gave centered around testing and getting into a good college. Your students answers reflected a school where inquiry and discovery is encouraged with the emphasis on learning and the process. I hope more schools begin to look like that!


  8. I’ve always loved the idea of tutoring and extra help for what you are passionate about and love to do. With kids we are always trying to fill in the holes. One of the luxuries of being “grown-up” is that “if you don’t like to dance then you don’t have to do it.”

    So helping kids know who they are and find their passions is a true goal for education.
    the basic goals are 1. teaching, conveying the culture of the past. 2. understanding themselves and their place in the world and their responsibilities to community i.e. socialization. 3. readiness for the future.

    In an era of the digital revolution all three goals present big issues for educators.

    (L0ve your blog) – Josie


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