Friday, August 29, 2014

What is the main purpose of education?

I read this interesting article which raises some very interesting questions about current academic environment in USA, but I guess same is true for any country's education system today. Today's education system is heavily oriented towards acquiring skills required to get a good job, they are becoming like vocational courses. The cost of education is very high today so it seems a very obvious to think that after going through this process of attending schools and college one should be able to secure a job which can pay off all the investment. I am exclusively taking here about school and college education, not about any other form of education. Actually one can ask, what is the real purpose of education? The question is very general and different people might answer it differently. For someone education might mean acquiring a new skill, for some it might mean acquiring knowledge, for some it might mean getting a degree so that they can get a good job and social status. There can not be any doubt that one of the major purpose of education is to acquire the skills which can make us capable to secure some job to survive in this world. But I guess the real crux of the question is, is this becoming the sole purpose of today's education? Are we trying to produce good workers, managers, CEOs but somehow ignoring that we also need good humans?

In a true sense education is a continuous process, we start learning new things since we come into this world and keep on discovering something new, learning something new until we depart from here, that is why let's focus only on school and college education. There is not doubt that today's education system is much better than what we had in past, concerned people should be given credit for their efforts to improve the system. I personally believe that my kids are exposed to much better education system than I was. The system is very student friendly, it tries to protest interests of students. Curriculum is heavily biased towards job market, actually this is not a problem one needs to acquire vocational skills, but at the same time we need to train students to deal with many other important issues. Today the world is facing many problems like religious fundamentalism, stress, depression, lack of compassion and kindness towards other human beings, unequal distribution of wealth, political polarization, etc. These all issues are very important and affect our society in many ways but unfortunately current education system doesn't take any strong steps to educate its students about many of these topics. I also agree that there are many other resources where any person can get educated about these topics, but because of presence of internet and its easy accessibility it has become very easy to target today's youth and misguide them. At the same time many parents also have become so busy that they can't devote enough time to educate their kids about these topics. So in this changed scenario there is much more responsibility on our education system not only to produce trained and skilled workers but also sensible humans who are good citizens of this world. If our education system can instill compassion and tolerance in its students, if it can stress importance of equality, if it can educate them about their rights and responsibilities then we will have very good and sensible citizens of world coming out of it.

According to me there is no easy solution for this problem, as I said current education system is much better than what we had in past but changed scenario of our society has made its job much more difficult and complicated. What I feel today is that parents or guardians of any student, who are very important and critical component of this education system are not doing their part. Today's parents have many reasons starting from their business due to work, day to day stress of modern day life, pressure to fit into society's definition of successful life, etc. One can definitely argue if all these reasons are valid or not but definitely they are limiting their involvement in their child's education.This is why I am saying that we can't depend on all parents any more to educate their child in unbiased way. First they don't have enough time and normally they try to instill the same set of beliefs in their children, I agree that this is not wrong in every case but this is also not how we should be educating our kids. Kids need to know all sides of any problem or issue so that they can think of solutions to the problems independently which they face in their life. We lack free and independent thinkers in new generation, it is not that we had too many of them in previous generations but with so much easy availability of information I expect more of them but somehow that is not happening. I hope that current education also focuses more on overall general development of students along with technical skill development. We need leaders as well as free thinkers, we need entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, artists who are also rational and balanced people. This is very challenging task and here is no set formula to achieve all this but I believe that experts from education field will come up with some design which will allow us to build a very strong and independent student community which will contribute to make this world much more beautiful and peaceful place to live. I hope parents start realizing their responsibility and playing their part seriously in this whole process. I believe that the main purpose of education is to produce intelligent, compassionate, skillful and peace loving citizens of this world and I really hope that we will be able to achieve that one day.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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