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Purposes of Education

Why do we educate? What are the end results of an education for students?  This philsophical question has been discussed for thousands of years, but is still relevant in a consideration of 21st century learning.  Is the purpose of education to prepare students for work in changing economies?  To build positive and caring relationships?  To contribute to civil, inclusive and democratic society in diverse communities?  To address social injustice? Some or all of the above?  What lessons can we learn in terms of the purposes of education from considering the history of education?  And how might we learn from all these sources so that when new forms of education are proposed or initiated, we might consider the end results worthwhile, and ensure that the pedagogy, learning approaches and environments are designed to reach the goals we want to meet? 


Boateng, P. (2003). Every child matters. Presented to Parliament by the Chief Secretary of the Treasury by Command of Her Majesty. London: TSO. [Report based around the five key outcomes that children and young people think matter most to their well-being.] PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Coulter, D. L. & Wiens, J. R. (Eds.). (2008). Why do we educate? Renewing the conversation, volume one. Malden, MA: National Society for the Study of Education: distributed by Blackwell Publishing.

Ferrero, D.J. (2011). The humanities: Why such a hard sell? Educational Leadership, 68(6), 22-26. 

Kohn, A. (2003). What does it mean to be well-educated? Principal Leadership, 3(7).

Ravitch, D. (2011). Keynote address, AASA 2011 National Conference on Education (Denver, Colorado, February 18, 2011). PDF file; Acrobat Reader required. 

Smith, M.K. (2004). Nel Noddings, the ethics and care of education. In infed: the encyclopaedia of informal education. 

Tan, M. (2010, March 13). The false hard-soft dichotomy in education. Milton-Tan on Design-Creativity [blog].

Teachers College Record. (2010). Globalization, education, and citizenship. The Voice. [David Hansen, Teachers College professor, talks about globalization and education]. Multimedia icon (video camera) 

TED. (2011). TEDxTC - Peter Benson - Sparks: How youth thrive. TEDx Talks. Multimedia icon (video camera)   

White, J. (2011, April 15). If the young aspire only to fame and fortune, where does that leave our 19th century fact-driven curriculum? Times Educational Supplement. 

Wiggins, G. (2011). A diploma worth having. Educational Leadership, 68(6), 28-33.

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