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Old 02-11-2011, 09:01 AM
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Default The Purpose of Schooling

I've been meaning to pose this question to my fellow Avatarians for a while, but it wasn't until I saw Mune's [now old] signature that I decided to finally do it.

I've been studying education a lot in my university classes lately and how it ought to be improved. (I'm considering becoming a teacher, or at least working in that field.) One of the very first questions I was asked in a particular class was "Why do we have schools?" Perhaps it seems obvious at first, but it actually merits some deep thought.

Some answers that came up in the class:
-Schools prepare us with the necessary skills to get a career and earn a salary to live on.
-Without schooling, a society's structure would not transmit itself to the new generation and would eventually collapse, thus order is kept. (This is one of John Dewey's arguments in a very rough nutshell.)
-Schools foster civic engagement and teach one the laws, rights, and responsibilities of living in a given country (i.e. American students are taught the Bill of Rights and such).
-Schools teach one how to think critically and are important purely for the sake of developing minds.

So what I'm curious to hear from everyone is what they think schooling's purpose currently is and whether it should be that way. I imagine this discussion might turn into how schooling could be made better for the present and for the future, and that's perfectly fine.

Keep in mind - "school" is not synonymous with "education," for learning takes place outside of school as much as it does within it (if not more so). Families, religious congregations, public libraries, etc. are all institutions where education occurs.

Last edited by Mune; 02-17-2011 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Just fixing the fact that my current signature isn't the one this post was referring to: [Edited by Mune]
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:06 AM
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A school's purpose should be a place for education. I agree, education comes from many sources: school is one of these sources. The two may not be synonymous, but they're certainly related. They're directly related. Now, schools (referring to colleges and universities) are thought of as either places to learn just enough to obtain a degree, or to better one's self in an area where he/she wishes to pursue a career (my case, for example).

Now, bettering yourself is fine. But education is the primary purpose. The whole idea about school being an "experience" where you "socialize" and "find yourself" came about when people got lazy, frankly. School should not be a place to make friends. Ever. It can be a place where you happen to meet other people, later continuing a friendship that doesn't associate itself with one's schooling, but the two should never, ever, EVER be interrelated. It's unfortunate that it's become that way today. Most kids just don't care anymore.
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Old 02-11-2011, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Woodsprite View Post
A school's purpose should be a place for education. I agree, education comes from many sources: school is one of these sources. The two may not be synonymous, but they're certainly related. They're directly related. Now, schools (referring to colleges and universities) are thought of as either places to learn just enough to obtain a degree, or to better one's self in an area where he/she wishes to pursue a career (my case, for example).

Now, bettering yourself is fine. But education is the primary purpose. The whole idea about school being an "experience" where you "socialize" and "find yourself" came about when people got lazy, frankly. School should not be a place to make friends. Ever. It can be a place where you happen to meet other people, later continuing a friendship that doesn't associate itself with one's schooling, but the two should never, ever, EVER be interrelated. It's unfortunate that it's become that way today. Most kids just don't care anymore.
IMO schools are for both. Learning social skills is just as important for the futurue as learning skills in the "3 Rs".
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:06 PM
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Ugh, I spend the majority of my day contemplating where my education/schooling is going...

Quite honestly, I’ve got some very firm beliefs when it comes to schooling in this day and age. I have so much to rant about, that I will only write the tip of the iceberg just for the sake of time.

What really fries my nerves, is when I hear about subcultures... Or ‘sub-groups’ being developed. Different places call these groups different things. But at my school, we call the different groups “Chavs” – “Scenes” – “Nerds” – Well- I personally don’t- I’ve created my own subcategories and ranks.

The point I’m trying to make is that it seems with every year that passes, schools are focusing less and less on education- And more upon the social aspects. Sit down with a wise man, perhaps an old man/woman that is close to you, and they’ll share stories of how- “If anyone so much as breathed in a way the teacher didn’t like, he smacked you with a cane.”

Although I’m heavily against subjectively-selected-abuse. (If that makes sense, punishing a child for something the teacher personally doesn’t like.) – I will enforce the point that school is meant for learning. Nothing more. It’s meant for the maturing of minds, and the passing of information from one generation to the next.

I passively hear conversations about how Jimmy dumped his girlfriend by a text. I really don’t care. I whole-heartedly agree with my grandparents on the idea of “They should bring back the cane.”

NOW- Back to the point (and this has relevance to my signature)- Zenit and I were discussing how- In the modern age, you can be the smartest person in the world, but if you’ve no written qualifications on paper- You’re nothing. We’re constantly told that if one leaves school to forge his own life- His life will be terrible. It’s simply not true- It depends on the individual.

We got to a point (Zenit and myself) at which we were both thinking the same thing. “I say all of this. I point out all of these imperfections in the educational system- But I don’t step in. I don’t act upon my beliefs. I’m just the person sitting by the riverbank, throwing abuse at passing debris.”

Education has gone to pot. I have two teachers, perhaps three that genuinely make their subjects look enjoyable. The rest have just given up. They do the job for the money and nothing more. [Or well, those are my personal observations, of course I can’t speak for them]

Our Chemistry teacher for example, is absolutely nuts. Today for example- He told us “This chemical is highly flammable.” – We said “How were we supposed to know that?” to which he replied “What, you’ve not seen the test before?” and we all shook our heads.

He bursts into the chemical cupboards, retrieves the chemical, pours it onto his hand and sets it alight. After muttering a few chosen words to help the pain suppression- He finished with “Okay, you see now?”.

Just- Little things like this enhance the experience so much. With this chemistry teacher- You can really feel the emotion behind it. With all/most of my other teachers- They speak with one-toned voices and seem to hate it.

I’ve gone off-topic a lot here... My basic and concluding point is “School is no longer for learning. I can understand the principle behind it. School is based on such a fantastic principle. Let’s pass information to the younger generations. It’s a pity that social matters seem to come long before the education does.”

Again- These are my personal observations/opinions. I can’t speak for every school, for some people here- There maybe no talking in lessons, or swearwords said just to ‘look cool’ in the café etc.
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  #5  
Old 02-11-2011, 04:31 PM
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Highschools more about the social aspect than the actual learning. I slept through most of Highschool and still graduated top third.
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:50 PM
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I have to agree with Isard, I could sit through all my classes with out retaining one bit of information and at the end of the year still be smarter than 90% of the other students.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:41 PM
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isard View Post
Highschools more about the social aspect than the actual learning. I slept through most of Highschool and still graduated top third.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Советский медве View Post
I have to agree with Isard, I could sit through all my classes with out retaining one bit of information and at the end of the year still be smarter than 90% of the other students.
Same, I didn't try at all and graduated top 5%. While I agree that school's ultimate purpose doesn't involve making friends, it's certainly a necessary side effect. Ultimately, the idea behind education is to prepare the children of the world for the real world/adulthood. Frankly, this isn't happening. Societal advancement should start at the foundation: children shouldn't be left behind, and people with intelligence are settling for less than their full potential. This starts with the teachers: nothing is more important than having a mentor as a child. It starts from the old saying "it takes a village to raise a child."
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:45 PM
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Aquaplant - that pretty much summed up my opinions in the matter.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isard View Post
Highschools more about the social aspect than the actual learning. I slept through most of Highschool and still graduated top third.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Советский медве View Post
I have to agree with Isard, I could sit through all my classes with out retaining one bit of information and at the end of the year still be smarter than 90% of the other students.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man in Black View Post
Same, I didn't try at all and graduated top 5%.
This is exactly what I'm talking about.^ It shouldn't be about "getting the grade" or "graduating with high honors". It should be about the principle of learning. Highschools have become more about the "social aspect" because not a damn idiot in the system cares one speck anymore.

They're comparable to penal colonies now. It's sad.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mune View Post
...
Sorry if I made you rant, but thanks for sharing all that! I agree with what you and Zenit said on how it's not true when one's told that leaving school will result in a terrible life. You can make something of yourself either way. And the way some schools operate and treat students today, I'm not surprised when I hear of students wanting to leave. Ideally IMO, schools ought to give students every possible opportunity they have to succeed; many today are almost like dead-ends in life.


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Originally Posted by Aquaplant View Post
...
I've seen that video before, and it's great. Lot of great ideas in there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodsprite View Post
It shouldn't be about "getting the grade" or "graduating with high honors". It should be about the principle of learning.
Agreed. School should not be about learning how to game the system to get the highest qualifications. Genuine learning and engagement are important. (And thinking about that brings me back to Mune's chemistry teacher.) What you said, Woodsprite, makes me think of what I read in a book called "Doing School," how you can be one of the most honored students in a school without having truly learned anything in depth. Maybe I'm taking your post out of context but I feel the need to mention it.


I could write more but I've got to head out for a bit...
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:42 PM
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Education should be for bringing tools.

Not to modify behaviour, not to make what the teacher says strictly, not to obey rules. School should not be a mindless memory exercise or a place where to make friends.

School is a place to learn how to become an adult and live in the world -both academically and as a person.

At least, it's how it should be.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:01 AM
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snip

That about sums it up.

There are three main methods of learning - visual (learning by sight, such as reading), auditory (learning by sound, such as a lecture), and kinesthetic (learning through doing, such as experiments or projects). Schools in their current form do a decent job if you're a visual or auditory learner, but they fail for kinesthetic learners. It seems that with so many more forms of stimulus in the modern world, more and more children are becoming kinesthetic learners, but the educational system is still trying to force them into being visual and auditory learners, and when they fail, they label the child as having ADHD (which I personally don't believe in, it's become the biggest cash cow for the medical-industrial process). In many ways kinesthetic learning might not even be a new trend. I have a feeling we were all mostly kinesthetic learners back in kindergartern (everything we did was hands-on back then), and it's a form of learning that has it's benefits, as the 98% on the divergant thinking testing shows. It's also a good way of learning that builds social skills, by children learning together. The problem is that the antiquated status quo is based on classical intellectualism, of visual and auditory learning, and the medicated-conformity of kinesthetic learners that the system is not designed to handle (kinesthetic learners that the system hasn't managed to force into visual and auditory learners, that is). This is wrong. Not only are we robbing children of their childhood by turning them into drugged-up zombies, but we are selling out their potential to learn.

I find it ironic, and a bit hypocrtical that schools always want you to "be yourself," even though they are the most conformity-demanding institutions in the world (up their with prisons, as Woodsprite says). They only want you to be yourself if you fit within the status quo's definition of normality.

"Be different...but not too different."
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Last edited by Tsyal Makto; 02-12-2011 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:22 AM
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I think the purpose is simple, but we've fallen off our tracks. We send our youth to school because they are the future. And we want a better future. It's like an investment, which in itself doesn't bother me. What bothers me is what we're investing in. We don't have a real clear vision of what "better" is. And we don't have an effective way of reaching our societal goals, whatever vague visions those are.

To cure this, I look to people like Sir Ken Robinson - the man in the video posted above. But I also think we need something more - a complete paradigm shift. One that is much more open to this kind of thought.

I posted this in another thread but here it is:

Quote:
“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” - Albert Einstein
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Old 02-12-2011, 03:45 AM
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I agree with most of what has been said in the thread thus far. Education seems to fulfill the purpose of giving the population a general set of skills at the primary and secondary level (up to high school) while post secondary education seems to be a little more focused in a particular field.

One thing that I didn't seem mentioned (much) in the thread is that schools now seem to have a larger role in the raising of children. This seems especially true in neighborhoods with a large amount of broken families where one parent or only grandparent(s) are present in the child's life. This could effect the quality of education if resources are being used to address such an issue.

I think the social aspects of school are also important. One skill that many companies look for in an employee is the ability to work with others on projects or as part of a team. Schools should help prepare students to interact with others in such scenarios. I believe they call it leadership skill building, or something to that effect.
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