The education debates continue with a remarkable paucity of concern about what education should be about, who should decide what it should be about and to what end it serves society.
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says education is “to provide schooling for or to train by formal instruction and supervised practice esp. in a skill, trade or profession;” “to develop mentally, morally or aesthetically esp. by instruction;” and “to persuade or condition to feel, believe or act in a desired way or to accept something as desirable.”
Our citizenry largely opts for the first option: training and practice for entering the workforce.
Political and corporate leadership pushes hard for the third option: persuade and condition us to accept and follow their political and economic agenda. Coupled with the first option, this leads to an education model designed simply to prepare a capable and easily controllable workforce.
Option 2 — mental, moral or aesthetic instruction — is embraced by a small coterie of intellectuals, ethicists, artists and, fortunately, by many dedicated, brave and underpaid teachers pushing uphill against the powerful forces that constitute an education system on their own: promoting the values of consumption and indolence through advertising and entertainment.
Be wary when you hear or read about “education reform.”