What is the purpose of education? This question is constantly ringing in my head with every decision I make within the classroom. This question, inevitably leads to more: What is the purpose of this lesson? How will this idea affect students? Am I empowering students?....and it goes on.
I believe that asking these types of questions is essential for teachers to be critically reflective of what they are doing within their classrooms. Far too often teachers are led to believe that their role is to make sure that their students are prepared for the 'real world' in order to be 'competitive for the marketplace'. Though this may not sound destructive at first glance, it can have detrimental effects on our students education.
If our role as teachers is to make sure our students become employable, then we are missing and ignoring what an education truly is. When we only focus on the employable aspects of our students, then we are merely reduced to training students to succeed within the work-force. Under this ideology, we will enforce behavioural guidelines that will focus on obedience to authority, ability to complete redundant work, and dissuade students from critically engaging with the world they live in.
Teachers are not meant to train students, we are here to engage with students in a process of critical education. A truly critical education requires teachers to allow their students to question their own authority and power, allow students to have a voice in their learning process, and to prepare students to be critical thinkers that allows them to engage with, and even change, the world around them. Far too often the students who naturally challenge authority and think for themselves are the first to be punished and alienated from the classroom. Teachers must learn to end this type of pedagogy.
After all, we have to really reflect on what the purpose of education should be. It is time that we focus not on the 'training' of our students, but on what type of citizens we would like to have in our world. As a teacher, I would argue that if we had a citizenry full of critically thinking and socially aware people, we could begin to move towards a more socially just world.