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Let's Talk About the Purpose of Education

What is the point of teaching? What is the purpose of education? As you read this blog, I would like you to think about these two questions. Educators must reflect on our practice and have an understanding about what our teaching, and the education system as a whole, is trying to accomplish.

As teachers, we must understand that teaching/education is a political act. Neutral and unbiased teaching/education is a myth that has been cooked up by those who wish to diminish teaching to a transfer of knowledge, skills, and facts. As Henry Giroux (2009) states, "As a political and moral practice, education always presupposes a vision of the future in its introduction to preparation for, and legitimation of particular forms of social life, demanding answers to the questions of whose future is affected by these forms? For what ends and to what purposes do they endure?" (p. 246). If we understand that what we do as teachers is both political and moral, then we should define (along with our students/parents) what type of future we are striving for. 

When you think about the world you live in, think about the inequalities that can be perpetuated both in and out of the classroom. Students are impacted by poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and a multitude of other forms of oppression. As teachers working with these students, we cannot merely be trusted with just teaching them content. Teachers routinely support, encourage, and challenge students to be the best people they can be. 

When we recognize that the practice of teaching also involves citizenship building, we must involve students with practising democracy. We must encourage and teach student to not only value democracy, but to be active participants within it. Again, Henry Giroux (2009) demonstrates this ideal by explaining, "What separates an authoritarian from an emancipatory notion of education is whether or not education encourages and enables students to deepen their commitments to social justice, equality, and individual and social autonomy while at the same time expanding their capacities to assume public responsibility to actively participate in the very process of governing" (p. 247). Teachers and students cannot not be passive receptors of knowledge and the world they live in. We must actively engage in our world and education system as the quality of each is intricately tied to one another. 

So, what is the purpose of teaching and education for you? How are you impacted by these issues and what is the overall goal you have for your students as they engage with the world around them? I would love to have the chance to engage in a discussion with those reading this. Feel free to comment on this blog or hit me up on twitter (@DanScratch03)! I'm always looking to learn from great people!

Works Cited:

GIROUX, H.: (2009). “La pedagogía crítica y el éxito académico de todos y todas”. En FLECHA GARCÍA, R. (Coord.) Pedagogía Crítica del S. XXI [monográfico en línea]. Revista Electrónica Teoría de la Educación: Educación y Cultura en la Sociedad de la Información. Vol. 10, nº 3. Universidad de Salamanca [Fecha de consulta: dd/mm/aaaa].


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