What Is The Role Of Education?

Education used to be concerned with passing knowledge from one generation to the next so students could learn from the achievements and mistakes of the past. Education today, however, is more focussed on preparing students to get good grades, pass exams, find jobs and contribute to the economy. 

The role of education

The traditional role of education was to disseminate what was known so students could learn from, and add to, the collective reservoir of knowledge.

The approach changed over the years as learning about the historical roots of a subject lost its allure and teaching the skills needed to succeed in a market driven economy gained in popularity.

But such a change in direction raises many questions: Should students learn for the sake of learning? Should students focus solely on passing exams? Should students be more aware of global responsibilities? Should students play a greater role in society? Should education be focussed on economic matters?

The role of education in exploring knowledge for its own sake is on the wane as consideration of the past cedes to a preoccupation with the present.

Education is progressively seen as an adjunct to government economic policy, as it is increasingly identified with capitalism and its wealth creation agenda.

The shift in emphasis is driven by policies that link education to business as a way to create jobs, generate profit and build prosperity.

The need to prepare students for the jobs market has triumphed over the need to equip them for a world in which they learn to think freely and fend for themselves.

The reason, of course, is that the aim is to focus on the quick wins of good grades and exam results rather than engage in reflective thinking that lasts a lifetime.

The challenge

The challenge is to ensure the relevance and value of knowledge and no amount of preparation for a vanishing jobs market will address the imbalance.

The ability to think in an original way that enables clear thought and independent judgement is crucial for students entering a digitally driven world.

The education that students need is changing at a pace previously unknown and the ability to learn, unlearn, relearn and interpret information in different and imaginative ways is vital.

New skills such as the ability to reflect deeply and engage with a subject in a world that encourages short-term interruption and long-term disruption are essential.

The best way to achieve such an outcome is to ensure students are steeped in, and committed to, a love of learning regardless of the subject area or external demands.

Concern about how technology is changing everything abounds but there is an equal and urgent need to revise how students are taught and what they are taught.

SO, the role of education in sharing knowledge is vital and should be protected against the inclination to use education as a servant of the economy.