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What is the Purpose of Education?

February 1st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am very happy to see the launch today of the Purpose of Education web site, initiated by Doug Belshaw and Alec Stewart.

The recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have shown the power of social media for not just discussing politics but for mobilising. And the student protests in the UK against increases in university fees and the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance have shown a willingness by young people in the UK to act around education. However, it is clear we need a wider debate about the whole purpose of education, especially as technology is opening up new possibilities for learning.

The new website aims to kickstart that debate. “We’re going to initiate the debate, grow the community and inform key decision makers about the outcome of this movement to improve education for all. Our 3-year plan provides more information and will be updated as the movement gains momentum.”

And the site is inviting 500 word blogposts, suggesting a focus on the questions posed by Keri Facer in a keynote to the JISC Innovating e-Learning conference 2010

  1. What is your vision for the good society?
  2. What is the part that education can play in achieving that and what is the part that others need to play? Who are these others? What is/what should be their relationship to education?
  3. What are the building blocks we have in our schools and universities already that could move them towards that role?
  4. What are the building blocks outside formal education?
  5. What are the impediments to change and what causes them? And are there good reasons for these?
  6. What can I see of merit in the ideas of those who disagree with me?
  7. Do the ideas I suggest draw on the expertise and insight of others?
  8. Do the ideas I suggest offer enough benefit to outweigh the disruption that they would cause in their realisation? how would we get there?

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