Monday, January 10, 2005

The end of education

I have been rather displeased with myself over the last several months because I lacked the focus to learn anything of much substance. I read few books, because I couldn't decide which ones were worth reading. My thoughts were dull and scattered. So I decided I needed to pick something to study and study it.

I considered making this topic financial planning, which is what DOB is about to embark upon further study of, but acquiring a CFP didn't seem nearly as useful to me, and the required studies were not intriguing at all. So, although it would be fun to study things together, I decided to pick something different.

I finally decided on the topic of education. This is a topic that is relevant to my life as a homeschooling mother. (A career I consider myself to have already embarked upon. After all, today we will have lessons in Bible, pre-reading skills, music, physical education, and eating bananas with our fingers. On the last we still have a lot of work to do.) But, given sufficient freedom it can encompass almost anything of interest to me and provides lots of room for abstract philosophizing.

It's ironic, because the part of my former job I generally liked the least was doing research on education. But those were specific, concrete topics, like "How effective is value-added assessment at determining teacher quality?" or "How is No Child Left Behind being implemented in Washington schools?" Way too practical for me. Plus, immensely frustrating because I just felt that the whole system was wrong from stem to stern, so there was little point in finding miniscule areas for improvement.

Now I can start at the very beginning. Education really boils down to two questions: What is the end goal of education--what kind of person do we want education to produce? What is the means of education--what are the best techniques to achieve that kind of a person?

Lots of room for abstract theorizing there. Some of which will probably make its way here, so please bear with me.


Marsha Louise said...

I sometimes wonder if we place too much emphasis on "education" as something separate from the rest of life. After all, it encompasses everything from learning to chew your food and tie your shoelaces to mastering calculus and rhetoric.

Isn't "educating a whole person" basically the same thing as "raising a child," and shouldn't that give us some idea of how much variety there is in the world of "education"?

I think you're right that the reason education policy is sometimes so tedious is because "education" as most people know it today is such a restrictive and narrow concept.

Queen of Carrots said...

Hmmm, yes. Stay tuned for pertinent quotes from Chesterton (naturally).