Jul 17, 2020

Friday Reminder of the Purpose of Education


“The needs of society should determine the work of the school.”

— Colonel Francis Parker

“The needs of society should determine the work of the school. The supreme need of society is ideal citizenship. Ideal citizenship demands for the individual the highest degree of knowledge, skill, power and service.”

— Colonel Francis Wayland Parker

Just reflect for a few minutes upon this quote and the larger concept that the progressive educational pioneer Parker was trying to share with fellow educators over a century ago. The real work of our educational system must be grounded in the needs of society. Education must be externally facing, interruptive and experiential, not be cool or hip or innovative, but to change the course of the world. Isn’t that the point? Last time I checked, the world is not heading in the right direction.

We are knee deep in a world of hurt, pain, and challenges right now. There are least five or six major cultural shifts taking place that will change our world, and our lives, permanently. As my good friend and writer Bob Gray shared in response to a tweet of ours:

“The pandemic (science), #BLM (American history and sociology), economic collapse (math and finance) and election year (civics) have handed the mindful educator the most bountiful experiential teaching and learning opportunity in the history of American education.”

-Bob Gray @bobgray

We are in the midst of a cultural inflection point the likes of we have never seen. Education must change as a result. Our work as educators must be to use this opportunity to recreate our educational system to be the most responsive, enterprising, and relevant experience a young person can find in order to meet the needs of the new world.

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