Thursday, April 21, 2016

Core business

"The sole purpose of education is to get a good job." This statement is clearly absolute, but that doesn't mean that the proposition has to be automatically rejected. Not when the reasoning behind the statement is logically sound.

Education arose from a tradition from which craftsmen and merchants taught their apprentices the necessary skills of their trades. The higher the skill mastered, the more trusted the trainee grew to handle increasingly complex tasks. Apprentices were trained on the job for the job. What they chose to learn was to make them better at their jobs.

The situation has not changed. The motivation for people to get an education is still, ultimately, to be in a better position to claim a better job.  The motivation to set up an education system is primarily to raise the knowledge and skill levels of a population so that collectively it is better positioned for better paying jobs.

Without this motivation, who would go to school? Attending school delays an entire generation's employability in hope of increasing its future occupational prospects. Students delay their independence while in school, continuing to be treated like children by their teachers and parents though, biologically, they are already capable of starting and tending to their own families. What keeps them in school is the promise of a good job at the end of their studies.

Even if schools provide personal enrichment opportunities such as co-curricular and "Service-Learning" activities, these efforts are still directed at providing experiences that develop employable skills that are certified via official testimonials, attendance checklists and other documents.

Today, schools are still in the business of training, assessing, qualifying and assigning students to the jobs they are best suited for, but are also expected to play surrogate parent. This dichotomy results in schools being conflicted, forced to be both dispassionate and objective while being compassionate and empathetic at the same time. These clashing objectives make education more onerous and cumbersome than it has to be.

There is nothing wrong with seeing education's sole purpose as getting people the best employment opportunities as possible because this is what schools do. In fact, if schools dared to accept this truth, their programmes would be much more focused and much more purposeful. It would make the core business of education so much clearer for both schools and their attendees.

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