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Education: the two most important things.

The Two Most Important Things

Might it be said that the two most important things that education has to do contradict each other. On the one hand, education is responsible for passing on the collected wisdom, the values, the customs and the way of life of a society, from the older generation to the younger generation. In this sense its fundamental role is to provide continuity and stability. On the other hand, education has to be the means for changing society, for challenging its values and collective wisdoms in pursuit of a better world. This means that education has to preserve and change society at the same time.

The job of being a teacher involves precisely this contradiction. A teacher has to socialise the student into the community, the society and the world, and a teacher has to encourage students to think for themselves, to question her society and the world, and to consider carefully how one might try to change the world and make it a better place.

The concept of Education.

‘To start, it needs to be recognized that there is far from full agreement among philosophers of education about how the concept of education itself ought to be understood. John Dewey stressed that education was “coextensive” with life itself, and he also identified it with growth. Many thinkers working in the Continental philosophical tradition have identified education with a similar but not quite identical concept, “formation” (or bildung); some writers treat “education” and “schooling” as synonyms, while others insist that some things that take place in formal schooling are not educational and that some things that are educational take place outside of schools; and many scholars have pointed out that education provides individuals with the skills and knowledge to foster development of their autonomy or rationality, while others point to education’s role in developing important social traits such as citizenship.’

(Phillips, 2014, xxvii)


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Books > Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy