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The Purpose in Education

October 2, 2012

The review of educational startups was interesting, but not inspiring.  I just finished the second week assignment for  EdStartup 101, and I enjoyed looking at the different companies, and got a few ideas, but really wasn’t blown away.  Maybe it’s because I come from a background in marriage and family therapy, but I found that a lot of education has little substance, or maybe I should say purpose.  We build a lot of tools that other people might use to change other people’s lives, but we involve ourselves very little with the purpose.  Reviewing the products and companies brought to mind my children’s educations.  They learn math and writing, but to what purpose.  We are almost taught to not have a purpose because we have no purpose in school.  And then we wonder why there is so much depression and anxiety in the world today and why we have to entertain ourselves to death.  When we don’t share quotes like “Give me liberty or give me death!” maybe there is a problem.  It feels like as advocates of education, we often do the same thing.  Education is merely a tool, not a purpose: the hammer, not what we are going to use the hammer for.

Maybe the purpose really is found in the content, and our job in educational technology is to focus on the strategy and the media/technology.  But at the same time, can we really separate these things.  Russ Osguthorp introduced me to the idea of content area teaching strategies, or strategies that are specific to a content area.  If there are strategies that only work in certain specific areas (I know that this is the case when doing therapy with real people–one size does not fit all), then how general can we become with our focus in education.  Does our shotgun approach really just miss the target?

Maybe we need to introduce the purpose back into our schools, or maybe even accomplish something useful much like an apprentice provides services.  Are our children not educated enough to give back to society?

I know there are some great ideas out there, like service learning, and new ideas are always on the horizon.  And maybe I am getting a little too big for what we are really doing.  Maybe we do just need to get effective hammers out there so that we can do the job better–why not solve a small problem with a small answer.  Maybe I just need to lower my sights from the clouds to reality and see the problem from another standpoint.  Let me know what you think; it would help clarify my thoughts.

Thanks,

Mike

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