What is the point of education?



I want to start by putting this blog into a bit of context. I have a long standing commitment to TIDE~Global learning who are a teachers’ network promoting the idea that young people have an entitlement to global learning through engaging with global perspectives, human rights, sustainability and international development.  I am due to travel to the Gambia this October half term as part of an international, three year curriculum development project co-funded by the European Union. This weekend a group of UK and German educators gathered together for our preparatory weekend. After meeting each other for the first time on Friday night, I led a session on Saturday afternoon on ‘The Purpose of Education’.


One clear challenge in delivering this session was the language barrier; the UK group could not speak German and the German educators spoke varying levels of English. I deliberately created resources that did not rely too heavily on text. The opening activity was completed using multi-lingual pairings and small groups. Quotes were distributed and I simply asked for some thoughts and feedback. tide

Initial thoughts:

  • What does Chomsky mean by learning?
  • What is the end goal of education?
  • Who are the ones to teach about ‘the unimaginable’?

Picture cards were then handed out and placed into a diamond nine shape which created a great deal of debate.

Final thoughts:

  • Education is empowering
  • Education can open minds and instill a life-long curiosity
  • Education brings about happiness
  • Education is based on work-related skills
  • Education is for the good of everyone not just the individual


The session was delivered over 40 minutes and was supported by 4 handouts which included a set of laminated pictures. The pictures were deliberately created to be ambiguous to allow for wider discussion.

Click here to download the resources: ~TIDE Purpose of Education

Related links: 




Please get in touch if you would like anything explained.



2 thoughts on “What is the point of education?”

  1. Hi Jo, I was sent a link to this by Ben. Great to read and see this vital question forming part of the current Tide project. When I left Tide we went on to run a previously planned study visit ourselves that focussed on ‘What is learning for?’ and took a group of educators (including a Tide trustee actually) out to Kerala in South India to engage in exactly the sort of dialogue your activity promotes. It was interesting to see the link to the 500 words from Purpose Ed too, as I was invited to contribute to that project in 2012 and it was great to be involved with so many different perspectives on the question.
    Thanks for sharing the resources and ideas that you used and the link to Chomsky that I will enjoy with a coffee later. Great to see that this question is alive and burning and I am sure you will return to it in the course of the visit with your partners and the work in The Gambia with Tide and others.
    We need more of this type of project and work and to share it so thanks.

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