Debate: the overriding purpose of education should not be to meet economic needs

We havent discussed education before but its something most of us know a lot about. The discussion will hopefully be in the form of a friendly debate: should education be primarily about providing suitably trained workers to drive the economy, or should it be about other things (personal satisfaction, happiness, enlightenment etc)? Of course, there are bound to combinations of different purposes, but let's consider the case that it should NOT be about training workers for the economy, and should instead be predominantly about enabling students to grow and develop themselves. Can a you persuade a majority of those present of the rightness of your views? Come and take part.

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  • Vikay K.

    The IVF is born ignorant. It is all the time interacting with its own Unique EVF and accumulating learning experiences which enable it to ACT. Thus education must be generic and should train the IVF to recognise the three R's - Relativity, Reciprocity and Respect. Thus education should focus on proving the basic life skills. Career and wealth accumulation should be secondary.

    May 3, 2014

  • Allan C.

    Gotta note that the previous meetup by Aloysius on Deconstructing Arguments was useful for me during today's discussion. Looking forward to the next philosophy meetup :)

    1 · March 1, 2014

  • Alo

    Hi to all who attended. I mentioned that I would upload 2 papers regarding our discussion. They are in the 'Files' section. These are articles I encountered while doing a Sociology of Education mod in uni.

    I highly highly recommend them. Your understanding of the dilemmas, cross-purposes and goals of education will be improved exponentially. (They are based in the US but are definitely applicable to any decent school system.) I found them to be very helpful, clear, interesting and incisively. Do read them if you can!

    1 · March 2, 2014

  • Alo

    A very fruitful debate, with persistent attempts to clarify definitions. Lively.

    March 2, 2014

  • Kyle Kai Hang T.

    Insightful and exciting :)

    1 · March 1, 2014

  • john


    Firstly as a UK national I can say that Sg education is of a very high standard.

    The purpose of education is tricky. I used to think it was about enlightenment but I now tend to think it has to have some economic value to the individual. The UK is teeming with university courses on things of little rigour or use - like media studies - and lots do these courses cos they are easy.

    If i was advising a young person now what to study; I would say get a portable vocational qualification.

    The wider issue of what general education should include especially at sec level is more interesting - I have lots to say about that.

    I used to be a teacher about 100 years ago :)

    btw I love Singapore :)

    February 15, 2014

  • kit

    Sorry, haven't been attending for a while. Not sure if I can make it for this one too. Anyway, for this topic, some initial thoughts: - Each individual defines his own purpose for education. There's no one size fits all. - It's a matter of proportion, of a mix of the two. - You're also setting up a dichotomy between trained workers for the economy, and personal satisfaction. There can be considerable overlap. - Personal satisfaction is not entirely divorced from the economy. It can come from using your skills to the best of your ability to serve others, not necessarily arising from the skill itself. How satisfied can you be in occupation X when there are a glut of people in it, making you realize that you're not making a difference? - Assumes one monolithic "education" whereas you can have a basic school education, followed by specialized career training.

    February 10, 2014

  • Mark

    Hi Tim...

    "the overriding purpose of education should not be to meet economic needs" --- I suspect a debate for that topic could end up being one-sided, with most participants favouring personal satisfaction, happiness, enlightenment etc, as a more primary purpose than "training workers for the economy". (Especially since today we're no longer in the Singapore of the 70s or 80s.)

    My suggestion: It may be more productive to allow the topic to extend beyond the economic, into social-civic and political themes. For example: "The overriding purpose of education should not be to mould an individual to fit the community's or society's needs and benefits."

    That way, the counter-motion won't be limited to training workers, and can touch on social harmony, civic-mindedness or cultural integration, as a counter to the liberty of individual fulfillment.

    1 · February 10, 2014

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