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What Is the Purpose of Education? Essay



Education has always been regarded as a significant part of the life of every individual. People had developed a particular understanding of education since the first civilizations appeared. Nowadays, primary education is mandatory for children in most of the countries. This necessity is predetermined by the fact that the individual should have the education to become a full value member of society. Also, education is vital for both personal and professional growth. The importance of education cannot be overestimated because it improves one’s potential and knowledge, promotes the development of society, and enhances the understanding of the surrounding world.

Understanding the notion of education

As it has been already mentioned, education became an important part of life since the beginning of humanity. Every epoch and civilization, starting from the Antiquity, shared the particular understanding of the notion of education and relationship between teachers and students. For example, the Ancient Greek understanding of the relationships between educators and learners may be described as follows: “The instructor is not noticeably older than the boys, but they appear to give him the respect and deference that would be due an honored teacher” (Austin 7). Such view of the learning process demonstrates the belief that the relationships between teachers and students should be based on the mutual respect. However, other ancient civilizations shared different views.

Hsun Tsu, a disciple of Confucius, saw education as a strict process of alternation. “He compared the process of educating a child to the process of straightening a piece of wood against a board or sharpening a piece of metal with a stone” (Austin 8). Such an approach is more teacher-centered in comparison to the other. Understanding of the notion of education is connected with its definition as well.

In Wikipedia, education is defined as “the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits” (“Education” par. 1). Such understanding of education usually presupposes that the individual studies at school or any other educational establishment to receive particular knowledge. Austin writes about Okakok’s argument that the word “education” should not be used interchangeably with the word “schooling” (79). The author writes that people are tended to speak about an educated person when they mean somebody who has received an official education. “Since all of our traditional knowledge and expertise is of this latter type, the concept of an ‘educated person’ has worked against us as a people, creating conflicting attitudes, and weakening older and proven instructional methods and objects of knowledge” (Austin 79). However, the controversial nature of education is described not only in the meaning of the word.

An interesting view on the nature of education was expressed by Paulo Freire in 1970. According to Freire, education reflects the political situation in the country. In authoritative countries, teachers have the absolute authority over learners who have to follow their orders. Freire considers that the interaction between the teacher and learner has a narrative character. Thus, the teacher is a person who narrates while the student listens. “Education is suffering from narration sickness” (Austin 63). Freire believes that the teacher should let students express their opinions and participate in the process. Ideas of Freire vividly describe one of the purposes of education.

The purpose of education

It is difficult to understand and appreciate the significance of education without knowing its purposes. Many students are reluctant to study because they see no point in studying formulas and learning poems by heart. The problem is that not only students but many people are confused when they try to define the purpose of education. Philip Guo writes that many individuals use clichés (e.g. education teaches us how to learn) to explain the purpose of education. “The main purpose of education is to strengthen your mind” (Guo par. 1). Guo considers that permanent learning makes one’s mind strong. Thus, education lets people be prepared to challenging situations in life. Guo provides analog from sport to demonstrate his point of view. He writes that a good player has to work on his or her body all the time. The same is with mental conditioning. Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the first advocates of the rights of women, realizes that all people need to develop the strength of mind. Wollstonecraft writes that people always react to something new or unusual “because they want the activity of mind, because they have not cherished the virtues of the heart” (Austin 37). By asserting the rights of women, Wollstonecraft recognizes the importance of education to become an active member of society.

Education comprises a significant part of the social life. The purpose of education was explained by Nick Gibb, the Minister of Education in the United Kingdom in 2015. Gibb dwelled on that education formed a cornerstone of the economy and social life (Gibb par. 10). This statement describes the second significant purpose of education. Proper education is necessary for being able to live in society. When people study at schools, universities, or other institutions, they happen to be involved in various social situations. Also, educators provide students with knowledge concerning the proper behavior in society often. Seneca wrote, “they [liberal arts] are raw materials out of which a virtuous life can be built — such as they are indispensable to the functioning of a free society” (Austin 16). Thus, education is what makes people prepared to the life with others. It makes everybody familiar with the concepts of justice, equity, and freedom. Such identification of the purpose of education is rather limited at the same time if take into account that education is a much broader concept.

Kim Jones writes that when it comes to finding the solution to the particular problem, education becomes inevitable aspect of the proper decision. Education is crucial for addressing poverty issues or environmental problems. For example, Douglas contemplates that education is directly connected with freedom. The author takes slavery as an example. He writes, “Education goes hand in hand with freedom, and the only way to keep people enslaved is to prevent them from learning and acquiring knowledge” (Austin 46). Jones considers that there is no universal purpose of education because it is a too diverse phenomenon (par. 8). The aim of education is connected with the reasons to have it.

Reasons to have education

The importance of education cannot be overestimated. It is necessary to evaluate the reasons to have education in various spheres of life. First, education is vital for individual development. When the individual receives knowledge, it alters his or her vision of the world. Also, education promotes the development of critical skills. Thus, educated people know how to analyze different situations (“Why is Education So Important” par. 3). In addition, education is useful for the improvement of character. Education teaches individuals how to become civilized citizens and behave properly. Hsun Tzu uses the word “gentleman” to describe an educated man. Confucius’ follower believes that a proper education is necessary for staying human and making right choices in life. “Therefore, a gentleman will take care in selecting the community he intends to live in, and will choose men of breeding for his companions. In this way he wards off evil and meanness, and draws close to fairness and right” (Austin 10). Education makes the individual aware of the way the world works. An educated person does not believe in illusions.

The second reason to have the education is connected with the professional development. College graduates are more likely to find an interesting job in comparison to those who neglect education. People with education have the possibility to build careers and improve their financial situation (“Importance of Education in Society” par. 4). One may argue that education brings purely material rewards. Still, the feeling of personal growth from career achievements should not be overlooked as well. As Tzu states, “If you make use of the erudition of others and the explanations of gentlemen, then you will become honored and may make your way anywhere in the world” (Austin 12).

The third reason to have education refers to its significance to societies and nations. Kurniawan dwells on the connection of the lack of education with large scale problems such as poverty (1). The writer provides insights from the macroeconomic theory arguing that government’s investment in education results in a better productivity of the labor force. Consequently, people can perform better activities and receive high wages. Also, education makes the whole society aware of the challenges and ways of their overcoming. Even more, education leads to the achievement of the higher level of awareness. “It epitomizes the special characteristics of consciousness: being conscious of, not only as intent on objects but as turned in upon itself in Jasperian “split” — consciousness as consciousness of consciousness” (Austin 65).

Features of an educated person

The importance of education may be understood after the evaluation of the features of an educated person. Many people consider that an educated person knows a lot of facts and can remember information easily. Knowing facts does not make somebody an educated person. For example, one may memorize numerous things but fail to use them in practice. An educated person should have imagination and the ability to think and use acquired knowledge. Otherwise, no efficient result will be achieved. Al-Ghazali thinks that “effort to acquire knowledge is the worship of mind” (Austin 25). Thus, an educated person enjoys the process of learning something new and knows rationales for all efforts. An educated individual comprehends that education is not about having a diploma or certificate (Burdick par. 5). It is about learning how to live and become a better person.

McKay provides an interesting description of three features of educated people. The author believes that educated people do not wait for someone to entertain them. They always know what to do. Second, any educated person may entertain his or her friend. As far as such individuals know a variety of information, they face no difficulty in amusing others (McKay par. 8). The last distinctive feature of an educated person is open-mindedness. Such an individual is open to new suggestions and ideas. Educated people are not prejudiced or biased against something. They always enjoy learning something new even from the extremely different perspective because it broadens their scope of knowledge.


The role of education has always been important for people. Philosophers and educators of ancient civilizations realized the significance of knowledge acquisition. Nowadays, education has become an integral part of modern life. Education is often defined as the process of acquisition of new knowledge, skills, and habits. However, some scholars argue that such a definition does not reveal the true nature of education because it is more than having certificates or diplomas. Numerous views exist about the purpose of education, but most of them recognize the fact that education aims to improve lives of people. Reasons to have education also predetermine its significance. Thus, educated people are aware of many things in the surrounding world. They cannot be easily tricked. Also, they know the true value of knowledge. Besides, educated people have better opportunities for the professional development in comparison to those who do not have the education. Finally, education brings benefits to the nations. An educated society is a substantial advantage of every country. It is also important to be aware of what makes educated people better and different. Educated people are not only those who know a lot of facts. An educated individual realizes that being able to use knowledge is as important as having knowledge. All these factors demonstrate the significance of education in the modern society.

Works Cited

Austin, Michael. Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. New York City, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

Burdick, Eamon. An Educated Person. 2014. Web.

Education n.d. Web.

Importance of Education in Society n.d. Web.

Gibb, Nick. The purpose of education. 2015. Web.

Guo, Philip. The Main Purpose of Education. 2010. Web.

Jones, Kim. What is the purpose of education. 2012. Web.

Kurniawan, Budi. The Important of Education for Economic Growth. n.d. PDF file. 2016.

McKay, Brett. The 3 Characteristics of an Educated Man. 2011. Web.

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