Education is because it is

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Your supplements What is Education For? have contained interesting articles, but have you asked the right question?

You can ask "What are schools for?", and you can ask "What is education?", but to ask what education is for is rather like asking what happiness is for: both are ends in themselves.

Schools can be for various things, of which education is one; others include training in key skills, preparation for work, pastoral care, and socialisation. This is not just pedantry.

To suggest that education is "for" anything invites those in power to regard education in purely instrumental terms and to forego the more difficult task of analysing what it means to be an educated person.

It is perfectly possible to conceive of schools which are efficient in training and instruction and produce citizens who are law-abiding and employable, but whose students are not educated. Indeed, this is the danger of endless target-setting, box-ticking and testing.

Fortunately, most schools manage to educate their students in spite of these pressures, but it is not easy.

Dr Jim Docking Winding Bromley Old Road Buckland, Surrey

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today