Purpose of Education (Essay)

Education is a vast continent. In spite of its complexity eminent men have tried to define it in their own way.

Education is a continuous process. Home and school are fundamental agencies in the mental and moral development of a child.

These are three main essentials of a sound and meaningful education:

  • Intellectual
  • Religio-moral
  • Physical

The Essay

Education is a complex subject which appears to be an elude definition. With the passage of time, it has gathered new dimensions and stirred the human mind in unpredictable ways. Intelligent and well-meaning men have, at all times, attempted to define the ideals of education in their own way.

While some have emphasized its physical or moral aspect, others have laid greater stress on its intellectual or social role. Addison, for instance, writes:

“I consider a human soul without education like marble in the quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the color, makes the surface shine and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein that runs through the body of it. Education, after the same manner, when it works upon a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection, which, without such helps, are never able to make their appearance.”

John Stuart Mill holds,

Whatever helps to shape the human being; to make the human being what he is, or hinder him from being what he is not – is part of his education.”

Both these point of view are narrow or diffuse and not very helpful. A more satisfactory definition comes to us from Sir Richard Livingstone. He believes that education must include:

“a vocational element, a social or , as the Greeks would have called it, a political element and a spiritual element…education must help men to achieve these three ends.”

Education is a continuous process and it aims at the total development of the individual. The process begins with the home and progresses through school. If parents and teachers work in harmony, the mind of the child blossoms. His good and useful powers are developed in an agreeable way and his evil and useless propensities are checked. As he moves up in the scale of time and receptivity, he begins to understand the full meaning and purpose of a liberal education.

One of the main essential of education is to provide the individual with the capacity for logical and objective thinking. Without this skill, it is difficult to conceive of anyone’s acquiring and continually expanding the knowledge which is considered indispensable to an educated man. According to Albert Einstein,

The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgement should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge. If a person has learned to work and think independently, he will certainly adapt himself to progress and changes than the person whose training principally consists in acquiring detailed knowledge.

An educational system which is in practice bookish and remote from life will evidently be lopsided and serve no genuine purpose.

“In the conditions of modern life the rule is absolute; the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed.” A singular tribute, indeed, to the glory of the critical spirit from Prof. A. N. Whitehead.

Equally essential is the religio-moral element. In a way, the cultivation of morality, or right of conduct or good behavior in its widest sense, is the supreme aim of education.

A curriculum can ill afford to be blind to this object, for its importance far transcends the syllabic domain.

Absence of a meaningful set of values may breed arrogance and conceit. Institutions must contribute as much as they can to the traditional virtues of humility, truth, honor, piety, fortitude and so on.

These are qualities not characteristically learned in books or classes, but rather in the whole process of a young man’s life. In particular, we cannot believe the ignorance of the Holy Quran is a suitable hallmark of educated men. A working acquaintance with this unique code of human conduct is so obviously fundamental as not to require argument.

So much attention is often directed towards the mental and ethical branched of education that, in the process,, the physical dimension is either forgotten or just ignored. The body, indeed, is not merely an instrument through which the mind achieves its purposes: it is a necessary condition of the very existence and efficiency of the mind.

That many disorders are psychosomatic is now an accepted fact of modern life. the time-honored maxim, “a sound mind in a sound body”, contains a deeper truth than many suppose — the truth that a healthy mind is impossible without a healthy body. Men of ancient Sparta placed physical fitness at the very apex of their educational system.

A harmonious blending of the mental, moral and physical cultures is then the ideal of a sound and meaningful education. In a developing country like Pakistan, the fruits of knowledge must be canalized in yet another direction as well – namely, as a resource for national development. Thinking should make a leap from the classroom to the practical problems beyond the campus.

Our educational system should be consonant with the country’s self-image; it should be, in form and content, consistent with the hopes and aspirations the country holds of itself; indeed, it should be the medium through which our aspirations come to be realized.