The multifaceted surface of education

This post is not a consideration of the philosophical purpose of education. Rather, it is a very quick reflection on the multifaceted nature of education. The meaning of term ‘education’ itself varies depending on the values and beliefs of the individual using it. However, philosophical beliefs aside, for the purpose of this brief post, I will consider education as ‘the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.’

From a single glance at the front page of the BBC News website for education, the range of aspects that form a part of the ‘surface’ of a school become clear.

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Politics, religion, technology, tests, exams, class sizes, standards, budgets, safety, extremism, workload, international comparisons, pupil voice, parent voice, teacher voice, school improvement, behaviour, law, social issues. The discourse of schooling is politically, socially, racially and economically loaded.

This raises a few ‘big’ questions:

How does this all translate into classrooms across the country?

How does this impact on teaching and learning: the foundation of education and schooling?

Is teaching and learning actually at the heart of education and schooling?

Whatever the answers may be to these questions, as a teacher, it is my job to filter the exterior dialogue that surrounds education and focus on the one thing that matters most in my practice: the children I teach. The most important thing to note, however, is that by filter I do not mean forget. Rather, professionally, I must decide what is important to focus and reflect on and what is healthier to store to act upon later.

What are the aspects of this discourse that are important to consider? Perhaps the answer to this question depends on the philosophical notion of education that you hold. It was not my aim to explore my philosophy of education. However, having ignited these thoughts, it seems I have!

While on the surface the issues and priorities surrounding ‘education’ are inevitably multifaceted, for me they are not. For me, irrespective of exterior influence, the priority surrounds providing inspiring and ‘open’ opportunities for children to learn and grow.

But wait. Is that actually possible? Is it possible to remove these influences when education is fuelled by them? It’s too late to consider this further (bed is calling).

To end, what is becoming clear to me (literally as I write this!) is that my priorities as an educator are impossible to consider against a backdrop of social, political and economic influence in a philosophical vacuum.

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