There is no agreement among teachers, psychologists, politicians, and philosophers as to the purpose of education, nor is there any agreement as to what constitutes education. If the purpose is to train good citizens, we are faced with the fact that conceptions of good citizens differ in different countries. Can be an attempt done by the adult members of a human society to shape the development of the coming generation in accordance with its own ideals of life. This seems an unsatisfactory definition because:
a – It is a definition of training rather than of education, and
b – The rising generation will live in the world of to-morrow.
Whatever definition we accept of education and of the purpose of education, it will be colored by our own philosophy of life. There appears to be a need for each one of us to define our own ideals and purposes. We may then hope for the good fortune to be able to realize them in part.
The attainment by each child of his maximum potential intellectual efficiency through the cultivation of good mental habits would result in an increased measure of human happiness.There is perhaps nothing new in this, for many will see in this belief merely a variation of a Greek conception of happiness. This belief, held by a teacher, gave rise to a personal problem. What means can be evolved that will result in each child’s attaining the maximum possible intellectual efficiency. The problem has been tackled in a restricted sphere, latterly among a group of children whose mental powers are so limited that only by exercising them at their maximum efficiency can they hope to attain any real happiness.
We have to draw attention to a view that the overriding aim of the teacher is the matching of capacity by attainment.
Education has been passed down from above, and hitherto attempted chiefly through the medium of words. We believe that it should be built up from below, and that for the majority it should be chiefly through the medium of the concrete, the visual, and the everyday.
The first requirement for all who teach, or who aspire to teach, appears to be an appreciation of:
a – The difference between education and instruction,
b – The different levels of ability among children,
c – The different types of ability among children.
There is a fundamental distinction between education and instruction; between the concept of the development of talents inborn and individual, and the conveying to a person of a body of information. The transition in schools from” chiefly instruction to chiefly education has been delayed by large classes, but it is taking place.
Teaching, as we understand it, should be generally not lecturing or talking by the teacher, but largely
a – The preparation before the lesson period of exercises that afford opportunities for activity by the pupil;
b – The stimulation of interest, i.e. the creation of the right emotional environment (in which, or course, oral teaching has some place).
Learning is the pupil activity:
a – In observing (one aspect of Experience);
b – In comparing and contrasting (Relations);
c – In applying the relationships observed in order to obtain new knowledge (Correlates);
d – In observing given new isolates and bringing them into relation in right sequence with knowledge and skills that have already been acquired (application); and
e – In planning and thinking in series and sequences.