Educational Philosophy has interested me for quite some years now. The reason why, is its dominating influence on the daily lives of children and adolescents.
The educational system of a country can be seen as the physical product of its Educational Philosophy. Together with the other Invisible Limitations, it determines the frameworks of the autonomy of minors in the society. Because of this, the educational system carries an enormous responsibility to serve the right purpose.
The importance of a decent educational system is acknowledged broadly. The state, companies and citizens will all enjoy its benefits once it is constructed properly and with care.
In order to do so, a perfect balance has to be found between the interests of all that are part of it. This leads to one of the most important central questions of Educational Philosophy namely:
“Who’s interest should education serve?”
In this blog we will try to find a satisfying answer to this question.
Educational Philosophy and the balance of interests
The educational system serves multiple purposes. It is the place where we are taught structure, discipline, valuable knowledge and (social) skills.
All these purposes are based on various interests deriving from different groups of people or institutions. Roughly, we can divide these into three main groups of stakeholders: The state, companies, and the citizens. Below I’d like to discuss these categories one by one.
The interest of companies
One of the main interests of companies, is the preparation for the labor market.
Valuable knowledge and skills are important for a smooth integration into the working life. Teamwork, discipline, structure and expertise, are key elements to succeed in this task.
The educational system is able to provide just that, which makes it interesting for companies.
The interest of citizens
The educational system is not only important for companies. Citizens benefit from it as well.
Faced with the invisible limitation of the Economy, citizens are motivated to find a job. While doing so, they face competition from others. Education provides the possibility to learn new skills and knowledge which can help them to stand out from the crowd and land the job they are aiming for.
Besides the career perspective, education can be of enormous help to achieve bigger goals. It helps to fuel your passion, turn hobbies into professions and achieve a state of self-actualization and happiness.
The interest of the state
The interests of the state are broad and diverse. The state has the difficult task to shape the educational system into a system that fits the needs of all.
Luckily, this task is not as impossible as it may sound. Many interests are shared among the groups which makes them rather easy to combine.
For example, there is an economic interest from all sides. Companies want applicants with valuable skills and knowledge. Citizens want to increase their value on the labor market and the state is interested in tax revenues from both the companies and citizens.
Besides that, there is an ‘upbringing’ interest from all sides. Companies need disciplined and reliable employees. Citizens can use a helping hand in the upbringing of their children and the state is interested in law-abiding citizens.
By keeping all these interests in balance, the educational system will provide an important basis for peace and welfare in a country.
Happiness: The individual project of the citizen
The Educational Philosophy of the state, focuses primarily on balancing the interests of all groups. While doing so, one of the most important interests is often left out: The happiness of the individual citizen.
A person is always a citizen but can also be part of a company and the state. Because of this fact, it is necessary to keep the happiness of the individual citizen in mind while constructing educational policies.
The chance of happiness increases by studying subjects that align with your intrinsic motivation. This requires certain reforms in the educational system to fit the needs of the individual better.
Who’s interest should education serve?
In the beginning of this blog, I promised to try to find a satisfying answer to who’s interest education should serve.
The first and clear answer to this is “all”. But one stands out in particular: The interests of the individual citizen.
Everyone benefits from happy citizens. Doing something you love will lead to more motivation, better results, and less burn-outs. This is not only good for the well-being of the people but also for the economy. To achieve this, the educational system should be flexible and accessible.
In chapter 3 of my e-book Invisible Limitations, I describe an alternative educational system which I think might be an excellent basis to start from. In case you are interested, you can get my e-book for free here.
What do you think Educational Philosophy should focus on? Let me know in a comment below!