Friday, February 29, 2008

How important is education? How to make it the best it can be?

Dear Colleagues

Most people seem to understand that education is important ... but how to make it the best it can be is a much more difficult challenge.

Some people credit education in the United States as being one of the factors that helped the country to be one of the most innovative and productive countries in all of history. Certainly education has played an important role in helping to facilitate the economic development of America.

It was also widely recognised that the lack of education was a constraint on development in much of the world some fifty years ago ... and continues to be a constraint for most of the world's impoverished.

But making education the best it can be ... how is this to be done? Opinions differ. Education experts have very different views of what should be done ... even what education should be trying to do.

One of the ideas that seems to be worth considering is how to relate the young person's (or any person, for that matter) educational experience with the value adding that this experience opens up. The advantage of this sort of analysis is that the cost of education can be linked to the value of education, and in turn there is more potential for education to be made a priority investment, either by the family or by the society as a whole.

In practice, this might mean that education will take a direction that delivers more vocational education. In many places, and for many students, this might be a very good outcome. For others it is not the best outcome.

For some, the best outcome is for their brains to be challenged and for the student to gain an interest in learning that will last a lifetime and be ever changing.

The educational techniques that are best for one are not usually the best for the other. One size fits all does not work the best in education ... just as one solution for all problems never works anywhere.

What is abundantly clear is that education is important ... and, as in so much else, the world's leadership does not seem to want to invest in it and encourage it so that all can benefit from it.


Peter Burgess