Letter: True aims of education

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Sir: In your leading article on 12 February you celebrate the current consensus of politicians and parents on education. I submit that it is time this "consensus" was challenged.

Children do not exist to fuel economic growth, nor even to satisfy parents' ambitions for them. They exist in their own right as persons. Of course learning -to be competent and to contribute to the community's well-being - is a vital element in the growth of a person, but it is only one side of the story. Education conceived entirely in instrumental terms, whether for the honing of a fine tool in the economy, or for furthering personal ambition to "get on", is out of balance.

The young have other needs as well: to explore a fascinating world beyond themselves; to develop a critical mind; to discover who they are through constructive and stable relationships; to form long-term purposes and practise the discipline needed to pursue them.

From the nursery to the student stage, all real teachers measure the progress of a person by subtler standards than those of official tests.


Hon Fellow

St Anne's College, Oxford