Having signed up early to the 2012 #500Words campaign for Purpos/ed, I was very kindly sent a book with all of the posts from the 2011 campaign. Thank you Andy and Doug. So naturally I did with the book what I am reluctant to do with my various devices I normally read blogs on – I read it in the bath.
I noticed something that interested me – there’s an elephant in the Purpos/ed room – our beliefs.
While many wrote eloquently and persuasively concerning what they thought the purpose of education really is, very few touched on issues of faith. There are a few oblique references, a mention of a stained glass window, a Bible verse quoted and even one contributor who almost seems to apologise for moving on to spiritual matters.
Yet only one blogger, Nick Dennis, actually hammers his colours to the mast called belief when he announces that he is writing from a standpoint that is “unashamedly liberal and deeply humanistic.” He explains in his post that we need to be clear on our principles if we are to better answer the question ‘what is the purpose of education?’
This got my me thinking about my own post – The Purpose of Education is Hope. I realised that I have some core principles, or beliefs, if you can call them that, that lie behind my post that I should expound upon. My view that all people need hope in some form comes from a Christian perspective. I could go on. I could explain how the joint experience of Jesus’ teachings and Jesus Himself have led me to this belief, but I won’t – that’s another post for another time.
What shocked me was that I felt somehow ashamed to blog such a thing – how could I admit it to my peers? What if some amazing atheist philosopher was waiting around the corner to shoot my beliefs down in flames? And I felt envious of Nick Dennis, who could so boldly write ‘unashamedly’ in his post. And it made me wonder how many other people had done the same thing.
I often hear comments that we are trying to do 21st Century Education on a 19th Century model. And yet the purpose of the National Education League as the driving voice between UK 1870 Elementary Education Act was to create an education system that prepared students for the work place, wresting it from the Church who had become to dominate education the UK education system. Is that much different from the pressures we have on today’s education system? And for that reason, it is even more important that we analyse the principles behind we why educate, both individually and corporately.
And so I would encourage future Purpos/ed contributors to follow Nick Dennis’ advice. Do be clear on your principles. Tell us about your beliefs. Let’s not be ashamed about things we hold dear. It will only make the elephant bigger.