Martin’s Weblog

The Purpose of Education

A major purpose of our education system is (has become) the testing and grading of people for social economic function – for work, for more education or ……

Education has been very successful in meeting the supply side of the demand for test grades – through considerable focus on quality, control, targets and achievement outcomes overall test grades get better every year.

Maximising test grades has become the purpose of education – we can’t fault the system for effectively meeting demand. Learners demand test grades – to get a job;  to get on a course, or as consumers as a return on investment for tuition fees. Education itself demands test grades – as  input quality controls to maintain course achievement levels for competition and to secure funding.

So, what’s wrong with teaching to the test – the system is effectively meeting demand for test results.

The purpose of education is to supply demand.

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April 17, 2011 - Posted by | education

4 Comments »

  1. I demand that you change that!

    Comment by fred6368 | April 18, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thanks Fred – your comment that’s exactly what I mean – demand – supply dynamics.

    I’ll write up more on this

    Comment by martinking | April 18, 2011 | Reply

  3. Martin,

    Any thoughts about the effects of the grade inflation and the bursting of the “college or die” meme?

    Seems to me that grades are quickly losing their efficacy as filters.

    Comment by Michael Josefowicz | May 2, 2011 | Reply

  4. Michael,

    I’ve included a little about grade inflation in my post on “a future for education”

    https://martinking.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/a-future-of-education/

    Yes – in my view the very success of education in manufacturing good grades has led to an inflationary problem.

    Education has the advantage though of being pretty much able to mint its own currency – define its own “monetary policy” and redefine grade values as it sees fit.

    Another way of looking at grade as a currency is not in the monetary value *A, B, C etc) but in the fundamental worth – what do these represent – increasingly they represent ability to pass tests.

    So in one sense we have inflation in exchange value (A, B etc) and devaluation in intrinsic value.

    Comment by martinking | May 2, 2011 | Reply


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