What Is Education For? One Hope, Four Goals
Patrick Sawyer
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Concerns over education permeate our national discourse. At the very foundation of
these discussions lingers the often unresolved question: What is education for? This
essay seeks to unpack the answer to this fundamental question by offering a primary hope
of education and four macro goals of education. The bulk of this essay is given to the
primary hope of education. The four macro goals are mentioned, defined, and briefly
explained. In the context of the particular subject being taught, the primary hope and
four macro goals of education address essential philosophical and practical concerns of
human existence.
Gert Biesta (2010) asks the question, “What is education for” (p. 10)? What a
compelling, yet troubling, question; compelling, because there are few topics more
germane to the well-being of any society. Troubling, because the average American is
not only deficient in his or her understanding of a robust answer to this question, but is
also ignorant as to what is currently taking place in American schools. A recent,
extensive study done by The Associated Press - NORC Center for Public Affairs
Research, housed at the University of Chicago, found that more than half of the parents
surveyed had little to no understanding of the Common Core State Standards (Common
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