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Why does our education system work the way it does? How can we improve it?

  • Why do we teach so much material that we forget because it's useless? Arithmetic, history
  • Emphasis on academic subjects over vocational or practical (personal money management).
  • Why so much emphasis on memorization, content vs. skills?
  • We say we value critical creative thinking, but we mostly don't directly teach it.

Rational Analysis

Whether we are analyzing an existing educational system or designing one, there are two primary questions:

  • What do we teach? (curriculum)
  • How do we teach? (methods)

Any explanations or justifications of our answers to the primary questions will rest on our answer to the ultimate question:

  • What is the function or aim of education? (policy, philosophy)

While this framework is a necessary part of any rational argument about education, education is so enmeshed in history and in other aspects of a culture's lifeways (economy and social structure) that it is very difficult to choose educational practices based on abstract principles.

Main article: Educational Philosophy
See also: Education and Social Structure, Methods of Education

History and Cross-Cultural Comparison

Comparison of current western educational systems to those in other times and places is very valuable. Where there are similarities, it suggests a widespread need or constraint. Differences are especially important because they help us to move beyond unthinking acceptance of the current system. History is also an important explanation, since education tends to adopt and perpetuate practices of other cultures.

Main article: Anthropology and History of Education

Cultural Evolution

Education is a fascinating topic for this wiki because it seems like a wonderful example of the process of Cultural Evolution. The basic concept of the Darwinian cultural evolution that we endorse is that cultural institutions (such as education) evolve by a process which is a generalization of biological Evolution.

Cultural evolution sits somewhere between history and rational analysis. It understands practices such as education as having arisen by a historical process of descent-with-modification. Modifications are imposed by humans, who presumably had their reasons, but the ultimate justification is that the practice has to work–it has to implement a social function. It is quite possible for a useful practice to be justified using a weak or incorrect explanation.

Main article: Evolution of Education
See also: Functions of Education

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analysis/social/education/0main.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/09 21:04 by ram