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PISA2018 2.3 Alan Reid on Education

The Purpose of Education

Professor Alan Reid of the University of South Australia, speaking at the symposium on NAPLAN in July 2010 (see below) outlined the role of education in a democratic state.

In a globalised and more complex world, where the nature and role of the nation state are changing, schooling based upon public purpose becomes more important. There is a need to return to a renewed emphasis on democratic public purposes for Australian education.

“How can the public (democratic) purposes of education be advanced? Since active democracy requires capabilities for its nourishment, the central work of schools in a democratic society is the development of the capacities for social practice. These include capacities for citizenship, work, intercultural understanding, community involvement, communication and so on — capacities that build the common good.

“The development of these capacities as a major purpose of schools has implications for the three modalities of schooling referred to earlier. Thus, from the perspective of public (democratic) purposes of education, the structure of schooling would seek to ensure equality of educational opportunity and resources that provide for the needs of all students (it would not tolerate unequal resourcing of schools); the curriculum would ensure that all students are encouraged and enabled to develop the capacities necessary for a democratic society (rather than a narrow and/or stratified curriculum); and the culture and processes of schooling would be based upon and model democratic processes (rather than authoritarian, top-down approaches).[1]


[1] Reid expands on these views in his book Changing Australian Education (see later essays in this set, especially part 5)