The purpose of education is to burn brightly!

The last time I thought about the purpose of education was 2010 in preparation for the first gathering under the #purposed tag in Sheffield.

My presentation focused on three basics – a toolbox, a light bulb and a great big cup of tea. My message was that education should help fill the toolbox with skills in order to bring about creativity for all to be members of society. I still hold with those ideas but subconsciously, I think I was stuck in the ‘school is where most education occurs’ way of thinking.

As a retired headteacher I suppose that was a natural position to take. However, the learning I have achieved and the ‘education’ I have received in the past two years has added another layer to my definition and that is about the longevity of learning.

Thinking about it, it links well with an event that is happening in the country at the moment – that of the Olympic torch relay and the lighting of the flame. Now you may ask how on earth that is anything to do with education and its purpose. Well there are a number of similarities.

Firstly, it is something that is given a lot of attention. Getting the sun’s rays to light the flame takes a while and lots of patience and once the flame is lit it is carefully protected until it gets to its destination. We can associate that with the early years work that is done in our nursery classes where we protect our young students.

Once the flame arrives at its starting point, it is then shared among many different people in many different places with lots of different viewpoints. It is passed from one to the other very carefully making sure that the flame stays alight and burns brightly. This could be regarded as the formal schooling that is undertaken by most of us from reception through to University.

Carrying on with the analogy, we could say that the formal part of the relay is finished when the flame is lit that will burn throughout the games. For me this represents the freedom that we have once our formal education is finished. Like the flame we can burn brightly, moving as the wind takes us, searching to go higher in the sky.

That is all about taking the opportunity presented to us within a freedom of choice of how we use our learning. Certainly I have acquired such a great amount of new learning since retiring, I know that education is not restricted to a time or place.

Young children are like sponges. Everything is new and needs to be understood or at least explored. As we get older our learning deepens and we assimilate new experiences to those already embedded. When you get beyond school you can sometimes forget that education and learning is still available to you. Perhaps the stress of everyday life can distract you from this but we can all still be sponges. We should burn brightly until our flame is extinguished safe in the knowledge that it will continue to be passed on.

This post is part of #500Words Take 2 for the #purposed debate.

Post Script: I was part of the crowd yesterday that watched the Olympic torch go by. It was really uplifting and made me realise that there is another link with education. That of celebration. We should do more of it as when we do it is great!

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