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Rethinking education: start with learning goals (2/4)

What are the key learning goals of our two stakeholders, students and society? We’ll evaluate the validity and priority of these later; for now my summary of the goals that our education system tries, at least in part, to accomplish:

Student goals:

  1. Foundational skills needed for adulthood

  2. Ability to reason and problem solve independently

  3. Practical skills to be applied to work/home life

  4. Intellectual capacity to explore, question, grow as a person

  5. Basic moral code (including the norms of the society)

  6. Character strengths

  7. Knowledge in subjects of students’ own election

  8. Physical growth and outlet (sports, recreation, etc.)

Societal goals

  1. Individuals that observe rule of law, uphold social norms, do not disturb security

  2. Families that support themselves without need for external support

  3. Workers with skill that add value to the economy

  4. Citizens that cast participate civically, casting informed votes and otherwise ‘owning’ democracy

  5. Communities that maintain national pride + unity while also nurturing their own strengths + values

Even if you disagree with the goals above - which should be challenged - the point for now is to examine how the lens of goals can be applied to the many things we are working on now. If a middle school math teacher is trying to become more impactful outside that subject, or a state superintendent wants to strengthen her state’s moral character, or a tech billionaire just ‘wants to make the world better,’ how do they decide what to do? They could start by seeing how on-the-ground initiatives (classes) connect to learning goals. The 7 education categories (without enablers like nutrition) could be debated, bucketed and mapped differently of course. This is my take:

The categorization and goal-mapping allows us to see which goals are served by which programs. We can quickly see that if we are looking to improve society’s civic participation that our levers are specialized classes, humanities and character development. This mapping helps us see options and trace connections, and when we use these categories to look more finely at the more complicated questions in education we start to get a better picture of how best to achieve our learning goals.