Quality of Life, Not Jobs, Should Be Education's Goal

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

David Burns’ remarks in his recent Commentary "Creativity: The Path to Economic Recovery" (May 13, 2009) are conspicuously correct, timely, and deserving of attention by every prospective reformer of education. Taking his thoughts a step further, the skills our nation desperately needs in its young people include discipline, flexibility, and the ability to work cooperatively with others, in addition to creativity. As it happens, there’s nothing taught in schools that develops those skills more effectively than the arts.

The nature of work has become so specialized, and changes so rapidly, that employers want to train their own employees. What they need from schools are graduates who are trainable, and that means graduates with a solid background in the basic disciplines, including the arts.

Employability is an important byproduct of education, but not its major goal. Neither is market dominance. In my view, the primary purpose of education is the pursuit of truth and beauty, the development of human capacities, and the improvement of quality of life. Ultimately, we should judge our educational system by its ability to build a better life for every member of society.

Paul R. Lehman
Professor Emeritus
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Vol. 28, Issue 33, Page 31

Published in Print: June 10, 2009, as Quality of Life, Not Jobs, Should Be Education’s Goal
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories