Blog Post 2…The purpose of education…

The Purpose of Education is… : 2¢ Worth

Posted on | February 3, 2011

David Warlick

There was a quote on this blog  post that I loved, and really got me thinking.  The replies to the post were just and interesting to me:

One of the most interesting sessions at Educon this year was facilitated by Chad Sansing and Meenoo Rami, both of them Science Leadership Academy faculty.  The title was Hacking School: the EduCon 2.4 Hackjam.  I didn’t know what to expect – and what actually happened was beyond any expectation.

They gave groups of four or five of us, collections of objects (tiny cotton balls, crayons, blocks, etc.) and a complete Monopoly set. We were instructed to play the game, but told that players, as part of taking their turn, were required to change the rules in some way.  On my first turn, I was at such a loss that the best rule I could make was that if you couldn’t come up with a rule, then you had to figure out a way of wearing a colorful pipe cleaner.  Someone may have uploaded a photo to Flickr.

The rule I took away from the game was to never play monopoly with anyone more than 40 years younger than you.  We had a great time of not taking any of it very seriously.

As the debriefing began, it became apparent that there was intent behind the activity that had not been communicated by the facilitators.  But, then, the conversation became part of the game, where we continued to change the rules – and our own insights – as we exchanged our exceedingly diverse experiences.

Then Sansing and Rami introduced us to Hackasaurus, a tool that enables you to take most any web page, examine it’s underlying code, and then hack that code to change the look and content of the page.  Of course you are changing a local copy of the page, not the page itself.  Understanding the code of web publishing is the ostensible purpose.  But I kept thinking about the playful learning that might result from asking students to hack particular web pages within the context of some current topic of study in history, science, etc.

Then, what really kicked me in the head was when someone said, from a perspective much broader than just any computer, that

“..anyone who is not a programmer is part of the program.”

Sounds of thunder resounded in my skull.  Then one of those startling moments followed, where previously held notions began to breakdown and recombine into something new.

“What is the purpose of education?”  It’s a frequently asked question these days and I have long said and written that the purpose of education is to prepare our children for their future.  Now I believe that,

The purpose of school is to prepare our children To Own Their Future!

Are we (educators) making programmers, or are we just making software?

My reply:

Mary Pat
February 12th, 2012 @ 6:20 pm


I loved your thoughts on are we making programmers or are we making software? It actually reminded me of one of my favorite quotes : “You can give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime”. Your ideas are a modern version of this quote, I believe. I suppose we could add another dimension to the quote: “teach a man to analyze his catch, build the most effective boat and gear, and he feeds the world”. The more tools we can give students, the more prepared they will be to determine their own future. Technology definitely plays a role in that future-we have to use it (as pointed out in your example) to teach students to think outside the box and problem solve, so children have choices and are prepared for their future. Students should be allowed to “play” and explore.

Mary Pat

A few more thoughts:

Again, I could continue to reflect on this post. I think this is a great of example of how to use technology to do something “different” and think differently.  Warlick’s example of using the “hacking” program to “change” history is a great example of using technology to apply and challenge learned knowledge and information.  He provided a great example of his own by changing Bill Gates’ twitter feeds to say what this blogger would like Bill to say in his tweets.  We can’t rely on technology just to take tests-sure, they will provide more immediate feedback to the teacher and the student (a great benefit), but technology also needs to be used to be a “game changer”.


About marypatk

Student in the Curriculum and Instruction program at Illinois State University. Assistant Director of Special Education, Township High School District 211
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