Politics Magazine

What’s the Point of Education? – Modern Koans

By Andrew Furst @a_furst

Question: What is the point of education when it’s about doing well on tests and not on being enlightened?

My response: I think the question is leading and makes incorrect assumptions. The point of education is not limited to doing well on tests. That’s a cynical view. I would make 2 points about this from my experience

  1. Education is more than testing – You’re probably talking about public education. That’s a fair generalization, but I come from the homeschool community and we don’t educate our kids with the same goals in mind. Testing is a way to measure public school teacher’s performance. My kids didn’t have to deal with that and were able to focus on learning.
    • Public school is a kind of education, but not all education is public.
    • Regardless of the type, kids come out learning all kinds of useful things, they go on to careers or continue learning in other ways. While taking tests is not necessarily the best measurement tool, it takes learning to pass a test. So you can’t discount the value of testing as a learning tool.
  2. Choosing Enlightenment vs Education – This is a false dichotomy. We need both, not one or the other. Each points out the other. Enlightenment is inherent, learning is not. Each reflect the two intertwined aspects of the universe. Schooling prepares you for the ever changing world. Knowing your inherent Buddha Nature gives you insight to the unchanging; the Tathagata; the world as it is.

Your question implies choosing ignorance for enlightenment. Choosing ignorance is never a good thing.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Modern Koans is an ongoing series that recognizes that good questions are often more important then their answers.

The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man. ― G.K. Chesterton

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