Analysis Of The Purpose Of Education And The Role Of The Teacher

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Malala Yousafzai stated in her book ‘I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban’ in 2013, that ‘the power of education frightens them…let us pick up our books and our pens, they are our most powerful weapons’. Education has a powerful influence on society and gives us the ability to arm ourselves with the skills needed for life. Not only does education help to eliminate inequalities, giving children the opportunities to have an equal and fair start in life regardless of their background, it also develops characteristics and life skills that go beyond their academic growth and knowledge. Among other things, like teaching subject knowledge, education teaches personal discipline, rights and responsibilities in their individual lives, as well as in social and political life. Education is vital in cultivating the skills needed for the future and for allowing children to start forming valuable opinions and views about the world. On top of that, schooling provides the facilities to improve an individual’s creativity, resourcefulness and understanding of different ways of life. In my essay, I aim to examine more closely the purpose of education and also the role of the teacher. In regards to studying the role of the teacher, I want to identify how important their role is in aiding the student’s personal and academic growth, as well as looking into particular attributes and traits embodied by the teacher that further benefit the student and their learning. It is clear that for a student to gain a teacher that understands their emotional needs as well as academic that they as a student, would be more likely to thrive and succeed. In the first section of my essay, I will discuss the purpose of education, followed on by my next section about the role of the teacher, by the end of my essay I aim to be able to evaluate the most significant factors surrounding education and teaching.

Purpose of Education

It is difficult to pinpoint just one specific answer on what the purpose of education is, however development, whether that be personal, societal or academic, appears to be the most agreed upon response by many teachers, students and policymakers. According to Nick Gibb at the Education Reform Summit, education has three main purposes. Firstly, education should be empowering young people to succeed in the economy; secondly, it should inspire participation in culture and finally, it should allow young people to leave school and be prepared for adult life (Gibb, 2015). Education teaches valuable life skills for a working adult career. It aids in personal development and helps to grow and shape the confidence to engage in future roles, the ‘true purpose of education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue…wisdom and virtue are needed not only in our personal and social lives but also in our professional and economic lives’ (Gow, Haven Bradford, 1989:545). Without education building the framework for future career paths, we would not be able to adequately function as a society. Not only does learning promote wisdom and virtue, but it also strengthens an individual’s ability to critically analyse. It is important to establish within children the ‘habits of the mind’ so that they are able to acquire transferrable resources that they can adapt into their everyday life and future employment. In particular, it is crucial for young people to work on and feed their curiosity and resilience, to be able to balance the logical mind with imagination, to ask for help and take criticism and to be able to think things through thoroughly and reflect (Claxton, 2008). Sharing a similar view to Nick Gibb, in ‘The Purpose of Education: Peace, Capitalism and Nationalism’, Kern Alexander discusses that education, again, has three purposes. Education should have the purpose of promoting peace, a capitalistic economic system and nationalism (Alexander, 1994:17). It is clear to see that education is not as simple as just gaining knowledge throughout school years, but is massively significant in the wider development of an individual and what they can contribute to society. This actively illustrates that an individual’s intelligence is quite simply just the basis of the purpose of education; education is needed in order to cultivate their ability to become well-rounded people. It is imperative that children learn from a young age to be thoughtful, reflective, considerate and reasonable and to be able to question things taking place around them and to evaluate all sides of a situation in order to be able to reason. Not only does education teach them subject-based knowledge, but at the same time, it demonstrates and teaches young people how to learn. Being able to read, write, problem-solve, find relevant information and answers, are essential skills needed to be able to be effective employees or employers. Outside of studying the curriculum, education also instils in students lifelong habits that are needed for their forthcoming working lives, in particular ‘as adults, they will need to be able to get to work on time, dress and behave appropriately, and get their work done in a timely manner (Kelly, 2019); all skills of which are strengthened daily in the school environment. Therefore one of education’s main purposes is socialisation- young people need to be introduced into the wider society, taught how to work with their peers and need to be introduced to the values and norms of their community (Richards, 2018).

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Following on from this, in schools, a variety of subjects are taught- most are academic, however, some subjects follow a more practical or philosophical approach. It is important to have a vast range of subjects as students receive a better overview of the world. Some learners thrive better through exams and essays, some on the other hand learn better through working practically; it is important that all approaches to education are incorporated to give all learners the best chance of success. Building on this, subjects such as PSHE (personal, social and health education) and religious studies are taught in schools. It is extremely beneficial for our ever-changing society for young people to be taught from a young age about different beliefs, cultures and people within society. Especially regarding religious education, studying different religions contributes to a more knowledgeable, accepting and diverse but cohesive society (The Irish Times, 2020). Young people having a greater awareness of various cultures and religions would teach them how to respect others on a deeper level and teach them how to be considerate of the fact that not everyone shares the same beliefs and views. Not only this but religion is a factor in which influences our everyday lives through the use of art, literature, songs and stories etc.; learning this would aid in developing knowledge, understanding and would help young people to grasp the meaning and attitudes behind everyday things. Having been taught about different religions at a young age, students would be able to advance into the world of work with greater respect for their colleagues and acquaintances, making them more well-rounded individuals. In conjunction with this, being taught PSHE and religious studies also helps the students to identify and discover who they are as individuals, as well as helping them to accept those around them who may be different. In later life this could help them choose a career, and progress into jobs they are more likely to thrive in and it could also help them establish closer, more meaningful relationships in all aspects of their life.

Role of the Teacher

Teachers play a fundamental role in a student’s education. Being a teacher is more than simply delivering information to a class, it is also about forming constructive bonds with students and helping them to advance into working, thriving young people. Educators understand the importance of creating an environment in which students feel safe and comfortable to learn. Furthermore, teachers also recognise the significance of embodying many different qualities and characteristics that are needed to become a trusted figure in a student’s life that they are willing to learn from. If a teacher projects enthusiasm and passion for a subject, students will be more willing to focus and learn. One of the main roles is to motivate learners to develop their ability and aspiration to learn (Machin et al., 2015:31). To be able to achieve this, an effective teacher should be able to be a good communicator, be respectful, understanding and inclusive of a student’s personal needs; they should be able to effectively manage a class by being firm and fair and communicating that everyone has an equal right to learn and have a good education in an undisrupted environment. Being able to effectively manage a class maximises student engagement with a lesson and helps in teaching appropriate social behaviour and relationships (Chaplain, 2018). Teachers aim to keep children engaged in their learning in order to cultivate and develop their self-control, behaviour and self-regulation (Chaplain, 2018). The responsibility of managing a class and keeping the environment undisrupted remains a stressful task for teachers. However, it is important for teachers when managing a class to continue with using respect and being firm. Teachers need to pay close attention, both, to what they say and how they say it; remaining in control not only reinforces to students how they should behave, it also creates a sense of respect from students for their teachers (a skill in which is transferable to the world of work). Being fair and being inclusive to students helps to keep a class under control.

Not only are teachers there to teach, but they also have many other responsibilities. For instance: it is important that educators promote a safe and supportive environment, equality and diversity and professional behaviour at all times. Additionally, they have to work closely with their pupils to accurately negotiate targets and personal learning paths. Students look to their teachers for guidance, not only with regards to their education but also for emotional, physical and financial support and advice. Arguably one of the most important aspects of being a teacher is being entirely inclusive; encouraging no discrimination regardless of religion, gender, social class, academic ability, language, disability or sexual orientation, ‘education that transforms is only possible in a school climate where everyone’s rights are respected , responsibility for oneself and others is encouraged’ (Hayes, 2012:6). Teachers have a responsibility to carry out their job with a keen awareness of all those involved (students and teachers) and to have a great sensitivity to their personal, as well as, academic needs (Hayes, 2012:5). Promoting such inclusive qualities allows children to grow up having an open mind and being respectful to their peers. Most teachers prefer not to label children as labelling them may not completely represent the person as a whole and their abilities. At the same time, however, labelling students could allow them to receive individualised educational help, giving them all the same chance for success and equal education. Building on this, it has been documented that students tend to work and respond better with, and value a teacher who has personal qualities of kindness, sympathy and patience (Musgrove and Taylor, 1969:17). Inclusive teachers help their students further by explaining things in a clear manner so that all abilities have the opportunity to understand (Alexander, 2010:148). To be an inclusive teacher, you have a responsibility to have a good understanding of how each of your students has grown and developed. Each child will have grown up in a family with its own culture and range of experiences (Payler et al., 2018); therefore learning needs to be tailored to the individual. Another responsibility of a teacher is to encourage the creative growth of the students they are teaching. Creativity is now considered a critical life skill, especially in a world dominated by continuous technological advancements (Cremin et al., 2018:429). It is becoming increasingly clear that human skills and people’s imaginative and innovative powers are key resources in a knowledge-driven economy (Robinson, 2009). In order to develop creativity, teachers use active learning, mainly focused on playing and exploring. Research conducted shows that involving creative and collaborative projects into children’s education inspired and fostered creative skills and raised children’s and young people’s confidence and aspirations (Eames et al., 2006). Not only that but introducing creative group projects helps to develop teamwork skills, which would later be useful within the world of work. As well as developing teamwork skills, the more creative way of learning teaches resilience, problem-solving and critical thinking. This also ties in with the purpose of education as it shows how these different learning techniques to aid in personal development.


To summarise, education has many different purposes, however, it mainly leans towards the development of the individual. It gives children and young people the tools and knowledge to work towards their future careers and to help them progress and understand who they are as a person. Education helps individuals to establish their own identity and creativity, as well as prepare them for adult life. Education’s main purpose focuses around socialisation – teaching children how to grow and act in their society, how to transfer what they learn in school into skills they can use in their employment and how to work with their peers and those in authority. Without education, our society wouldn’t have the resources it needs to function adequately. It is crucial for children to have a focus on their personal progression; learning how to be thoughtful, reflective, considerate, respectful and reasonable and learning how to think critically, question and weigh up both sides of an argument. It also teaches students basic life skills such as how to read, write, problem-solve, find relevant information and answers, all of which are essential skills needed to be able to be capable and valuable employees or employers. A variety of subjects are taught within a school environment, all of which help to support students in the approaches to learning they work within the best way. Subjects such as religious studies and PSHE were introduced into the school curriculum to educate young people about different cultures and beliefs. Learning from a young age about these different attitudes to life allows the students to grow up being respectful of people’s views, even if they differ from their own. Neglecting religious education in schools would mean young people would grow up naïve and carry a sense of prejudice towards those who followed a different way of life. Subjects like PSHE and religious education also encourage young people to look closer at themselves and decide who and what they want to be and achieve in life. Subjects like this are vital as they serve to benefit young people in choosing the path they want to take in life. In addition to this, it is important to recognise the role of the teacher and how important their involvement is in a child’s education. Teachers not only have to be knowledgeable about the subject in which they are teaching, but they also need to possess valuable characteristics in order to become a respected adult and role model in their student’s lives. Teachers form close bonds with their pupils in order to closely evaluate what each individual student requires to progress them further. It is important for all students to have an equal education; therefore teachers have to be inclusive. They encourage no discrimination regardless of religion, gender, social class, academic ability, language, disability or sexual orientation and promote respect instead. In a way, teachers teach more basic life skills than they do specific subject knowledge. They focus on introducing discipline, communication, hard work and respect. Teachers aim to create an environment in which students feel comfortable and safe in, allowing them to work to their full potential and gain in confidence in their abilities. Teachers themselves have to stay and work in a professional manner at all times, acting as a role model and showing children how to behave. Looking at both the purpose of education and the role of a teacher, creativity is a common theme that is encouraged to be taught and learnt. As the world progresses with technological advancements, creativity is a crucial skill to possess; it allows young people to adapt to the continuous changes the world faces every day and makes them more employable in the future. Overall it is clear to see that education and teaching his vital in creating a well-functioning society.

Reference List

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