chapter  5
18 Pages

THE EDUCATED CHILD

Discussion of educational objectives is sometimes prompted by asking what it means to be an educated man. The educated child is a less familiar notion. Whatever account we take of the idiosyncrasies of the individual learner, we find it difficult to escape the conclusion that the child is in school because he is a man in the making, because he is not yet educated. The common view of schooling is that its concern is preparation for a life to be lived in the future, the life of the adult as worker, citizen, parent. Schools are expected to make considerable concessions to the child's future needs and welfare. Parents, politicians and pundits in public life tend to believe that schooling should prepare children for life, their expectations varying from vague notions about the desirability of character training to the quite specific requirement that the child should be taught particular skills, especially those related to his future occupation. Sir John Adams once summarized this attitude to schooling as follows: 'Underlying all the popular views of the meaning of education is the belief that it is the preparation for a sphere of life that has not yet been entered. The most common form of this belief is represented in the saying that education is the apprenticeship of life. The implication is that while the young human being is an educand he is not really living. True life lies before him; all his present activity is merely a preparation for what is to come'.1 Adams went on to name a number of great educational thinkers from the past who subscribed, in differing degrees, to this anticipatory conception of education. Nor is this an outmoded view of the function of the school. A contemporary American educational psychologist with an intimate knowledge of life in classrooms has concluded that the conception of schooling as a

preparation for the future is axiomatic: 'From one point of view the school is properly described as a future-oriented institution. Its ultimate concern is with the future well-being of its clientele. A few educators may not like this description and may insist that school is life, and vice versa. But the preparatory function of school is hard to deny even in the earliest grades where the chief goal of education seems to be "enjoy, enjoy".'2