The Ultimate Purpose of Education

So much of what we learned ten years ago is now obsolete that we can hardly be surprised if the usefulness of learning is questioned. "What's the good of studying when what I'm supposed to learn today will be out-of-date tomorrow?" may be Junior's excuse for laziness. The argument might be said to have some validity in view of the speed of modern progress if it were not that there is more purpose to education than the accumulation of human data. Ideally, it should involve for the learner the development of his understanding of truth and of the actual nature of his individuality.

Looking further, we may take the hint that education should not be considered a one-time experience. We may recognize that it is not enough to work at learning during a prescribed period in our youth and think that the following, longer period between graduation in our teens or twenties and retirement from business is the time to rest on our oars and learn nothing more.

It is obvious now, much more than ever before, that we cannot expect what we have learned in our first two decades to be sufficient to see us through the whole of a normal span of life, when thought and conditions are changing so relentlessly. We need to extend our education indefinitely, or else we are likely to drop not only out of step with the times but from the ranks of the useful. As for our understanding of truth and the development of our actual identity —how long that will take "no man knoweth."

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October 18, 1975

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