Forward Thinking: What Is the Purpose of Public Education?

I’ts that time of the month again! Head on over to Camels with Hammers to see Dan’s roundup of the posts written in response to his prompt about our ethical responsibilities in the face of shocking public violence two weeks ago. You may also want to check out the online philosophy classes Dan is offering using google hangout—they sound like an awesome experience! And now let’s turn to our next Forward Thinking prompt.

Recently, I’ve been devoting some time to writing about homeschooling here on the blog. So, when I started thinking about what my next Forward Thinking prompt should be, I immediately thought about public education. In today’s atmosphere of school choice and concerns about the quality of public schools, I don’t think it hurts to step back and ask ourselves about the purpose of public education. There was a time, after all, before public education. It’s not some sort of unchanging thing we’ve just automatically always had. And so I give you this month’s prompt:

What is the purpose of public education?

I want to invite readers to discuss this question in the comment section and to invite bloggers to respond on their own blogs. At the end of two weeks I will post a round-up of links and excerpts to both blog posts elsewhere and especially insightful comments here. Bloggers should email their links to lovejoyfeminism (at) gmail (dot) com with “Forward Thinking” in the subject line if they want to be included in the round-up.

Happy thinking and discussing!


Forward Thinking: A Values Development Project is an invitation to both readers and fellow bloggers to participate in forming positive values and grappling with thorny questions. Click here to read the project introduction.

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