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What Is the Purpose of Education? — AWTT Begins a Year of Teacher Workshops

This month, AWTT begins a series of professional development workshops for Maine teachers, funded by the Maine Community Foundation. Rob Shetterly and Connie Carter will hold seven of these workshops held in different places around the state (interested in hosting a workshop? see below). As we began talking with teachers about how to use Robert Shetterly’s portraits to engage students, build bridges between the classroom and the community, and enrich lessons in a range of subject areas, we realized that there was an underlying conversation that is worth having: 

What is the purpose of education? 

There is no single answer to this question, no right or wrong answers necessarily. But it offers teachers a moment of reflection, a way to think about what kind of teacher one would like to be and what one might want students to take away from the hours and hours spent together. 

As a part of our workshops, we will be having this discussion with lots of Maine teachers. We will report back what we find here, on the AWTT website. In the meantime, you can take part in the discussion here on our website. All you need to do is register for free to comment. 

To facilitate the conversation, we thought that AWTT should put its cards on the table and say how we, in this organization, think about education. After much discussion, we came up with three areas that we believe education needs to address. It should,

  • Inspire students to discover and develop their individual potential.
  • Create engaged citizens who are critical thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Help students connect their talents with their passions and to lead meaningful and sustainable lives. 

The portraits and related resources aim to help students realize these goals. And they aim to be a tool that teachers can use to inspire and challenge their students to reach their potential and engage with the world. 

Join the discussion about the purpose of education here! 

Several workshops are defined, but there is still an opportunity for  your school district to host a workshop, please contact Connie Carter for more information

Here are some ideas that education students at the University of Maine at Orono had, when asked to say what they thought were purposes of education:

  • To share truth, to increase knowledge, and to better the future generations
  • Formal education – build a foundation of communication – write, read, think, advise, orate, compliment, contribute
  • Informal education – to take yourself out into the world, build community, become a consciously balanced link.
  • To assist in an individual’s personal, physical, or intellectual growth.  
  • To expand human minds to see more of the world
  • To provide children with knowledge and resources on what to expect throughout their lives
  • Education is a skill set, with knowledge as your premier skill; it’s our job as teachers to make sure that skill is well-honed and polished.
  • Give a wide sense of knowledge, provide information of our past, which influences the present and future, make people more ready for the workforce, open people’s minds
  • Provide knowledge, create equality, and demonstrate worldly views
  • Share knowledge and learn about the world and everything in it
  • To pass on knowledge to future generations so that the younger generations can make the most out of the life they have been given; to use the full potential of our brain
  • Gaining the knowledge of a certain topic
  • To help students develop confidence and self-awareness; to broaden the world view
  • To teach needed skills like math, reading, and writing as well as valuable life lessons
  • To raise awareness of the diversity around us; to bring knowledge of today’s world to incoming generations about said diversity, relating all cultures to one another to show how we are all the same on some level
  • To show and help people know that they are more than they think.  To help them learn that they can change the world if they put their minds to it.  To show and tell them that they can be a superhero
  • To put children on the right path to reaching their full potential; to make every child feel valued and know their worth; to develop a foundation to lifelong learning and goal reaching; every child needs to feel loved
  • To gain knowledge, get a job, educate others, improve yourself
  • To pass on important information to others
  • A way adults and children can gather information and knowledge about various subjects and life to play an active and meaningful role in society
  • To help society change for the better; to help students find what they want to do
  • To teach all that we can so students can make better educated decisions for their future and achieve more positive outcomes
  • To teach a generation about pure thought and knowledge and how that knowledge turns into power
  • To keep society in a prgressive and advancing state
  • To open others’ minds about things they may or may not have known about before and to challenge them about other things they know
  • To prepare younger generations to succeed as an adult
  • To figure out what else there is in life; to keep younger generations up to date with history in case it ever occurs again; to open people’s minds
  • To be knowledgeable and pass it on; to know background information
  • To teach children the skills they will need to live a successful life
  • To instill necessary knowledge and values into younger people in order to prepare them for leading in the adult world
  • To help students better themselves; to learn about the outside world; to provide a safe environment; to keep growing as a person intellectually
  • To shape and form the future of the world and to give the future generation the facts and knowledge to do better than we did
  • To mold the young minds to help better the future
  • To teach children about the world around them as well as critical skills that are necessary in order to be a part of our American civilization (or other civilization)
  • To encourage/direct children’s thoughts and actions; to help children learn skills that will help them in the future
  • To help people learn and understand the world we live in; to gain understanding and insight; to inspire people to make a difference
  • To educate youth in our society; to give knowledge needed to be a citizen; socialization, career
  • To expand human minds to see more of the world than just the obvious aspects; to help people understand other people and how other individual’s minds work; to help people grow and understand themselves
  • To get a better view of the world; to learn how to work with other people and specialize
  • To enlighten and truly inspire kids to become more than they can be and have a well-grounded education for their future
  • To provide students with a foundation of knowledge that will ehelp them be able to succeed in the real world
  • To help children figure out who they are and what they want; to give them the proper tools to reach their dreams and full potential
  • To learn as much as we can and become well-rounded individuals
  • To expand knowledge of different subjects; to learn social skills; to find new interests, strengths; to be inspired by people in history or amazed by science
  • To learn, not only what comes out of the textbooks, but learn about others as well
  • To teach skills of how to interact with one another, to teach morals of life, to inform on general basics of life such as reading, writing, math
  • To both learn and teach; express individuality
  • To teach youth of any culture the tools they will need to survive in society and to help bring out the potential of any person in anything they want to do
  • To educate students on topics that are necessary for future jobs; to educate students on how to be a successful member of society
  • To share collected knowledge in an intergenerational, intercultural way to erode barriers
  • To help a person find a place they belong in and can contribute to in a community
  • To be the person kids look back at in 20 years and say “that’s my favorite teacher; she made the biggest difference.”
  • To prepare others for the future and give them the tools they need to succeed.  
  • To create more well-rounded human beings
  • To integrate everyone into the society and culture; to expand the mind and point kids in directions they may not have seen before, in a general sense
  • To teach anyone and everyone something that will benefit them for life
  • To pass down generations of knowledge and cultural awareness to our children so they can learn from our mistakes and be aware of the changes in the world

Bring Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) original portraits to your community.