People think the Tory education secretary needs to educate himself about the point of education

People think the Tory education secretary needs to educate himself about the point of education

Why should people be able to access education?

To learn about themselves and the world around them? To equip them with life skills? For the sheer joy of learning?

Apparently not, according to education secretary Gavin Williamson.

He thinks education is all about getting a good job, which seems a little reductive, don't you think?

In a virtual speech in which Williamson tore up existing targets of sending 50 per cent of young people to university and outlined a new German-style further education system, he explained what he thought the purpose of education was.

After talking about how the further education system (which tends to be training studies for vocational occupations) was failing those who didn’t go to university and that there needed to be a shift away from “snobbishness” that viewed higher education as better than the alternative path.

“We must never forget that the purpose of education is to give people the skills they need to get a good and meaningful job,” Williamson said.

And while much of his plan has been praised by people who do believe more robust alternatives to university should be offered, that line has caused some consternation, among both the left and the right.

One teacher disagreed with Williamson, saying they believed education was to help individuals and society lead a “happy and fulfilling life”, which work made up only one aspect of.

The dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Birmingham certainly took issue with Williamson’s assertion.

Others said the “undervaluing” of education that Williamson highlighted in his speech was ironically because of attitudes like believing learning was solely for an employment purpose.

Another teacher said education should not just be a “market commodity”.

And a deputy headteacher joked that Williamson’s comment would be so unpopular with teaching professionals, he’d bring “warring” factions together in agreement.

Perhaps the education minister needs an education of his own?

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