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Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education

Abstract

In this paper I argue that there is a need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education, particularly in the light of a recent tendency to focus discussions about education almost exclusively on the measurement and comparison of educational outcomes. I first discuss why the question of purpose should always have a place in our educational discussion. I then explore some reasons why this question seems to have disappeared from the educational agenda. The central part of the paper is a proposal for addressing the question of purpose in education—the question as to what constitutes good education—in a systematic manner. I argue that the question of purpose is a composite question and that in deliberating about the purpose of education we should make a distinction between three functions of education to which I refer as qualification, socialisation and subjectification. In the final section of the paper I provide examples of how this proposal can help in asking more precise questions about the purpose and direction of educational processes and practices.

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Biesta, G. Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educ Asse Eval Acc 21, 33–46 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11092-008-9064-9

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Keywords

  • Good education
  • Evaluation
  • Accountability
  • Aims of education
  • Evidence-based