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Aims of Education Revisited (Einstein’s E = MC2 of Education)

  • David J. Shernoff
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Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)

Abstract

Schooling cannot be evaluated nor improved without reference to the aims of education. This chapter presents a perspective on the aims of education from the little-known educational philosophy of Albert Einstein. Einstein held that, “…The aim (of education) must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals, who, however, see in the service of the community their highest life problem.” It is argued that the shortcoming of traditional education can be summarized as the tendency to produce the exact opposite result of Einstein’s aim, or its actual inversion. That is, too often, mass education in its quest for standardization interferes with the nurturing of independently acting individuals and their unique potential; and the common goals of the community are increasingly neglected as the implicit goal of education is perceived to be singularly focused on the pursuit of individualistic ends. Einstein’s “theory of motivation” emphasizing “holy curiosity” and joy in the subject matter is further expanded. Einstein’s viewpoint is consistent with modern conceptions of Positive Youth Development: It supports a vision of youth engagement as one of making of positive contributions to the self, others, and civil society. It can also help to ameliorate the growing sense that individual achievement and attainment is the ultimate goal not only in school but also in life. Rather, educators may come to understand one of their most important functions as identifying and supporting youths’ future directions and sense of mission based on their strengths, interests, and values.

Keywords

Intrinsic Motivation Positive Youth Development Individual Humanity Mass Education Youth Engagement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Many of the ideas in this chapter are based on those of Laurence McMillin, a master teacher at the Webb Schools of California who passed away in 2005, especially as written in his unpublished manuscript titled, “Einstein’s Theory and Practice of Education.” See Shernoff (2001/2012), for a life portrait of McMillin and discussion of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Shernoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations College of EducationNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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