These guys were discussing some rather heavy questions. On an empty stomach. One wonders how they could. But they were busy discussing a rather weighty question, and that too quite loudly. They seemed to have a difference in opinion about the topic. This was about what is the purpose of education (how do they even think up these things to discuss). Well, it started out with how much fun homework used to be (probably as much fun as a headache and an upset stomach at the same time), and how the school bags of children today are sometimes bigger than the kids themselves.
From here, the inevitable question that came up was about why children have to go to school in the first place. And this would, of course, lead to the question of why education is needed in the first place. So what is the purpose of education? Laurel is of the opinion that the purposae of education is to enable us to understand the world around us. It helps us to make sense of the world, understand how the world works, and why it works in the way it does. In other words, if someone is know the world, he or she needs education. To this, Hardy responded with the idea that experience is probably a far more valuable tool to understanding the world than education is. Of course, education is required, for it gives you a launching pad, but that cannot be the end all of learning about the world. Hardy was asking Laurel how much of what folks study in school or college is applied by them in their day to day life. Not much, but that only means that the educational system has much to talk about. Laurel believes in the economic definition of education, where education is seen as a signal to prospective employers about the abilities of the candidate, and this is important in the absence of ways of more comprehensive understanding people applying for the job. So the whole value of education is signaling.
But then, education has to be much more than preparing students for the job market. Of course, preparing students for jobs is very important. Thats not where the role of education ends, though. The role of education is to open the mind, heart, and soul, to understand, feel, and experience the world. For example, the very purpose of studying literature is to appreciate the charm of literary works, and how they appeal to particular faculties of human beings. Or, how music or poetry engages the heart, mind, and soul. And this is how education plays the role of getting children acquainted with the heights that our civilization has reached, and the depths to which it has gone, so they can build a world better and more delightful than what they inherit. This can be understood from a variety of subjects, including literature, science, mathematics, history, art, and so on. This, indeed, is the goal of education.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said:
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.