Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of others, but may also be autodidactic. Anyexperience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. Education is commonly divided into stages such as preschool, primary school, secondary school and then college, university or apprenticeship.
A right to education has been recognized by some governments. At the global level, Article 13 of the United Nations’ 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognises the right of everyone to an education. Although education is compulsory in most places up to a certain age, attendance at school often isn’t, and a minority of parents choose home-schooling, e-learning or similar for their children.
Purpose of schools
Individual purposes for pursuing education can vary. The understanding of the goals and means of educational socialization processes may also differ according to the sociological paradigm used.
In the early years of schooling, the focus is generally around developing basic interpersonal communication and literacy skills in order to further ability to learn more complex skills and subjects. After acquiring these basic abilities, education is commonly focused towards individuals gaining necessary knowledge and skills to improve ability to create value and a livelihood for themselves. Satisfying personal curiosities (education for the sake of itself) and desire for personal development, to “better oneself” without career based reasons for doing so are also common reasons why people pursue education and use schools.
Education is often understood to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and status for all (Sargent 1994). Learners can also be motivated by their interest in the subject area or specific skill they are trying to learn. Learner-responsibility education models are driven by the interest of the learner in the topic to be studied.
Education is often perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentialities with the purpose of developing every individual to their full potential.
Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schoolsas organizations. Although the terms “educational psychology” and “school psychology” are often used interchangeably, researchers and theorists are likely to be identified as educational psychologists, whereas practitioners in schools or school-related settings are identified as school psychologists. Educational psychology is concerned with the processes of educational attainment in the general population and in sub-populations such as gifted children and those with specific disabilities.
Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between medicine and biology. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialties within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are usually housed within faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks (Lucas, Blazek, & Raley, 2006).
There has been much interest in learning modalities and styles over the last two decades. The most commonly employed learning modalities are:
- Visual: learning based on observation and seeing what is being learned.
- Auditory: learning based on listening to instructions/information.
- Kinesthetic: learning based on movement, e.g. hands-on work and engaging in activities.
Other commonly employed modalities include musical, interpersonal, verbal, logical, and intrapersonal.
Dunn and Dunn focused on identifying relevant stimuli that may influence learning and manipulating the school environment, at about the same time as Joseph Renzulli recommended varying teaching strategies. Howard Gardner identified a wide range of modalities in his Multiple Intelligences theories. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey Temperament Sorter, based on the works of Jung, focus on understanding how people’s personality affects the way they interact personally, and how this affects the way individuals respond to each other within the learning environment. The work of David Kolb and Anthony Gregorc’s Type Delineator follows a similar but more simplified approach.
Some theories propose that all individuals benefit from a variety of learning modalities, while others suggest that individuals may have preferred learning styles, learning more easily through visual or kinesthetic experiences. A consequence of the latter theory is that effective teaching should present a variety of teaching methods which cover all three learning modalities so that different students have equal opportunities to learn in a way that is effective for them. Guy Claxton has questioned the extent that learning styles such as VAK are helpful, particularly as they can have a tendency to label children and therefore restrict learning. Recent research has argued “there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice.”
As an academic field, philosophy of education is “the philosophical study of education and its problems (…) its central subject matter is education, and its methods are those of philosophy”. “The philosophy of education may be either the philosophy of the process of education or the philosophy of the discipline of education. That is, it may be part of the discipline in the sense of being concerned with the aims, forms, methods, or results of the process of educating or being educated; or it may be metadisciplinary in the sense of being concerned with the concepts, aims, and methods of the discipline.” As such, it is both part of the field of education and a field of applied philosophy, drawing from fields of metaphysics, epistemology,axiology and the philosophical approaches (speculative, prescriptive, and/or analytic) to address questions in and about pedagogy, education policy, andcurriculum, as well as the process of learning, to name a few. For example, it might study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimization of education as an academic discipline, and the relation between education theory and practice.
In formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses and their content offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latinword for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults. A curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard.
An academic discipline is a branch of knowledge which is formally taught, either at the university–or via some other such method. Each discipline usually has several sub-disciplines or branches, and distinguishing lines are often both arbitrary and ambiguous. Examples of broad areas of academic disciplines include the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, social sciences, humanities and applied sciences.
Educational institutions may incorporate fine arts as part of K-12 grade curricula or within majors at colleges and universities as electives. The various types of fine arts are music, dance, and theater.
Instruction is the facilitation of another’s learning. Instructors in primary and secondary institutions are often called teachers, and they direct the education of students and might draw on many subjects like reading, writing, mathematics, science and history. Instructors in post-secondary institutions might be called teachers, instructors, or professors, depending on the type of institution; and they primarily teach only their specific discipline. Studies from the United States suggest that the quality of teachers is the single most important factor affecting student performance, and that countries which score highly on international tests have multiple policies in place to ensure that the teachers they employ are as effective as possible. With the passing of NCLB in the United States (No Child Left Behind), teachers must be highly qualified. A popular way to gauge teaching performance is to use student evaluations of teachers (SETS), but these evaluations have been criticized for being counterproductive to learning and inaccurate due to student bias.
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