Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

September 13, 2010

What should be the single focus of education if we could agree on only one goal?

#Edchat  8-31-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

One goal for Education - what is it?

Thank you to Katherine Maloney (@1katty) for this summary of #edchat. Last week’s discussion was fast and furious and I think this is reflected in Katherine’s post here – so many tweets and so many great ideas! Thank you Katherine for a very comprehensive and thoughtful summary. Read Katherine’s bio at the end of the post.

For those of us involved in the daily grind of school, today’s #edchat helped us all to take a step back and look at the big picture:  what should be the single focus of education if we could agree on only one goal?  @rliberni and @ShellTerrell were our moderators, and they, as usual, did a brilliant job.  Thank you!

 While final consensus on a single focus of education may be difficult to reach, my personal takeaway from this #edchat was the realization that it is extremely important for us to try to arrive at one.  My experience in life has taught me that success cannot be achieved without clear goals.  While the process of identifying these goals may be a difficult and messy one, I do believe that it can be done and that doing so will be worth it in the long run.     

 Please see below for a summary of the main themes of the discussion and a selection of a few of my favorite tweets from it. 

Main themes from the discussion: 

  • Suggestions for a suitable focus for education included:  life-long learning; critical thinking and problem-solving; helping students to find and pursue their passion(s); learning from failure; global citizenship; creativity; fun. 
  • Several suggested that there was a need for a clarification of terms:  is the right word “focus,” or “vision,” “mission,” “philosophy” or some other?
  • Participants in the discussion also reminded us that “education” need not be confined to “school.”    
  • The more conventional ideas that education should focus on preparing students for success on exams, college, future employment, etc. were also debated; it was generally agreed that these should be referred to as “targets” or “outcomes” rather than as “focuses,” and that these targets need not be the same for everybody.  
  • Predictably, questions were raised about whether or not it is possible, or even desirable, to identify one, single focus for education.  While being focused and having clear goals can help to bring about powerful change, a “one size fits all” approach to education could end up excluding many.  
  • The questions of how we arrive at this agreement – the obstacles that are preventing agreement from being reached – and how to turn the agreement (if it can indeed be arrived at) into a reality were also discussed.  For example, who gets to decide on this focus – the students, the teachers, the parents, or…?  Once established, how can we ensure that there is no conflict between individual or local interests and national or international ones, or even between student/parent/teacher/school goals?  How can we ensure that everyone interprets the goal in the same way?  How can we know whether or not the goal has been achieved (i.e. how do we measure a goal such as “life-long learning”?  Portfolios, or…?)?  Finally, how can educators implement a goal such as “instill a life-long love of learning” within our current system – an often limiting and restrictive one?      
  • While there was not final agreement on whether there should be one focus or many, or what exactly this focus (or focuses) should be, most participants in this discussion did agree that change is needed, and that it can only be accomplished by working together and involving all of the key stakeholders in the decision-making process.  Parents and policy-makers are an important part of this discussion, though very few if any were present in our #edchat.         

A selection of some of my favorite tweets (organized according to theme): 

 Ideas for a single focus: 

@Mollybmom: Inviting our students to engage as life long learners.
@CrudBasher:  Single purpose of education: To help each child reach their full potential.
@Mollybmom: Personal reflection, self discovery, curiosity, asking questions and seeking answers…owning the learning.
@andycinek:  Single focus options:  adapt, change, learn, fail, discover.
@1katty:  How about – “tailoring individual learning experiences so as to meet the unique needs of each student”?
@tracymercier:  My largest goal is for them to be socially responsible. Everything else is gravy. 
@lisalearner:  The principle goal of education is to create men [and women] who are capable of doing new things. – Jean Piaget
@SECottrell:  That they invest their lives in pursuing the greatest good for every life they touch.
@Lauren_Learning:  Lifelong learning is the only sustainable focus. If we simply teach skill mastery, the learning ends when students leave school.
@malcolmbellamy: Education should be about preparation for life, not exams. 
@sjhannam:  Education should be about preparation for life, but life = competition in job market nowadays.  Exams are gatekeepers.  How do we change this?
@smitha834:  I agree with the push back on exams but educators need to show the public what’s going on and that they’re not afraid to be assessed.
@tomwhitby: Are students ever allowed to establish a goal beyond stating what they want to be when they grow up?

“Focus,” “Goal,” Or…?
@TechCzech:  We need to differentiate between aspirations, goals and objectives. Let aspirations be lofty. Goals realistic. Objectives measurable.

One goal, or many? 
@web20classroom:  Should there be just one goal? Can there be just one goal?
@domi75P:  One goal seems impossible.  There is so much diversity among people it would be easier to define what we do not want. 
@discomfortzone:  Is it wrong for schools to differ? Do they need to be universal? Have the same goals?
@drtimony:  Single focus? Options.
@TechCzech:  I went to school in a country (Czechoslovakia) where all “educators” agreed. Not sure it was for the best.
@CrudBasher:  I am for charters, public, private, unschooling, handschooling, online, offline and not invented yet. More choices!
@tonychilders: Anything beyond two or three goals waters down efforts and distracts. 
@lisalearner:  Without the same goals, we’ll never reach any goals. A divided house can’t stand, right?
@W3iGHTLESS:  Yes, but does agreement on one goal honor the diversity of our students? As long as the overarching goal is broad enough.
@lemino:  I think all movements have a defined vision, passionate leaders who define vision for others who run with it! We need that in education!
@tomwhitby: If educators cannot agree on where we are going, how can we ever get from where we are, to where we need to be?
@1katty:  Without a clear overarching goal, perhaps educators make themselves more vulnerable to the latest fad or trend.

@ShellTerrell:  What is preventing us from agreeing on one educational goal?
@michellek107:  Success defined differently by different people from different cultures and places.
@SECottrell:  Agreeing on realistic goals for students requires a vision of the world they will live in. 
@sjhannam:  Educators in a school may agree with goal, but interpret differently what that means. Uniformity unrealistic?
@CrudBasher:  Here’s a related question: Who currently determines the goal of education?
@tomwhitby: What if a parent’s goal for the child’s education is not in sync with the school’s?
@tracymercier:  Unfortunately, we are all mandated to teach specific content (NOT concepts) that limits the amount of autonomy we provide students.
@tomwhitby: Lifelong learning only happens when people control their learning. If that’s the goal,when do kids control their learning in our system? 
@sjhannam:  We need to ask why teachers are not involved in policy making.  What’s the point of educational policy? Why is it discriminatory?
@ShellTerrell:  Is education transformation halted by educators not agreeing on one goal or a few goals?

  Let’s not make excuses for why it is hard to achieve this goal and start focusing on accomplishing the task. 
@michellek107:  Schools, communities, and parents must partner together for children’s education.  Not in sync – need to meet and discuss.
@web20classroom:  Big goals must be supported with action steps that move everyone in the right direction.
@smitha834:  To truly disrupt education change needs to include the constituent stakeholders; if less are alienated more can make a movement.
@cybraryman1: Love to see us take all these wonderful ideas and meld them into our mission statement for education.
@smitha834:  My #edchat takeaway: my goal is to disrupt education by focusing on learners, community, and process. School is anywhere learning occurs.


To follow the complete discussion see here 

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

 As ever, there were some great links shared:

andycinek:  My goal this year in edu is to teach and learn without boundaries and to understand that I may fail http://bit.ly/cr4uDE  #edchat #edcamp

web20education:  #edtech20 #edchat Why Teachers Are The New Principals.: Read the full article at New York http://url4.eu/7DPBO

briankotts:  European Lifelong Learning Indicators (ELLI) places the Nordic nations at the top of the list. http://bit.ly/9rFqPW #edchat

TechCzech:  I think Becker’s results from 60s still hold. Students selforganize their efforts around institutional goals. http://j.mp/cZ4Pod #edchat

TechCzech: My take on the fate of goals in education: ‘A Becker attractor’ http://j.mp/9Vgo96 #edchat

DeronDurflinger:  New blog post #cpchat http://bit.ly/b6Itrw  Threat to the Status Quo, What are you doing to change the system? #edchat #vanmeter

malcolmbellamy:  RT @rliberni: @discomfortzone this is a great failing with our systems Ken Robinson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY  #edchat

cybraryman1:  @tomwhitby When students are ready how about Self-Directed Learning? My SDL page http://bit.ly/9Z9VLW  #edchat

lemino:  @W3iGHTLESS @discomfortzone Start by making learning fun. Knowledge – a game. http://bit.ly/cusRcw

andycinek:  Just completed a 2.46 mi run – In edu and learning the goal is not a finish line. #edchat. http://rnkpr.com/a9jo1p  #RunKeeper

Tina_Barr:  @Parentella I agree! http://bit.ly/90qspd  issues such as this make it hard to motivate the communitee

rliberni:  Some views on learning and edu Amy Tan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D0pwe4vaQo&feature =channel

rliberni:  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fnh9q_cQcUE&feature =related Tom Woodward

rliberni:  and Edward de Bono http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjSjZOjNIJg&feature=related  #edchat

lemino: @lisalearner This reminds me of the question “what is peace?” here: http://bit.ly/diO6fu  #edchat

TechCzech:  Parents’ images of education are one of the factors behind the persistence of the “grammar of schooling” Cf http://j.mp/dpa9t1

lemino:  @ShellTerrell been watching @SirKenRobinson http://youtu.be/r9LelXa3U_I talk about revolution and not evolution. Goal?

CrudBasher:  @tomwhitby This is your brain. http://bit.ly/96rv55  This is your brain on #Edchat http://bit.ly/bS68pn

My name is Katherine Maloney, and I have been teaching IB English and Theory of Knowledge overseas for the past 12 years. I have a passion for reading, writing, the environment, traveling, art, yoga, and for using technology to enhance my students’ learning.  You can read more at my blog “KatScan”, or by following me on Twitter at 1katty

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!



  1. What should be the single focus of education if we could agree on only one goal?…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Trackback by World Wide News Flash — September 13, 2010 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

    • Thnak you for this!

      Comment by rliberni — September 13, 2010 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: