Education is a poor tool for pursuing social equality



Education is a poor tool for pursuing social equality. Education cannot produce equality, because it assumes equality! Asserting that we can all become better versions of ourselves, education assumes that we are all capable of improvement. And the possibility of improvement follows from our susceptibility (and vulnerability) to change, which we all share equally.


Etymologically, the word education means "to draw forth" or "to draw out". The purpose of education is to draw forth the potential of each learner. Early in life, human potentials are highly aligned and tightly bundled: all infants work at learning to perceive, to move, to communicate. Moving and communicating with confidence, children begin to show varied interests and aptitudes. Well educated humans become even more individuated. No two leaves on the tree of knowledge are identical. Analogously, the distinctive mark of education is not mastery, but idiosyncrasy.


Education is among the strongest natural allies of a democracy, for both institutionalize the insight that human equality stems from human variety (Lauren Barbeau).


Education can never guarantee employment, happiness or justice. The core purpose of education is to cultivate ordinary human variety so that it blooms.

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