Aims give direction to activities. Aims of education are formulated keeping in view the needs of situation. Human nature is multisided with multiple needs, which are related to life. Educational aims are correlated to ideals of life.
Ideals of life change from time to time. Ideals have impressed to teacher, philosophers and society to formulate suitable aims of education. Aims have been desirably modified. Out of several aims of education, individual and social aims are important.
Individual and Social Aims:
Individual aims and social aims are the most important aims of education. They are opposed to each other individual aims gives importance for the development of the individuality. Social aim gives importance to the development of society through individual not fulfilling his desire. But it will be seen that development of individuality assumes meaning only in a social environment.
Sir Percy Nunn observes, “Nothing goods enters into the human world except in and through the free activities of individual men and women and that educational practice must be shaped the individual. Education should give scope to develop the inborn potentialities through maximum freedom.”
(1) Biologists believe that every individual is different from others. Every child is a new and unique product and a new experiment with life. Thompson says, “Education is for the individual”. Individual should be the center of all educational efforts and activities.
(2) Naturalists believe that central aim of education is the autonomous development of the individual. Rousseau said, “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature, but everything degenerates in the hands of man.” God makes all things good, man meddles with them and they become evil. God creates everything good man makes it evil. So individual should be given maximum freedom for its own development.
(3) Psychologists believe that education is an individual process because of individual differences. No two individuals are alike. So education should be according to the interest of the individual.
Criticism of Individual Aim:
Individual aim is not desirable because man is a social animal. Society’s interest should be protected.
(1) Individual aim makes individual selfish.
(2) Maximum freedom may go against the society.
(3) Individuality cannot develop from a vacuum; it develops in a social atmosphere.
(4) Unless society develops, individual cannot develop.
(5) Who will recognize society- where individual is selfish?
The supporters believe that society or state is supreme or real. The individual is only a means. The progress of the society is the aim of education. Education is a for the society and of the society. The function of education is for the welfare of the state. The state will make the individual as it desires. It prepares the individual to play different roles in society. Individuality has no value, and personality is meaningless apart from society. If society will develop individual will develop automatically. Here society plays an important role.
Criticism of Social Aim:
(1) It makes individual only a tool of government.
(2) It reduces individual to a mere non-entity.
(3) Society ignores the legitimate needs, desires and interests of the individual.
(4) It is against the development of individuality of the individual.
Synthesis between individual and social aims of education:
Individual aim and social aim of education go independently. Both are opposing to each other. It is not in reality. Neither the individual nor the society can exist. The individual is the product of the society while society finds its advancement in the development of its individual member.
Individual cannot develop in vacuum. According to John Adams, “Individuality requires a social medium to grow.”
T.P. Nunn says,” Individuality develops in social environment.”
The true aim of education cannot be other than the highest development of the individual as a member of society. Let education burn the individual flame, feeding it with the oil of society.