Notes on the individual and social aims of Education


Like any other human activity, education should have its own aims and objectives. Since education changes according to the changing needs and conditions of the society, the aims of education also vary from time to time in the same society and from society to society at a particular point of time.

As ideals of life change from time to time, aims of education also change accordingly. T.P. Nunn has, therefore, said, “Educational aims are correlative to ideals of life”.

Like a sailor in a vessel, an educator has to direct his activities in a particular direction. This direction means that aids of education, lessons, methods of teaching, school organization, teaching materials and examination methods adopted by the teacher are all directed towards these aims.


Without particular aims, educational activities cannot be meaningful and purposeful. Dewey has rightly pointed out “to have an-aim is to act with meaning not like an automatic machine; it is to mean to do something and to perceive the meaning of things in the light of that intent”. Thus, education in order to be effective and useful has to have its own aims and objectives.

Individual Aims of Education:

Education prepares the pupil for becoming good individuals. Good individuals can realize his rights and perform his duties properly. The school should do its best for developing the child’s personality in all aspects and for bringing out his innate abilities to their full growth. T.P. Nunn, a strong advocate of individualism in education, has forcefully laid down “that nothing good enters into the human world except in and through the free activities of individual man and woman and that educational practice must be shaped to accord with that truth”.

Bertrand Russell, another distinguished individualist argues that everybody should be a good individual first and then everything else. The potentialities of an individual should be developed at first and then be utilized for him as well as for the society.


Russell has further pointed out that if individualism is not properly developed, none can achieve distinction in life. Laski, Huxley and Proper, the famous supporters of individualism have also opined that the welfare of the society can be built upon the well-being of the individuals.

Social Aims of Education

Man lives and gets his needs satisfied only in the society. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher has aptly said that the man who does not live in the society is either a god or a beast.

According to the social aim of education, the individual has to be prepared as an integral part of the society. There should be full control of the society over the individual.


The extreme form of social aim of education views the state as the glorified individual. The state therefore, must have absolute control over the lives and activities of the individuals. Education is the means of exercising this control. The will of the state is to be reflected in the curriculum, methods and materials of the education system.

In the ancient Sparta, a Greek city State and modern Germany under Nazi regime, such state control on education was excessive. The whole education was an exercise of obedience and brutal punishment was given for any misconduct or disobedience.

Another group of educationists like Bagley and Dewey hold that social aim of education is to bring about social efficiency in the individual. Such social efficiency is the test for judging the success of educational practice.

The social aim of education should also take the form of social service and citizenship training. The spirit of service, sacrifice and co-operation should be developed through all the school programmes and practices.

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