The functional side of education has been discussed by various thinkers. In “Democracy and Education”, John Dewey has discussed at length the functions of education. However, Prof. N.L. Jacks has observed: “As a whole, there is plenty of work for education to do; its prime task is to transfer the original evil into acquired good.” Thus the true function of education is to cultivate the true significance of life through integrated growth.
1. Education is all one with growth. Growth must be towards an ideal human character. ,
2. Education is the continuous reconstruction and reorganisation of experiences. The process involves inheritance, participation and contribution.
3. Education is direction. Direction must be towards certain social and personal standards and ideals.
1. Education is all one with Growth
John Dewey is of view that integrated growth of the individual lies at the heart of the business of education. In his own words: “Since growth is the characteristic of life, education is all one with growing”. He further says: “Our n conclusion is that life is development, and that developing, growing life. Translated into its educational process, this means that-
(i) The educational process has no end beyond itself; it is its own end;
(ii) The educational process is one of the continual reorganizing reconstructing, transforming.”
Let us not forget that there may be right growth or wrong grow abnormal growth or normal growth. Both the teachers and parent’s mu take proper safeguards to ensure growth in the right manner. It must lead to the formation of habits involving educative skills, definitive of interests and specific objects of observation and thought. “Growth must be towards an ideal human character.”
2. Education is the Continuous Reconstruction and Reorganisation of Experiences
John Dewey believes that “Education is the process of living through a continuous re-construction of experiences.
A close analysis of this view will make the point clear. The prior assumption is: the child has own experiences: Education reconstruct or reorganizes these experiences, refines them and gives them meaning the reconstruction or reorganisation of experiences adds to the further refinement of experiences. The two together develop the ability in it child to control and direct the subsequent experiences.
There are three focal points which must be kept in mind. These are:
Every new generation inherits experiences of the past generation.
Every new generation participates in the experience of the race. The superfluous elements of the cultural heritage are eliminated and the essential ingredients are preserved.
We not only participate but also contribute the experiences of the race by transmitting those experiences.
The three focal points-inheritance, participation and contribution-rolled into one constitute the process of continuous reconstruction and re-organisation of experiences. According to John Dewey, educative experiences further direct the subsequent experiences.
They help us in anticipating certain situations and consequences. We, therefore, plan our future experiences in such a way that we secure their “beneficial consequences and avert the undesirable ones.”
3. Education is Direction
Educating the child means directing the child properly. Direction is fixation of the activity into a proper response by elimination of unnecessary and confusing movements. In the words of Prof. V.R. Taneja, “Educative process is nothing but directing the children to have worthy interests in the various phases of life.”
Direction includes ‘guidance’ as well as ‘control’. This is the natural way of educating the child-‘to kindle and restrain’, as Wordsworth puts it.
Both the teacher and the parent have a special role to play. At home, the parents should appear as a model. At school, the teacher must set an example and inspire the child, through personal and impersonal methods to move in the right direction. Compulsion, threats and coercion must be avoided. Direction must be towards certain social and personal standards and ideals and these should be known to the teacher.