NORMATIVE CONCEPT OF EDUCATION

Educational systems based on the concept of what a student should learn by a certain age is essentially normative. This means by age x, all students should read. By age y, all students should know basic geometry, etc.

Education develops appreciation for certain norms or standards. For example, how do you judge a person good in housekeeping? Is it not when good housekeeping meets certain standards, certain criteria to satisfy? Similarly, education has certain standards or criteria to be fulfilled.

It consists of initiating others into

(a) doing activities that are ‘worthwhile’, and

(b) modes of conduct and thoughts which have standards written into them by which it is possible to act, think, and feel with varying degrees of skill, relevance and aesthetic sense.

Education has normative implications as it implies that something worthwhile is being intentionally transmitted in a morally acceptable manner. For example, can we say that a person ‘x’ is educated, yet there are no changes in his ways of thinking, attitudes, and behaviour? It would be contradiction to say this. Therefore, there are certain norms or standards by which we call a person as educated. It also implies that the person has undergone some worthwhile activities that we call as educative processes. In this context, what becomes important is the task achievement or processes that are worthwhile and intentional, in which one is engaged in a morally acceptable manner. For example, you know very well that education involves teaching and instruction to some extent, yet one may not be sure whether all teaching results in education. Though it may or may not result in education, definitely, it is not morally objectionable. But when a person uses conditioning as a method to educate an individual, just like the ways animals are conditioned to certain behaviour by rigorous training, then it is morally objectionable. So, conditioning or indoctrinating might be ruled out as the only process of education.

From the above, we may infer that educational practices are those in which people try to pass on what is worthwhile as well as those in which they actually succeed in doing so. Success may be evident by some of the characteristics such as sense of relevance, precision, applicability of knowledge, power to concentrate, higher order of thinking abilities, and so on.
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