Thus, the aims of education are apparently focused on the child.
According to Barrows and Woods (1999, p.8), the word education means "the criterion built into [it] that something worth while should be achieved." This essay shows various theories about the aims of education in relation to children’s lives-as a human right, as a process of growth, as a production of wisdom, and as guide to the adulthood of the child. Modern theorists are in favour of freedom and liberty in education while traditional schools are still tied up to old ideals.
Though not all theories are applicable to the modern society, some theories are still effective in other schools. The child remains to be the focus in almost all theories and philosophies in education today. Adults, specifically teachers and parents are given equal importance with each other in guiding the child’s development and growth into a rational human being and as a moral person.
Peters (1975, p.64) affirmed that Rousseau was one of the theorists who saw education as a process of growth where educational objectives and teaching methods were adapted to the child’s present stage of development. He has described in his book A Critique of Current Educational Aims that the school classroom is like a garden of children with the green-fingered teacher. In every crucial stage, the gardener’s or the teacher’s role is to give the children a chance to lead also like a gardener who watches them grow and blossom.
Rousseau’s Emile recognized and asserted children’s freedom and viewed happiness as dependent of such freedom (Miliaret 1975). But this freedom depends upon their weakness and so education is the way to edify them. He observed that children become dependent on their parents which have the basic responsibility to teach them. Moreover, he viewed that education frees people in order to develop and expose their talent, skills and individual callings to the extent despite the struggles and impairments in their human conditions. For Rousseau, the aim of education was more of a social and economic equality instead of children’s rights.
According to Peters (1975, p.63), education is concerned with people, and people live and therefore grow. These ideas, habits, attitudes, abilities, understanding and convictions that education provides can develop. Most educationists saw this growth as child-centred, which means that only a child can grow on his or her own instead of depending on his or her teacher to do it for him or her (Darling 1993). The child should be the agent of his own learning for education must be from the child and not into the child. This kind of education is described as self-education (Peters 1975).
One of the social aims of education that is also related with freedom is individualization (Brown 1970). Sir Perey Nunn believed that all people should have his or her ideals instead of basing one’s life from the inspiration of others. Educational efforts must be secured in order to enable individuals to make their full original contribution to the flecked whole of human life. Nature permits through their characteristics for individuality only develops within a social atmosphere where it can nourish people’s common interests and activities.
White (1982) explained that