Our commitment to good schools is not matched by a similar commitment to defining what they should be good for:
The aim of education is to prepare students for adult life. So the role of schools should be thought through only after we have identified the challenges of adult life. If school is essentially conceived as a training, we need to explain what it is training for. What are the relevant difficulties and challenges that we need to be equipped to deal with?
If we work backwards from life, it is clear that schools fail all but a tiny portion of their students. This is a generic problem, as much in evidence in posh, highly academic private schools as in more deprived, government-run ones. Trouble around work and relationships remains very widespread indeed.
In the Utopia, unlike today, schools would be designed by people who asked systematically about the main problems in people’s work and home lives – and then worked backwards to put adequate, thoughtful responses in place in the training years.
Students in our society should learn about capitalism, business, consumption, self-knowledge, and relationships.