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Nicholas Tate

27 April 2004

What is education for? [145 kb, PDF]


Abstract

This lecture discusses the purposes of education and the implications of these purposes for school curriculum development.

Nicholas Tate explores the importance of constantly thinking and re-thinking the fundamental aims
of education and the notion of what it is to be an educated person. He discusses the purposes of education in nation states and in international schools, and explores the relationship between these
two. He then suggests the implications some of these purposes have on school programmes.

He concludes with the suggestion that the main challenge for all school programmes today is
achieving an effective balance between traditional knowledge acquisition and creative areas of conceptual understanding.

“...knowledge by itself is insufficient and will remain inert...unless applied and constantly re-applied
in stimulating exploratory contexts.”

Nicholas TateDr Nicholas Tate is a historian who was educated at Balliol College, University of Oxford, and at the universities of Bristol and Liverpool.

Following a career in schools and teacher training institutions in England and Scotland, and in school examining, Dr Tate joined England's National Curriculum Council in 1989 at the time of the establishment of the English national curriculum, and for the next 11 years worked for a succession of public bodies charged with the administration of England's school curriculum, assessment and qualifications systems.

From 1994 to 1997 he was chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and from 1997 to 2000 chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. In both of these positions he was the chief curriculum and qualifications adviser to the Secretary of State for Education.

From 2000 to 2003 he was headmaster of Winchester College, one of England's leading independent boarding schools, founded in the fourteenth century, and the English school with the longest continuous history. Since 2003 he has been director general of the International School of Geneva, reputed to be the world's oldest international school and the school where the International Baccalaureate was conceived in the 1960s.

Dr Tate has written seven history books for schools as well as a large number of articles on aspects of history and education.