This post is written to contribute to the discussion about the purpose of education and to support the purpose/ed campaign #purposed #500words.
The black metal frame is cold to the touch and the binoculars are heavy. Too heavy for four year old fingers to grasp.”Be careful” warns her mother “you might break them.” So Uncle Peter sits her on his lap, encircles her body with his long arms, and holds the two cylinders up to her eyes so she can see. At first there is only darkness, the brush of eyelash against the rim of a lens and…disappointment. She creases up one eye and suddenly with the other sees a blur of mangled red and a flash of white light. Never mind” says her mother “You know you can’t see without your spectacles”. But Uncle Peter pulls the binoculars closer together so they fit across the bridge of her small nose and whilst she squints through the lenses he twists the barrels one at a time, checking with her, until the distance and focus are correct. Then she squeals with excitement. The Red Admiral butterfly alights on the buddleia bush at the top of the garden with its’ hairy legs twitching.
Now fifty years later she sits at her desk reading a text on the psychology of teaching and learning, skimming a blur of unfamiliar words.. cognitive, psychodynamic, heuristic.. until her eyes are arrested by the description of Bion and his theory of “binocular vision”. And suddenly she understands what it means- this looking at ideas in more than one context until the vision is clear. And she understands that this way of seeing the world is truly the purpose of education.