The biggest reason for arguments about education is the diversity of opinion about its purposes.

To begin with, there are a number of parties to the debate: the government, through its ministries or departments of education at various levels and its system of school administration; the teachers and their organizations or unions; the students; the parents; the prospective employers; and the public at large.

My education was somewhat unusual in that it gave me a love of truth that has lasted throughout my life. I grew to love books and libraries, at the same time I learned to distrust what I read. I learned how to analyze theories and arguments. I learned how to appreciate art and music. I opened my eyes to fields of knowledge that I hadn't even dreamed existed.

For many others, education is mainly a precursor to a successful life. It's a process of socialization and acculturation, in which the community gets to impress its values on the students, by teaching to a government-validated curriculum. It introduces students to competition and social networks. It prepares students for specific careers, certifies their competence, and honors their outstanding achievements.

Politicians and governments generally argue that education is a cause of economic prosperity. While success in school is certainly correlated to success in life, there is much less causation than correlation; witness the great successes of some dropouts. The government view gives far too little credit to the values and motivations of youth.

As one who values freedom very highly, and intellectual freedom highest of all, I come down strongly on the side of the student and truth. I believe that the primary attribute of the human being is thinking, and that education should help a student learn to think.

As a former university teacher, I think that the best learning environment is when teacher and student are colleagues; a one-on-one relationship with a teacher not much older than the student works best.

I think intellectual integrity should be the primary value imparted to students during the educational process. One should pursue the truth with an open mind, and listen to all the evidence, not just that presented by the faculty.

Since the search for power is the opposite of the search for truth, it is evident that all the goals mentioned above are inconsistent. Most governments view the educational process as stamping out peaceful and obedient citizens; businesses seek well-trained and loyal employees; teachers want long and prosperous careers; parents wish their family values reinforced.

I recognize that those students most strongly motivated towards success in business or government cannot help but compromise the values of the truth-seeker; nevertheless, I think the accomplished learner can succeed well enough to enjoy a happy and prosperous life.