The irony of education is that while as a process it demands all the plurality and innovation required in any attempt to reach the most exalted outcome, there is no way that outcome can be defined accept by reference to the process of learning itself. And so it is always in danger of slipping into something beneath education.

First we may slip into assuming that we are aiming at some specific (if unstated) goal, like ‘suitable for employment by the modern state’. Second we may slip into taking the process of education, or one of its tokens, as the goal ‘a good degree’. These mistakes are both corruptions of education – turning it into the tool of an elite or into empty gestures.

But this is not education.

It may be training – and training can be very useful if you know what you ought to be doing – but it is not education.

Education is a ‘leading out’ – even if the ‘where we are going’ is not crystal clear. Hence we must see education as the development of what is already innate. Education presumes the value of learner, their passions and interest, and is informed by a strong sense of moral value.

Such a process must combine love for the learner – a love which may require discipline – along with the exercise of authority by the educator. The character of the relationship is possibly a better guide to the reality of education than anything else.