8 Most Important Individual Aims of Education

1. The Knowledge Aim

Knowledge is power. Achievements of all kinds are made possible only through knowledge. An ignorant man can do nothing for himself or for anyone else; and is like an animal. Knowledge is basic for living a rich and happy life.

Social Intelligence, Social Studies and Knowledge about Society

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It is for this reason that many educationists consider imparting of knowledge to the people as an important aim. That is why all the schools have graded syllabus for children of different ages and classes. Different subjects are taught in the schools as different aspects of knowledge.

In fact acquisition of knowledge is the nucleon around which most of the activities of the schools in the whole world revolve. Most of the teaching strategies developed for teaching aim at imparting knowledge alone.

The examination systems in all countries measure, by and large, only knowledge. In fact, education and knowledge giving have become synonymous. Teachers, students and parents all think that good education and good schools are only those which make their children knowledgeable.

There is no doubt that knowledge-giving should be considered an important aim of education. In the past many philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, the Sophists and many others emphasized this aim very much. Comenius said that an ideal school should impart knowledge of all subjects to all men and women.


Knowledge and intellectual development go together; and cultivation of intelligence is an importance of education according to Bertrand Russel. Bacon’s slogan was “all knowledge for all”, knowledge was virtue for Socrates.

To Cicero knowledge was a means of mental development. Even the development of other aspects of human personality is dependent largely on acquisition of knowledge. Thus, it is an important aim of education to impart knowledge. But where are we wrong?

We commit a serious error when we accept and say that it is the only aim of education, when we say that nothing else is important. Knowledge alone is not enough and sufficient for living a happy and complete life. Knowledge is a tool which has to be used for achieving many more things.

So these many more things should also be brought within the purview of aims of education. Hence, the right way is to say that among many aims of education, knowledge aim is also very, important.

2. Harmonious Development Aim

It means harmonious development of child’s personality. Child’s personality is one word but many things. Intellectual and cognitive development is one aspect. Emotional development including emotional control is another. Feelings, attitudes, interests, values etc., also fall within this component of emotional development.

Similarly, development of skills, desirable habits and actions constitute still another aspect of personality development. Adjustment to the environment and much social behavior come under this. Equal development of all these aspects, balanced development of these, is considered an aim of education.

If it happens that a person is very knowledgeable, but socially maladjusted, this would mean a lap-sided development of the personality. Education should provide opportunities to all children for developing all aspects or their personalities.

3. Vocational Aim

This is also known as the ‘bread-and- butter” aim of education. Thus no doubt should be considered an important aim of education. It simply means that education received by an individual should enable him to earn his bread, should enable him to get a job, some work that pays him sufficient money regularly so that the individual is able to buy bread, clothes, house, and other things necessary for living a decent and comfortable life.

This has led in many countries, to a slogan by the people and educators which is “job-oriented education”. Vocationalization of education is another dimension of the same. Gandhiji’s basic education concept had this implication. When he said that true education should be, for the boys and girls, a kind of insurance against employment, he meant to emphasize vocational aim of education.

Again, although we all accept that vocational aim is very important, yet we commit a mistake when we say that it is the only aim to which education should cater. We should always think that along with vocational aim there are other aims which are equally important.

We should neither ignore nor belittle the importance of vocational aim, nor should we consider this only important aim: Nehru struck the balance between vocational and cultural aims of education when he said that cultural and vocational or productive aspects of education both are essential.

“Everybody should be a producer as well as a good citizen and not a sponge on another person,” said he. Mahatma Gandhi also emphasized the same point when he said that body, mind and spirit all should be developed by education.

Although many philosophers from the ancient times to the present day have insisted upon the satisfaction of the soul belittling the importance of vocation in life, yet their view cannot be the conscious of opinion.

These should be taken as the extreme views and one-sided opinions. The majority of the people in the world feel that education should make individual self-dependent and capable of earning their livelihood. An educated man without a job or some work to earn is a curse, a blot on the system of education.

4. Complete Living Aim

This aim means that education should enable the individuals to live a life which is full and complete. In other words it means preparing the individuals for life. Living a full and complete life means exercising and using all capacities and abilities in the interest of one’s well-being.

Keeping good health, developing a sound mind and using it for the benefit of life’s amenities, enjoying life and enriching it culturally, living like a good citizen and gainfully employed may be considered some important features of full or complete living.

In other words it is the same as harmonious development of personality. According to this aim education should enable the individual to carry out all necessary activities of life successfully.

He should be an enlightened citizen and an efficient man. Herbert Spencer seems to be the advocate of this aim. It is in a way laying an emphasis on liberal education which emphasizes teaching the pupils everything that is needed in life. It may be termed as life-centered education or education for life.

The main difficulty with this aim is how to define “completeness of life”. When is life complete? Even it is possible to define completeness of life it becomes more difficult to identify what will make it so.

5. The Moral Aim

This aim lays stress on the ethical development of the people. Character-formation and learning of social and moral values are the focus of this aim. Gandhiji termed this as “purity of heart”. Vivekananda’s “man-making” function of education also means the same thing. Dewey said “all education forms character-moral and mental”.

This, in other words, means emphasizing the moral aim of education. Raymont also considered “cultivation of strength and purity of character” as an important aim of education. Herbart said “the whole work of education could be summed up in the concept of morality.”

The idealist philosophers supported the moral aim as an ultimate aim of education. National Policy on Education of 1986 also said that education should be made a “forceful tool for the cultivation of social and moral values”.

There can be no gain saying that education should teach morality to children. It is a universally accepted aim of education. But, the difficulty with this aim is how to define character and morality, what are its behavioral components, are these behavioral components acceptable universally, does morality help the individual in actual situations of life, is there any standard way of teaching morality.

These questions have no set and unambiguous answers. Morality is good, but very difficult to be taught, particularly in today’s materialistic world.

Yet, the aim cannot be scored out simply for these difficulties. In a democratic country where the assumption is that the human being is perfect and given the freedom he will make the best use of it in the interest of the society and his own interest, it becomes still more important to teach morality to people. Education alone can play this role.

6. Aesthetic Aim

This aim emphasizes that education should develop in the pupil an aesthetic sense which means a taste for good and beautiful things. They feel that excellence of taste and fairness of feeling can form the basis of good character and genuine morality.

By developing in the child sensitivity to what is beautiful and excellent ideals may be generated which play an important role in being a moral person. Aesthetic development is, in fact, a part of the education of the whole man.

It is a sort of emotional training. In the past the Athenians considered this important. They aimed, through education, to develop a well-rounded individual, one whose physical, moral, intellectual and aesthetic powers were developed.

For developing aesthetic sense of the child the educators stressed that while teaching pupils love of beauty and art should be fostered.

The students should be presented with a large variety of art forms such as paintings, drawings, beautiful sceneries both real and painted, songs, poetry, etc. They should be taught to appreciate them and realize the beauty inherent in them.

7. Individual Happiness Aim

Happiness is essentially the purpose of all that an individual does in life. He goes to school, tries to build good health, tries to get a job, serves well, and does something which brings him name and fame.

All these activities of his are goal- directed. This goal is to derive happiness out of them. Happiness is the basic goal-life. It is asserted, therefore, that education should help the individuals in achieving this goal.

All educators have considered health and well-being of the child important and that education must cater to this. For this reason athletics and games form a part of the curriculum of education in every country.

For the same reason it is also emphasized that knowledge of the laws of health and right living and knowledge of laws of bodily grace and harmony should be taught to the children in the schools.

Happiness of the individual very much depends on sound mind and sound body so recreational activities should be included in the curriculum.

8. Education for Leisure

This aim asserts that children in the schools should be taught to utilize their leisure time such as their holidays, summer vacation and week days constructively for enjoyment and developing their potentialities. This may add to their happiness and development of creative powers.

The educators, for this reason, plead that provisions for hobby centers, recreation centers, social service camps, scouting, NCC etc., should be made in which students can participate and use their leisure time fruitfully.

Thus, there are a number of educational aims which fall within the category of individual aims of education. They are said to be individual aims because they all focus on the life of the individual. All round development of the individual is their only concern. They are all complimentary and should not be considered competitive.

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