Meaning, Nature and Aims of Education

Education is a systematic process through which a child or an adult acquires knowledge, experience, skill and sound attitude. It makes an individual civilized, refined, cultured and educated. For a civilized and socialized society, education is the only means. Its goal is to make an individual perfect. Every society gives importance to education because it is a panacea for all evils. It is the key to solve the various problems of life.

Education has been described as a process of waking up to life:

· Waking up to life and its mysteries, its solvable problems and the ways to solve the problems and celebrate the mysteries of life.

· Waking up to the inter-dependencies of all things, to the threat to our global village, to the power within the human race to create alternatives, to the obstacles entrenched in economic, social and political structures that prevent our waking up.

– Education in the broadest sense of the term is meant to aid the human being in his/her pursuit of wholeness. Wholeness implies the harmonious development of all the potentialities God has given to a human person.

– True education is the harmonious development of the physical, mental, moral (spiritual), and social faculties, the four dimensions of life, for a life of dedicated service.


Etymologically, the word ‘Education’ has been derived from different Latin words.

a) ‘educare’ which means ‘to nourish’.

b) ‘educo’ which means to lead out (of ignorance)

c) ‘educere’ which means ‘to draw out’

d) ‘educatum’ which means ‘act of training’.

e) ‘educatus’ which means ‘to bring up, to rear’.

f) ‘ēducātiō’ which means “a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing.”

· The Greek word ‘pedagogy’ is sometimes used to mean education.

· The Indian word ‘shiksha’ is derived from the Sanskrit which means ‘to discipline’, ‘to control’, ‘to instruct’ and ‘to teach’.

· The word ‘vidya’ is derived from Sanskrit which means ‘to know’.

· Back in the 1500s, the word education meant “the raising of children,” but it also meant “the training of animals.” While there are probably a few teachers who feel like animal trainers, education these days has come to mean either “teaching” or “the process of acquiring knowledge.”


Since time immemorial, education is estimated as the right road to progress and prosperity. Different educationists’ thoughts from both Eastern and Western side have explained the term ‘education’ according to the need of the hour. Various educationists have given their views on education. Some important definitions are:

1. Mahatma Gandhi – “By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in man – body, mind and spirit.”

2. Rabindranath Tagore – “Education enables the mind to find out the ultimate truth, which gives us the wealth of inner light and love and gives significance to life.”

3. Zakir Husain – “Education is the process of the individual mind, getting to its full possible development.”

4. Swami Vivekananda – “Education is the manifestation of divine perfection already existing in man.”

5. Aristotle – “Education is the creation of sound mind in a sound body.”

6. Rousseau – “Education is the child’s development from within.”

7. Herbert Spencer– “Education is complete living.”

8. Plato – “Education is the capacity to feel pleasure and pain at the right moment.”

9. Pestalozzi – “Education is natural, harmonious and progressive development of man’s innate powers.”

10. Froebel -“Education is enfoldment of what is already enfolded in the germ.”

11. T.P. Nunn – “Education is the complete development of the individuality of the child.”

12. John Dewey – “Education is the process of living through a continuous reconstruction of experiences.”

13. Nelson Mandela – ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

According to Sydney J. Harris, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” John Locke said, “Plants are developed by cultivation and men by education”. This world would have been enveloped in intellectual darkness if it had not been illuminated by the light of education. It is right to say that the story of civilization is the story of education. Thus, education is an integral part of human life. It is the basic condition for a development of a whole man and vital instrument for accelerating the wellbeing and prosperity by the light of education.


Education is a triangular process. It involves the inter-play of the educator, the educand and the social forces. The educator tries to modify the personality of the child in the light of the needs of the individual and the society to which he belongs. The nature of education is very complex. Let us now discuss the nature of education:

1. It is a life-long process- Education is a continuous and lifelong process. It starts from the womb of the mother and continues till death. It is the process of development from infancy to maturity. It includes the effect of everything which influences human personality.

2. It is a dynamic process: Education is not a static but a dynamic process which develops the child according to changing situations and times. It always induces the individual towards progress. It reconstructs the society according to the changing needs of the time and place of the society.

3. It is a systematic and a purposive process- It refers to transact its activities through a systematic institution and regulation. Every individual has some goal in his life. Education contributes in attainment of that goal. There is a definite purpose underlined all educational activities.

4. It is development of individual and the society- Education helps in individual adjustment a man is a social being. If he is not able to adjust himself in different aspects of life his personality can’t remain balanced. Through the medium of education he learns to adjust himself with the friends, class fellows, parents, relations, neighbours and teachers etc. Education is also a force for social development, which brings improvement in every aspect in the society. It is the society which will determine the aims, contents and methods of teachings.

5. It is training and modification of behaviour- Education is a training- Human senses, mind, behaviour, activities; skills are trained in a constructive and socially desirable way. Human behaviour is modified and improved through educational process. As per the definition of John Dewey education reconstructs and remodels our experiences towards socially desirable way.

6. Education is instruction and direction- It directs and instructs an individual to fulfil his desires and needs for exaltation of his whole personality. Life without education is meaningless and like the life of a beast. Every aspect and incident needs education for its sound development.

7. It is balanced development: Education is concerned with the development of all faculties of the child. It performs the functions of the physical, mental, aesthetic, moral, economic, spiritual development of the individual so that the individual may get rid of his animal instincts by sublimating the same so that he becomes a civilized person.

8. Education is growth: The end of growth is more growth and the end of education is more education. According to John Dewey, “an individual is a changing and growing personality.” The purpose of education is to facilitate the process of his/her growth. Education is continuous reconstruction of our experiences.

Therefore, the role of education is countless for a perfect society and man. It is necessary for every society and nation to bring holistic happiness and prosperity to its individuals.


Aims give direction to activities. Aims of education are formulated keeping in view the needs of situation. Human nature is multisided with multiple needs, which are related to life. Educational aims are correlated to ideals of life.

1. Knowledge Aim. Perhaps the oldest aims of education. Education emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake. Knowledge is essential for intellectual development, better adjustment in life, social efficiency, character formation and spiritual upliftment. The mere acquisition of knowledge might transform an individual into an intellectual but it alone cannot make him a complete man. Practical wisdom and skills, as well as the capacity to apply knowledge are important.

2. Vocational Aim. Self-preservation is the individual’s first need. So education should enable one to earn his bread and butter. Most of the parents send their children to school mainly with this aim in mind.

3. Harmonious Development Aim. Pestalozzi defined education as the harmonious development of the head, heart and hand. Gandhiji too stressed the need for developing the body, mind and spirit. According to a UNESCO study, “the physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical integration of the individual into a complete man/woman is the fundamental aim of education.”

4. Complete Living Aim. Complete living aim was formulated by Herbert Spencer. According to him complete living consists of five groups of activities. They are (i) self –preservation (ii) securing a vocation (iii) being a worthy member of his home (iv) contributing one’s best to the society, and (v) utilizing leisure time profitably.

5. Character Aim. Dewey stressed formation of character as a comprehensive aim of school instruction. The aim of living is the ever evolving process of perfecting, maturing and refining. Education should elevate man from the brutal level to the human level. To Gandhiji, character building was an important aim of education.

6. Individual Aim. Sir Percy Nunn, Rousseau and Herbert have all advocated the individual aim in education. According to Percy Nunn, “Nothing goods enters into the human world except in and through the free activities of individual men and women and that educational practice must be shaped the individual. Education should give scope to develop the inborn potentialities through maximum freedom.” The progress of mankind is due to great individuals. The school should therefore aim at the full and unimpeded development of all the innate abilities of the individual. It should cater to the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and moral development of the child.

Whatever is acquired in human life is the result of education. When a child is born he has no knowledge of his surroundings. Gradually he comes to recognise his environment by using the sense organs and by coming in contact with other people. Many ideas and habits he learns merely by observing others.

Individual aims of education include – development of natural abilities, character-building, development of personality, preparation for adult life, sublimation and control of basic instincts and proper use of leisure time etc.

7. Social Aim. Education is the process of socialization. Education is for the society and of the society. It prepares the individuals to play different roles in society. The function of education is for the welfare of the state. Society is the book which pupils should study in schools. The school itself is a cross section of the society, and active participation in school life should be the method of learning. According to Dewey and Bagley, education should aim at making each individual socially efficient. a socially efficient individual is able to earn his livelihood; he is not a drag on society; he is a good citizen and has intelligence to understand and appreciate the world; he is ready to dedicate himself to the ideals of his society.

Social aims of education include – creation of the sense of citizenship, development of a sense of community involvement, protection and increase of culture and civilization, increasing consciousness of other cultures, encouragement to social welfare, national development, developing national integration and international understanding.

Synthesis between individual and social aims of education:

Individual cannot develop in vacuum. According to John Adams, “Individuality requires a social medium to grow.” And T.P. Nunn says,” Individuality develops in social environment.”

There exists a functional relationship between the two. The individual lives in and through the society. He is influencing and is being influenced by the society. He is making his own contribution to society, while society is enriching his personality and also helps him to meet many of his needs. The progress of the society and the individual go hand in hand, and both exist for mutual benefit. Hence the aim of education may be defined as the highest development of the individual as a member of the society.

Conclusion: According to Sidney Smith, “the real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupations that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.” S. Radhakrishnan observes, “The goal of education is not merely to produce good individuals, but to turn our individuals who understand their social responsibilities as integral elements of the society in which they live.” Again, according to Tyron Edwards, “The great end of education is, to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers, rather than fill it with the accumulation of others.”

From the B.Ed Notes of Dr. John Parankimalil


About John Parankimalil

John Parankimalil, SDB, M.A. (English), M.Ed, Ph.D (Education), popularly known as P.D. Johny is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco. He is presently the Rector and Principal of Don Bosco College, Tura, Meghalaya and Director of Don Bosco College of Teacher Education, Tura. He received the 1st Computer Literacy Excellence Award from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the President of India in August 2002 and the Guruvar Best Teacher Award from Shri Kapil Sibal, HRD Union Minister in 2009. He was formerly Principal of St Anthony's Higher Secondary School, Shillong and National President of All India Association of Catholic Schools (AINACS), New Delhi and the Charter President of Rotary Club of Orchid City, Shillong. He has authored several books. He is an Eduationist, Story-Teller and Leadership Trainer. He conducts seminars for Principals, Teachers, Students and Parents. His popular books include, He Can Who Thinks He Can (Macmillan), An Elocution Manual (Orient Longman), Progressive Parenting (Unicorn), Inspirational Stories for Purposeful Living (Babhani) The Way to Success and Happiness (Savio), How to Win Over Your Problems (Babhani), The Secrets of High Achievers (Babhani).
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9 Responses to Meaning, Nature and Aims of Education

  1. I like your readiness to help students in higher institutions.Keep it up

  2. pkp says:

    Thank you Sir, these notes are really helpful.

  3. Syed Sajid.Hussain says:

    Thanks sir your,s notes are very helpful for us

  4. Brenda says:

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  5. Mutahar abbas says:


  6. Nasreen says:

    thank u sir

  7. swrang says:

    Thank you sir.please add more article on different topic of Education with special focus on b.ed curriculum

  8. AUGUSTINES says:


  9. AUGUSTINES says:


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