Noam Chomsky - The Purpose of Education

Noam Chomsky discusses the purpose of education, impact of technology, whether education should be perceived as a cost or an investment and the value of standardised assessment.

Presented at the Learning Without Frontiers Conference - Jan 25th 2012- London (LWF 12)

Interviewed & directed by Graham Brown-Martin
Filmed & edited by Kevin Grant at wildtraxtv (

Views: 459625
Runtime: 21:58
Comments: 865

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Author Liz Gichora ( ago)
Thank you.

Author Devamitta ( ago)
And yet at present (March 2017) a state rep in Arkansas has introduced a bill to ban the teaching or mention of Howard Zinn in public schools. One cannot say that this is only mistaken policy and not an intentional effort to dumb down the public into followers and not critical, engaged thinkers. Passivity is the goal, thus not so odd at all that many comments here deal with the camera work rather than the substance of what Chomsky is speaking about. I guess those comments show the effectiveness of the present educational system. Short attention spans, inability to listen and parse an argument being made and separate the wheat from the chaff, emphasis on flashing visuals rather than spoken or written word.

Author Blanka Bila ( ago)
Behind any significant use of contemporary technology such as the internet, it is very unlikely to be helpful, and in fact it turns out to be harmful. Brilliant as always.

Author Stephen Shafer ( ago)
I've realized now that I can appreciate Noam Chomsky from a distance and don't need this creative camera work.

Author franklyn donaldson ( ago)
My question is, When do you think that the persons that are in charge of education will get it, and see that teaching toward a test does nothing for kids.

Author franklyn donaldson ( ago)
The one thing is missing from the begging of the education of the child is the creative side

Author rumthin ( ago)
The constant close ups (ie. up his nose etc.) of Mr. Chomsky were very distracting to the discussion.

Author PrinceZamunda ( ago)
Noam Chomsky and that 'raspy' voice. Bordering on indecipherable sometimes haha. But so, so much substance!!!

Author fantastic big things cant tell you now ( ago)
oh my comment was directed to you mister kill joy, and not aimed at other enlightened although deeply concerned citizens

Author Thomas Casey ( ago)
history will always be written by the winners two thirds of the world will always be under the delusion of a dehati and education will always judge fish on there ability to climb trees this civilisation is not getting better it's just getting more distracted

Author tictoc544 ( ago)
indoctrination has been too effective....many lives destroyed so sad

Author Roel Vink ( ago)
*Schools will start telling the truth. The truth will be the most important thing to learn regarding any subject, especially life. History class will tell the story from both sides*. There will be classes in the ultimate truth. For the 1st time ever the *Truth of Life* has been revealed. Teh truth explains the big picture of life in every facet. Google *TruthContest click on the earth icon and read the Present*. The *Truth* contains your ultimate purpose and is the only thing that matters.

Author The Ultimate gamer /snail ( ago)
But your gonna die so what's the point of education

Author aYeGFX ( ago)
sorry but you overdid it with the fancy editing and stuff like that. please try to just keep it simple. it can still be aesthetic that way!

Author Mike Echon ( ago)
Resources and power are the driving force behind propaganda and indoctrination. Farming humans like cattle to live off of their labor and toil. The mega rich are the true leeches on the system.

Author Paul Cook ( ago)
great ...mind

Author 444suse ( ago)
During my life i have found the interesting and revealing thing: high educated people are the most likely to be fooled by new fascinating and treacherous ideologies and ideas. Working people have indeed much better immunity. One of the few studies i trust is math: it's not propaganda and fantasy but pure and merciless science, sharp as razor.

Author Kimberly George ( ago)

Author Kilgore Trout ( ago)
Thanks a lot for the 35 seconds of titles.

Author flachi32 ( ago)
I'm sure we can all do without the nasal hair close ups

Author Jim Bob ( ago)
Why don't we see the great minds of the past, the Da Vincis, the Michelangelos, the Platos? They don't want them. It's that simple. If they met them, certain pain would ensue. Don't throw your laundry list of great thinkers at me. Their influence is marginalized. There are not enough people to understand what he's saying to make a significant difference and you know why.

Author Adenike Adeyemi ( ago)
Noam Chomsky****** great speech. his analysis of 'The impact of technology' is great can't be said otherwise!

Author gustave mondragon ( ago)
Mr Chomsky is an absolute brilliant mind, surpasses Einstein who was a genius in mathematics but Mr Chomsky provides a constant seamless and uninterrupted flow of information I am amazed how this great professor can speak for 2-3 hours with his oratory skills. It is an honor sir.

Author Arnold Van Kampen ( ago)
Please keep indoctrinating. From time to time I carry kids in my car in the age of 5 to 7 and they turn my car into an outright jungle. I praise those who tell them that they should be "good". Others turn to poor sources of information, looking for guidance. So if someone can show them standard ideas, they can compare them to the ones they encounter along the way. Maybe some may loose their shine and attractiveness quickly. Great ideas probably aren't so entirely coincidentally. I want to believe that art including religion and science are essential. We are just an inch away from superstition, witchcraft and barbarity.

Author Per Ringnes ( ago)
Noam Chomsky is my intellectual hero and one of my guides in life.

Author anonneemouse mighty ( ago)
The fact that the CIA sells Education " Systems", pretty much exposes Education for what it is, pure indoctrination, and preparation for a life spent getting up on time, going to a central location, and working with people you hate, that hate you, and get nothing for you efforts in the end.   It trains you or American Life, which is all about being a predictable Robot, so our Government can borrow money based on the future anticipated taxes paid, by future anticipated workers willing to run on a tread-mill going nowhere forever.    Maybe you will get a Gold Star.  I love Chomsky, he destroys his own arguments.   One person like Nicola Tesla is all that we need, the rest would be better off learning how to do Plumbing, since Plumbing saves more lives than Genome study.   And the large audiences he has, only show the amount of people in the room that benefit from education, in an actual financial way, Noam Chomsky himself.   A whole 500 member Class will never be needed, Chomsky has been spewing the same tired Rhetoric for 50-years now, so there are no others needed.   Why train Thousands of Lawyers we will never need?

Author Gold ( ago)

Author gg ( ago)
Who's the retard hipster shooting this shit!? Way to earn your arts degree...

Author almoktafi ( ago)
Who the hell is shooting this?? Stunningly crappy camera work

Author Jerry Rhee ( ago)
Contrasting purposes of education in the modern age using an adjustable, well-constructed, directive conceptual apparatus/framework

Author arguestreet ( ago)
I think Chomsky is the great thinker of our time.  He'll be missed.   But, concerning education for what one assumes is the masses, he misses an important point: we're not all created equally.  From what I've seen, as an educator, if left to their own devices not all students will gravitate to learning on the basis of 'being free to learn about what you're interested in'.  Unless how to put rocks into snowballs and not get caught, or how to get my hair to look like Katy Perry's qualifies as 'being free to learn about what you're interested in', it's not going to work.  He's projecting, which we all do.  While HE may have resented the perceived limitations of education/indoctrination, most of us simply don't have the capacity or the desire to figure things out on our own.  I'd say biologically, we were not designed that way.  Some are!  And Chomsky is one!  But alas, most of us are much better at following than leading.

Author Jackie Joseph ( ago)
Brilliant, like Woody Allen as professor. Nice fellow; surely do hope he's not knotted in the web he semi-protests. Transcend my friend to the shelter of the Absolute Truth the Supremely all attractive Personality of Godhead, that you may come to know yourself of eternity in loving exchanges with Srimati Hare and Sri Krishna. Then instead of hypocrisy and bloody slaughter, we may bring on a Golden Age; allow divinity to flow like spring water. Chanting the Name(s) of God be full of nectar for eternity. All zeros validated and related by the One. Yhe sound vibration incarnation is free and fun.

Author David Lilley ( ago)
Please, if you have been to school and learnt anything then try to take this test.

Can you argue against the following ideas?

-history is bunk

-do not learn stuff. Learn concepts and skills

-you will never learn anything as useful as the three "R's"

- the only discussion in the UK before rolling out free compulsory education in 1838 was the trade-off; the three "R's" versus imprisonment

-why go to university when most lectures are freely available online?

-only learn stuff on a need to know basis. You can get through life not knowing the capital of France is Paris

-you can get stuff as and when required with a few clicks on your mobile

Author Clark Magnuson ( ago)
An educated person should be able to analyze the political bias of Noam Chomsky.

Author Gud Kongen ( ago)
whats the big deal about this guy.. . How in the world could the invention of a telegraph compare to the freedom of information the internett provides. The entire structure of scociaty is currently beeing redefined. He must have a low opinion of humanity thinking we are so weak we can't on a long term basis (50-200)yrs greatly reduce the cult mentality knots we currently see in social media.

Author fergoesdayton ( ago)
The system has an over-reliance on standardized tests, with outdated theoretical backings.  I've known so many people who did fair, or even poorly, on their standardized tests (SAT, CAT) , and went on into college doing well, and have  creative productions in the real world.  At one point they were failing 4.0,  H.S students for not testing well.  In Western society, the bureaucracy of the analytic, has led to a corrupt education system, that severely undervalues intuitive thinking. Ironically, intuition has always been important in western philosophy of mind (Einstein, Poincare, Feynman, Von Neumann).  Unfortunately, in such an anti-intellectual society, it's impossible for laymen, many with backgrounds from 3rd world countries and blue collar inheritance, to even realize this tragedy exists. If the system is biased against a relative handful, of highly gifted minds, which I believe it is, then in Democracy's, where the opinion of the mediocre flourish, this will remain a tragedy.

Author Scott Haley ( ago)
As a former educator at both the secondary and community college levels, I agree.  In my beginning yrs as a teacher, I bought into the "indoctrination" approach to education.  It's a disaster for both students & ed in general.  It was only in later yrs that I learned the value of teaching students to think & develop creativity rather than to recite.  Some recitation is of use, but it shouldn't be the primary focus of education.

Author Nigar Amiraslanova ( ago)
What does he mean by 11-16 minutes?

Author Andrew Feist ( ago)
where'd they get all those books? lol

Author AK naaa ( ago)
Who the hell is shooting this?? Stunningly crappy camera work....Chomsky.. brilliant as always.

Author Brad Hillier ( ago)
my question why are the books purposely stacked to fall down?
 do you believe he reads that many books at a time?
ask questions has he preachs and i bet he doesn't speack so timid in his personal life, weird.

Author Roman Espla ( ago)
cant listen to this at low volumes cause of his deep ass voice :D please transcribe this great mind out of a young womans voice :D thank yuou!

Author esteban corral ( ago)
the purpose of education is to have guilible minds regurgitate the state propaganda and believe it to be true for political control. The asocial non-politcal thinker sees through this crap, takes a shovel and makes excellent compost. Amen which translates to So be it.

Author Vj Grimes ( ago)
Most people are at least vaguely aware (me) of assertions in the clip, but he puts a lot of "current thinking" in a nutshell, a few nuggets:

Two concepts of "purpose of education" system. First, Traditional philosophy, the enlightenment (inquire, create, search riches of the past, internalize significant bits) and further, in your own way, to help people determine how to learn on their own for yourself [HIS PREMISE THROUGH ALL OF THIS]. Second, Indoctrination, to accept and not challenge--after activism of 60s, concern that "crisis of democracy" saying that institutions aren't indoctrinating the young effectively, towards life of conformity, for passing tests for vocational training--RATHER than inquiry, pursuing interests (opposite of enlightenment tradition).

Impact of Technology. The significance of communications is not as big as transportation, or even plumbing--changes are real, but not as dramatic. Tech is neutral, the hammer doesn't care--researcher has to have a framework for which Internet is a valuable tool. Inquiry directs your research, illuminating what ought to be pursued. A biologist isn't just someone with access to the information--awareness of what matters is fundamental, while Internet and communications aren't helpful, even potentially harmful, if result is cult-generated factoids without evaluation.

Education, a Cost or an Investment? Do we want free, creative individuals, OR, who can increase the GDP?, which are not the same thing. Though cost/benefit analysis can be used--e.g. work on the Internet at MIT, where people explore possibilities for useful tools, for scientific and cultural progress--including master artisans that rise on the shoulders of others--it does not come from nowhere, it comes from the lively cultural and educational system that encourages creative exploration, independence of thought, willingness to challenge & cross frontiers of accepted beliefs--without which you are not going to get tech that leads to economic gains.

Assessment vs Autonomy. Tests for students and instructors are to see what I know and where to go from here--a person can do well on tests, but understand very little. Constructive purposes (rather than hurdles that divert from what you ought to be doing) are purpose of tests. Tests are useful tool, for helping improve what we're doing--but doesn't compare with engagement, searching, inquiring, pursuing topics, which is far more significant. You remember what you discover. Physics teacher is asked, "What are we going to cover in this course?" response is, "It matters only what you discover." Inspiring students to discover on their own, to challenge if they don't agree, to look for alternatives, to work through great achievements-of-the-past that interest them. Education is helping students get to the point where they learn on their own, not absorb material from the outside. ~ Noam Chomsky

Author audhauwidh ( ago)
Terrible videography, shamefully bad.

Author GE-ROD Noonan ( ago)
please help me get a education

Author Andrew Kearns ( ago)
That's some pile of books. Where they piled up on purpose to make us aware of Noam's reading prowess? The camera work is awful and distracting. Black and white too? I don't disagree with most of the ideas presented but the presentation is brutal.

Author johnrakthai ( ago)
I thought this guy was supposed to be brilliant and having something to say.

Author Paul Molloy ( ago)
At 11:00 Chomsky explains the rise of neoliberal libertarianism

Author MrFriskyWhiskey ( ago)
IMHO The purpose of education is indoctrination. Consensus and conformity. Bringing you 'up to speed' with someone else's opinions etc. Standardising this to a benchmark.

Author holybigbang ( ago)
love to LISTEN to that guy. the staples of books in the image and the close up camera shots are ridiculous :)

Author Birth Throson (677 years ago)
thanks for sharing 

Author Roland Hawken ( ago)
This is just a watered down version of Whyndam Lewis, with a few new pointers .
Strange thing is Lewis was right wing .I suppose all ideas meet at one point.

Author Charles Maunder ( ago)
Why did the cameraman have a fetish of crawling inside Chomsky's left nostil?  It was very distracting.
Otherwise, as useual, I found his ideas very insightful.  Anyone who really listens, wheather they agree or not, must concede that he presents an intelligent discussion on any topic he tackles.

Author sco bra ( ago)
Wow, that's 22 mins of my life that I will never get back...

Author sco bra ( ago)
Dan O'shea, when does the naked blonde with big tits come on, firing her chaingun from the hip? I'm almost at the end of my 6 second attention span

Author Jayms Dean ( ago)
some thoughts.....personally, i think the praxis of indoctrination requires development. Regarding technology, i'm not really sure i agree with the impetus on real and significant changes as an indication of progress.  Unless you're using this as a progression of indoctrination, of course. As far as frameworks are concerned, I think of study and research as a self-directing phenomenon. It's inherently systemic. I think regarding factoids and such, it's more of a question about what constitutes an '-oid' in general, and whether it's related to simula(t/c)+(-ion)/(r)^(a/um)? it seems to fit with my notion of f(f(s)) at least to the point of r^(oid)+v in s, such that the semantic derivative (with respect to derigitave context--->derogative pretext? .......of 'roids' is f(f'(s)) or ds/dt vs. dd/dt, with a vowel displacement such that for all roid in s, there is at least one roit in i(i(o)), but not i(f(0)). Um, basically, stare at riots until steroids. Could be related to staring contests or contesting stars (assuming 'inglish' represents the aggrandizement of the gherund within a necessarily obscure rant that is neither colloquially understood as English nor obscurant.

Author Eric Wind ( ago)
I really wish the cameraman didn't focus so much on his mouth and his nose.

Author Truth Wars ( ago)
Over Analyser !

Author Rich Gallagher ( ago)
Free education for everyone. Create more videos about learning or how to create or how things work. Knowledge is something that is shared will grow. Hiding information about how something works or how it's created slows down progress not increase it.

Author Taymaz Valley ( ago)
The man is just so enlightened! Amazing and true, but unfortunately we experience all the negative aspects of education that he highlighted, and rarely get to discover.  

Author ozza1011 ( ago)
Whoever shot/ edited this video needs a kick in the face. We do not need several close ups of Noam's lips; while he might be education's descended angel, lip-face is just really shit. Booyakasha.

Author James Today ( ago)
i hated school, the stink of it,the hate filled miasma that oozed in pepuety from the very bones of the place..exited sharply, absently .. .education ruins lives, education is a word, education is a weapon, education kills makes me sick..

Author Marina Bellini ( ago)

Author Leeke Melaku ( ago)
please can you fill out this survey. It is for an app I'm making. Thanks.

Author Jonatan Ekeberg ( ago)
I fell asleep during the first 10 seconds..

Author unity20000 ( ago)
John Goldberg. If there was no 'free market', he wouldnt need to sell any book or tell anything. 

Also, in case you didnt notice - you cant do SHIT in a capitalist country without money. To do anything, either you need to have heaps of money, OR, the thing you do must be worth money so that others will distribute it for you. 

until 2000s, there wasnt internet to allow people to reach millions of people without having to shell out millions of dollars. only way was through books. but see, now there is a way like that, and you are watching his videos, lectures, all the important stuff for FREE.

so ? 

dont talk without thinking next time.

Author Joey Clavette ( ago)
Why does he keep zooming in on his mouth though?

Author turockandar ( ago)
Although this expose is not on the subject of physics...that pile of books behind him seems to be defying Newtonian laws.

Author a singularity empire ( ago)
Was the camera operator working for some agency manipulating distraction? "Anything so that people won't listen to Chomsky"

Author Donald Miller ( ago)

Author TheTrueabundance ( ago)
he's an ex film noir director.

Author abdinoorful ( ago)
through systematically moving up in the ranks you become more useful to society, hence getting more money but you have to realize success in the western world for the most part is predetermined and our "system" my friend is pretty bad while you sit enjoying your juicy meal your government obliterates and takes advantage of third world countries.

Author Wynn Ni ( ago)
Can anyone explain social mobility to me? if America is geared toward the wealthy and business classes, why are we allowed to go to a school (university) and shift from getting a job that requires a lot of labor to getting one that gives out better pay and requires less work. By the end of the day we are able to get enough food to eat and we have some time to do what we want. Just wondering how bad our system is, in respect to the points made, For starters rate 1-10.

Author James B ( ago)
Haven't read much Chomsky, have ya?

Author Mawaru ペンギン 丸 ( ago)
lmao! I almost fell off my chair :D But at least there is lots of wisdom being conveyed here.

Author m00shim ( ago)
I don't thing JG is into that fancy book learnin'.

Author lygophile ( ago)
oh, sure. because free-market is the only way to have remuneration :/

you're hopeless.

Author lygophile ( ago)
oh right, he does go "capitalism sucks, socialism is cool". i totally see what you mean now.

Author m00shim ( ago)
Yes. Keep grinding away at the obvious while ducking the question.

I expected as much...You don't disappoint.

Author m00shim ( ago)
A deep and nuanced analysis. Congratulations. Aside from some grammar issues--on the whole--comprehensive. Unfortunately, it's non sequitur. You seem high-functioning, though a bit addled.
Take a breath, think about it, then answer the question: What are your criteria for designating a country as "dangerous"?

Author lygophile ( ago)
so when exactly did he tell us to buy his books? i'm forgetful, i can't remember it.
and how is Israel defending me from whom? Al Quaida? they are defending me from terrorist cults in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia by occupying Palistina, starving them, and murdering those that are trying to bring them food?

fuck off.

Author m00shim ( ago)
*sigh* Okay, I'll bite--though you sound upset--So what are your criteria for designating a country as "dangerous"?

Author m00shim ( ago)
If this man "hates" anything, it's probably ignorance...the willful kind.
Just some advice. You don't have to take it.
Evidence is always better than platitudes and sweeping generalizations. It might help your argument.
Or... you can always go back to reading Glenn Beck.

Author m00shim ( ago)
"Safe"? Speak for yourself.

Author lygophile ( ago)
yeah. reality is cruel like that.

Author lygophile ( ago)
yes, very dangerous! hide!

Author Michele Schottenbauer ( ago)
The first concept of education, fostering good problem-solving, is healthy. The second concept, indoctrination, is questionable at best, encouraging false-self formation and insincere agreement which deceives the public.

Author Anil C Raghuramu ( ago)
"It doesn't matter what I cover, only what you discover" So cool :-)

Author Ivan Contreras ( ago)
Education is to keep civilization running, that's the main reason why it exist this individualistic purpose is secondary bullshit.

Author justmadeit2 ( ago)
Noam Chomsky is a legend !

Author Chu Kim ( ago)
If you can get past the shaky voice, this guy has got some good nuggets of wisdom.

Author Gregory Shein ( ago)
It's his view, show some respect for the artist!

Author CD11Peter ( ago)
Do they teach about climate in American schools ?
Search For the shocking series

Author Walter Tonetto ( ago)
what a pity that an intelligent presentation by Chomsky has such dull-witted (and foul-mouthed) listeners like you!

Author Walter Tonetto ( ago)
....not half as effete and tired as you, though!

Author Walter Tonetto ( ago)
...nor are you in your judgmentalism ("should be prosecuted"), and a lot of fluffy commentary hereabouts which appears to be more excited by the deficits of the recording than the content of the presentation.

Author KM Bappi ( ago)
Great insights from Seth about the origin of our schools and the education system.


Author dudemandude999 ( ago)
Close-ups on the mouth as I read it, dude.

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