Let's jump forward a millennium or so to Italy during the Renaissance. During this time, the educated (read: those with means) sought out private tutors or sent their children to small schools. The emphasis for study was,
I envy those students who got to sit with Socrates and question. I envy those young Italians who would create without fear of failure. I want my own son to be so engaged in his learning that he forgets sometimes that video games are within arms reach (I said sometimes). I want students today to be so excited about going to school that they continue the conversations on the school bus and via collaborative documents housed in the Cloud. I want parents to be excited to hear about what their children created today or failed at today, rather than what their children did today. It is hard to let go of what we know. But our world is evolving and if we truly subscribe to the idea that every child deserves an education and needs an education in order to be a successful, contributing member of society, then we have no choice but to let go of the past and reimagine schools that prepare our students not for factories, but for the future. We owe it to them to provide an appropriate education that will set them up for success, rather than a dated education that prepares them for no jobs that will exist in their future.
And thus, I come to an answer to my question: Schools facilitate learning opportunities for students to master the skills they will need for their own futures. Returning to the beginning, Socrates NEVER gave students the answer. He simply facilitated their own learning and understanding. The ability to think critically about everything was the skill those young men needed. What skills do our students need today and how can we facilitate opportunities for them to master these skills?