This is a brief summary of the book Educational Goods: Values, Evidence, and Decision‐Making by Harry Brighouse, Helen F. Ladd, Susanna Loeb and Adam Swift. It provides the introduction to the present symposium on this book, which includes the ensuing contributions from Carey Bagelman, Randall Curren, Michael Hand, John Tillson and Winston Thompson, followed by a response from the authors.
Educational decision‐making involves value judgments. As decision makers aim for improvements, they need standards that tell them what counts as an improvement. However, they typically lack a rich and sophisticated language for talking about values and articulating trade‐offs. The book aims to enrich the language available to, and to clarify the thinking of, both educational decision makers and the researchers whose work informs their deliberation, by offering a systematic framework for thinking about the goals of education.
We have coined the term ‘educational goods’ to refer to the knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions that children develop both for their benefit and for the benefit of others. We identify, at a general level, six capacities that will tend to support the flourishing of both the agent herself and others in her society: the capacities for economic productivity, personal autonomy, democratic competence, healthy personal relations, regarding others as moral equals, and personal fulfilment. We think of these as the distinctive goods that education aims to produce.