Educational aims express the social and developmental outcomes that schools hope to achieve. Herbert Spencer approached educational aims through the question, What knowledge is of most worth? This and the following related questions have long been central to educational scholarship. Why are certain types of learning valued over others? Should schools strive for critical thinking or cultural literacy? Should they seek practical relevance or academic rigor? Should schools prepare students to accept social norms and the responsibilities of adult life? Should they prepare students to reform society through civic participation and activism? Or are all of these aims equally important?

Some educational writers treat the terms aims and objectives as synonymous. Objectives, however, are usually more specific than aims because the former are justified ...

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