I sometimes think that my own definition of what school is all about is too simple, but the “preparation for playing a positive part in the world” is a valid expectation. As a teacher of Design Education I interpret that preparation in a particular way — it requires experiences, interactions, experimentation, vision, expectation, success, failure, emotion, control, implication, relevance, responsibility, humility, collaboration, contribution, skill…but it does not limit the learner to accepting the status quo. In other words, the preparation should grow the individual as a potential leader and innovator.
The idea that it is poor social engineering is a frightful one, one guaranteed to backfire. We have already seen too many politicians try to implement their ‘ideals’ on education and damage youngsters in their rush to imprint their own expectations. The cost of that folly to future generations cannot be estimated.