The 3Rs

Three Root Purposes of Education

The root is “the irreducible minimum”, the essential; the most meaningful part that is left when any affixes are removed and the fundamental remains …

There is an old adage that education simply requires learning the 3 r’s: “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic”.  Despite its jocular intent, there is something that rings true to this lighthearted depiction; namely, a need to get ‘back to basics’ in education.

Sir Ken Robinson explains that the basics of education are not simplistically curricular in nature; they are not merely a group of subjects that emphasise the learning of literacy, numeracy and science.  He maintains that there are deep-seated principles that underlie ‘good education’ … three “fundamental purposes”:

  1. Education is key to meeting the demands of economic development and sustainability: “the 21st century economies demand that we develop our skills of creativity and innovation, and the great multiplicity of human talents”.
  2. Education has to foster global understanding: “enabling our students, of whatever age they happen to be, to understand their own cultural backgrounds, their own histories and traditions, their own identity and what shaped and formed it.  But, it has equal responsibilities to encourage them to understand other people’s cultures. The great challenges that we face on the planet just now are partly environmental; but they are also partly cultural”.
  3. Personalisation: “Education, in the end, is about people; it’s about individuals, it’s about their hopes and aspirations; it’s about their talents and their abilities and their passions  … education is not a mechanistic process; it is a process that depends upon the imaginations and interests of students being properly engaged.”


It is these 3 fundamental purposes of education that underlie the philosophical foundation of Think3R Education; these timeless truths determine our focus and guide our actions as we hope to help transform education around the world.