In many areas of government policy there is a big gap between theory and practice, that is, there is a difference between what ought to occur and what actually eventuates. This is unfortunately true for education as well. That education actually alienates the young from the old and from their traditional life-style may in some way be substantiated. In theory this should not happen. Before any discussion on the pros and cons of such a state of affairs, however, there is a need to define what education is, to define some of the approaches officially accepted in Aboriginal education and to differentiate between the needs of some of the more recognizable Aboriginal groups and their life-styles.
Education can be defined as all the ways in which one person deliberately tries to influence the behaviour of another person. Behaviour may include knowledge, skills, habits, values and attitudes (Butts, n.d.). I believe education should serve either or both of two purposes -
1. the acquisition of knowledge, skills, habits, values and attitudes which can be used to assist his community/society to attain a better standard of living, that is, economic development and/or quality of life, and/or
2. to enable a person to be a better and more useful citizen in his/her society.