It's a very instrumental view of education and how it relates to their needs.

According to the dictionary it's "relating to something's function as a means to an end." But I don't get what this word implies in the sentence above.

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    Please link and attribute your quoted definition. 'The dictionary' is extremely unhelpful. OED? Boy's Big? Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 14:35
  • How about another dictionary? Lexico gives 1. "Serving as a means of pursuing an aim or policy" in addition to your definition. Essentially, instrumental here means looking at education as a method (i.e. instrument) of accomplishing some goal (i.e., end). Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 14:37
  • I assume there is the 'person-orientated v result-orientated' tension/conflict in the writer's mind here. Turning out high-functioning sociopaths, perhaps. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 14:46
  • There are 3 pronouns with unspecified referents (it, it, and their) in the sentence, plus one lexical noun (education) which is used very generally without context. When we have some idea what they mean, we'll be in a better position to deal with instrumental here. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


Instrumental is a transferred epithet here: strictly speaking the view is not itself instrumental, but it treats education as something instrumental. Once that is realised, a dictionary definition can be plugged in without any difficulty: the view treats education as a means to some end. The implied contrast is with treating education as something that is valuable in itself, regardless of its consequences.

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