Before we can figure out how to build an education system or assess whether an educational system meets the goals and ideals we aspire to as Torah observant Jews, we must first ask ourselves what those goals and ideals are. Note the important word in that sentence: ideals. Yes, ideals do matter, even if we often fall short of them, because of the other important word in that sentence: aspire. It is the sheifa l'gadlus, the aspiration to ideals, which tells much about what a person considers serious and important and defines the direction of his life. When a kid plays baseball, he imagines himself becoming the next Derek Jeter -- he doesn't aspire to becoming the next 40 year old overweight guy in the Sunday breakfast league. When a kid starts to learn Torah, he should similarly imagine himself becoming the next Rav Soloveitchik, the next R' Ahron Kotler, and put in hours trying to make that dream come true -- not aspire to becoming a 40 year old ba'al habayis who can barely kvetch through daf yomi with the Artsroll. At some point in life a person matures and is forced to realize he is not Derek Jeter and maybe becoming a lawyer rather than count on playing shortstop for the Yankees is not a bad idea. And at some point down the road most talmidim will realize they are not R' Ahron Kotler or the Rav and they too will need to make concessions to reality as well. But those decisions can come long after elementary school, even after high school.
So what are the big dreams we should to inspire students to think about? Should we inspire them to go figure out a cure for cancer, perform some valuable social service that can help the needy, improve the world in some other way? All those are important goals, but they are secondary and far less important than the one goal for which a Jew was created.
The Rambam asks in his introduction to Peirush haMishnayos: "Why is man here; for what was he created?" The Rambam answers that mank was created for one purpose alone -- to imbue his soul with the wisdom of G-d. All other wisdom is valuable only to the extent that it enables man to draw closer to that singular goal. The Rambam continues that even if a person lived a holy life of a nazir, perfecting his nature and character, performing mitzvos, avoiding sin and temptation, he would still be imperfect so far as he did not devote himself to attaining the knowledge of G-d.
R' Chaim Volozhiner writes in his Nefesh haChaim (4:30):
"The Torah further surpasses with its illumination and holiness all mitzvos combined. That is, even if a person were to fulfill all 613 commandments with true perfection as required, meticulous in every detail, with proper pure intention, so that every limb and fiber of that person's being becomes a chariot upon which may rest the tremendous sanctity of all those mitzvos, nonetheless, there is no comparison at all between the light and holiness of mitzvos and the light and holiness of Torah which manifests itself upon a person who studies it properly. The root of holiness [of Torah] comes from a much higher source than the root of holiness and great light of even all the mitzvos combined."
This same idea is already found in a Mishna everybody knows and says every day: "...v'Talmud Torah k'neged kulam." Our primary goal in life, the goal which is more important than even other religious achievements and certainly more important than secular studies and achievements, is the study of Torah.
If our educational philosophy is to be molded by the Rambam, certainly a thinker who many champion as their guide in other areas, or R' Chaim Volozhiner, as Volozhin is the mother of all modern yeshivos, or any of the many seforim which echo these ideas, then we obviously need to aspire to become masters of Torah wisdom and knowledge. It makes no sense to aspire to and idealize the baker who provides bread for the talmid chacham, or the carpenter who builds his house, or even the doctor who heals his ills instead of idealizing and aspiring to be the talmid chacham himself!
The education that would lead to the goal of gadlus in Torah, namely intensive immersion in learning for the majority of the day every day, is certainly not for everyone. The world will have its bakers and carpenters, its investment bankers and lawyers, and we need educational institutions that will give everyone some connection to Torah and a love of learning. Just because you can't be Derek Jeter is no reason to give up baseball, and just because you are not the Rav or R' Ahron Kotler is no reason not to learn. Aderaba, within your own limits learn and support learning. But the pragmatic concession to reality does not mean we should make a philosophical concession and idealize the investment banker or scientiest as spiritually equivalent to someone tucked away in a beis medrash pouring over the words of R' Akiva Eiger and the Ketzos. We all can't be sitting over a gemara all day, but we all can admire those who do and aspire to come closer to that goal.