Life On and Off an Acreage

In-sights into moving from an Acreage back to Town, plus a few things I find of interest.

Two things that horses are scared about:

1. Things that move
2. Things that don't move

August 8, 2013

What Gives?

We got into a conversation with one of our grand daughters the other day on education. It seems at 11, she is not really thrilled with going back. I asked why the government ( and the taxpayer) spends so much on education, "free" at that.

The standard answer that she gave and that I expected was so that she could get a good job.

That was not the answer that I was taught, yes, taught when I was in school. Some things kind of stick in the old memory banks for quite a few years.

What we were taught was that the government insisted that all children get a good education, not so they could land a plum job, but rather that they would have the education and knowledge to elect responsible people to govern on their behalf, and so that they would mature into responsible citizens. Where did that concept disappear to? The one that all democracies ( successful ones) are built on?

I know, having been to several Christmas concerts where the only thing about Christ was in the word Christmas, that the Christian ideals that the USA and Canada were built one are long gone from the schools.

Now, what is replacing the purpose of education in the schools?

From Forbes:
Over the decades, the following have all been goals of education:
  • To prepare children for citizenship
  • To cultivate a skilled workforce
  • To teach cultural literacy
  • To help students become critical thinkers
  • To help students compete in a global marketplace
While these are related goals, they demonstrate the diversity of expectations and prioritization that society and its educators must manage.
In the 1980s, the noted educator and philosopher Mortimore Adler put forth the Paideia Proposal (Adler, 1982) which integrated the ideas of Dewey and Counts, as well as his own. Specifically, Adler suggested that there are three objectives of children’s schooling:
  • the development of citizenship,
  • personal growth or self-improvement, and
  • occupational preparation.
Further Google searches find:
Historian of education David Tyack has argued that from an historical perspective, the purpose of schooling has been tied to social and economic needs (Tyack, 1988). More recently, some sociologists have argued that schools exist primarily to serve a practical credentialing function in society (Labaree, 1997). Expanding on the pragmatic purpose of school, deMarrais and LeCompte (1995) outlined four major purposes of schooling that include:
  • intellectual purposes such as the development of mathematical and reading skills;
  • political purposes such as the assimilation of immigrants;
  • economic purposes such as job preparation; and
  • social purposes such as the development of social and moral responsibility.
From Melissa Taylor:
Time for you, readers of Class Notes, to comment with your opinions. What is the purpose of education?
To learn to think?
Is it to learn knowledge --reading, writing, and arithmetic?
To learn to be a productive citizen of the world?
Or something else?
"Education is really aimed at helping students get to the point where they can learn on their own. . . " says renowned linguist, philosopher, historian, and scientist,  Noam Chomsky.
For years educators based the purpose of education on the definition by John Dewey, restated by Gene Carter , Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of ASCD, " —that the general purpose of school is to transfer knowledge and prepare young people to participate in America’s democratic society." But, says Carter, that definition is insular and inadequate in the 21st century. Instead he'd rather that "purpose of schools must be preparing children to compete in the global environment." (Click here for a .pdf of The Purpose of Education from ASCD.)
Our Mom Congress delegates weigh in:
Ilina Das Ewen of North Carolina: "To teach creative and analytical thinking. To spark curiosity, imagination, and love of lifetime learning. I see education as a lifetime journey, not a destination or a transaction."
Kathie Green of Indiana: "The purpose of education is to teach the basics so everyone has a shot at life :) but more than that to create the "spark" - the curiosity, the creativity, the confidence, the zest for further knowledge that helps a person grow beyond what they believe they can be. It's a lot to hope for - but I have watched it happen time and changes the scope of the world. 
Yolanda Gordon of South Carolina: "The purpose of education is prepare our children for higher education, teach them to navigate social interactions with peers from different backgrounds, and to help them become tax paying members of society. It is to provide them with the building blocks to figure out what they want to do with their lives and to spark their curiosity to learn more and to build on the skills that they already have. In the case of children with disabilities it is also to teach them functional skills so that they can function on their own once they leave school behind and to potentially obtain and keep a job for those that are high functioning."
Myrdin Thompson of Kentucky: "Creating compassionate caring adults means treating children with compassion and care. Education is but one cornerstone of creating a vital, sustainable community. Each of us have a role to play in helping the very youngest of our citizens grow and thrive and fulfill their potential. By providing a solid foundation (the basics so to speak) we can then help our children reach for their dreams. Working together as partners in this effort is essential. Parents (families) are the constant in the equation, schools/teachers are the variable (as they change over time). Only by creating a shared vision and pathway to success will our children be able to achieve their goals."
Dalinda Alcantar of Texas: "I think it is simple: the purpose of education is grow children into productive citizens that use their knowledge, talents, and learned skills to sustain themselves and help others while pushing the human race forward in areas of equality, equity, and harmony." 
Felisa Hilbert of Oklahoma: "The value of education is to ignite the spark that develops creative thinking skills and the value of reasoning for yourself. EdEducation teaches and prepares children and youth to meet the future needs to function in a society not only academically, but emotional, socially, spiritually and economically. Education gives you the power to believe in yourself and the knowledge to feel accepted value and love. Parents are the first educators to developed this confidence and self esteem to believe in education, letting kids know that every child is smart, capable of reaching their dreams and goals. Teachers are the other part this puzzle; they need to believe that every child is teachable and set high expectations for them and for themselves."
Stacey Kazakis Weigler of New Hampshire: "The purpose of education is to develop students’ desire and ability to think and learn about the world around them. Further, the purpose is to learn how to develop relationships that will enable students to work with their peers, throughout their schooling and beyond."
Melissa Bilash of Pennsylvania: "To ensure growth and build community that allows meaningful post secondary outcomes regardless of ability."
. . . 
Eleanor Roosevelt argues that education depends on us, not the schools. "The school alone cannot teach citizenship, however, any more than it can really educate a child. It can do much in directing thought and formulating standards, in creating habits of responsibility and courage and devotion. In the last analysis our home surroundings are the determining factor in development, and the example of those dear to us and constantly with us is what makes the warp and woof of our lives . . . remember that on the public school largely depends the success or the failure of our great experiment in government "by the people, for the people.""  
Well said, Mrs. Roosevelt. Well said.
When I look back, I find that most of the subjects that I took, I had no further application for as  such once I left school. The exceptions are the reading writing and arithmetic. The rest were there in the background giving me the basis to make sound judgements and perform responsible civic duties. I remember the classes on history and citizenship, although the latter was called something else). As far as jobs went, the education proved that I had the ability to learn whatever job I had my eye on, but the ultimate purpose was still social, civic and government responsibility.

Should we not be re-thinking the purpose of education and teaching it in the schools?
I remember one phrase from somewhere:
Educate a man, and you have a breadwinner. Educate a woman, and you educate the family.
However, nowadays, life is more complicated than it once was, or we tend to make it so.
What say?

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