Last Updated 28 Mar 2021

Solvong the Education Equation

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The myth of education in America works like a broken function box; what we are putting in is not coming out complete, thus leaving an unsolved equation. This unsolved equation is the education system in America, which continuously crams numbers into the function, without yielding any results. This myth America has constructed has been debated by many, benefited few, and has encompassed us all. It was created by the culmination of false goals by a system that does not cater to society as a whole or been proven successful.

The original mission statements of public education in a democracy set out by Horace Mann were to “Equalize all conditions of men, in order to balance the wheel of the social machinery” (Mann 116). I believe that the America’s current public education system is not fulfilling these goals set for all citizens of this nation. There are numerous projected goals of American education that have been set out, in writing, by the trusted officials of America’s government. These goals are aimed at creating a thriving society occupied by well rounded individual citizens.

In Horace Mann’s address to the Massachusetts board of education he states, “It may be safely affirmed that the common school, improved and energized as it can easily be, may become the most effective and benignant of all forces of civilization” (Mann 117). Mann was suggesting that education can be very adaptable, suiting all facets of society to be the sole beneficiary creating good citizens. I believe that his vision was and is still true if America follows his advice, creating a system more adaptable around its constituents.

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I believe the main goals of education in a democracy should include individual empowerment, creating honest citizens, equal opportunity for success, and political knowledge of your government. In regards to political knowledge, Michael Moore in idiot nation states, “A nation that goes out of its way to remain ignorant and stupid, is not one that should be running the world – at least not until its citizens can locate Kosovo(or any other country it has bombed) on the map” (Moore 129). This shows just about how little Americans seem to know about their own government’s practices and decision making.

The apathetic attitude many Americans have towards politics as well shows disregard for their own well being, since the government’s decisions will inevitably affect them. regarding success, John Gatto states that “ We have been taught in this country to think of success as synonymous to, or at least dependent upon schooling, but historically that isn’t true in either an intellectual or a financial sense” (Gatto 150). This alludes to the common phrase money doesn’t buy happiness, in comparison to “schooling” not automatically bringing “success”.

This is the main myth of our education system, which falsely advertises the transition of schooling into success. ?With every projected goal the government has for education, there are just as many ways our democracy is not fulfilling them. For starters, schools are massively overcrowded with an increasing student to teacher ratio, creating less interaction and communication between the two. On top of this problem, teachers are being highly underpaid although they must work harder trying to account for the larger amount of students.

These problems stem from the fact that our education system is not adequately funded and resources are hard to come by. Michael Moore states the hypocritical nature of political funding in Idiot Nation when he says “The ultimate irony is that the very politicians who refuse to fund education in America are the same ones that go ballistic over how kids have fallen behind the Japanese, Germans, and just about every country with running water and an economy not based on the sale of Chiclets” (Moore 138).

Another problem we face is the current system being designed to merely push students along until the end, whether they are ready or not, based on George bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative. John Gatto reveals a solution to this in Against School when he states “If we wanted we could easily jettison the old, stupid structures and help kids take an education, rather than merely receive schooling. we could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness simply by being more flexible… and giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then” (Gatto 149).

The clearest problem we can see in education system is the separation of social classes within schools. schools are clearly still a separate and still unequal institution when you examine the differences between working class, middle class, affluent, and elite schools in America. Each of these levels of schools has a hidden curriculum of work designed for that specific social class’s educational upbringing. Working class schools follow steps of procedure, involving mechanical behavior, with little decision or choice making. In Middle class schools, work is getting the right answer.

Therefore one must follow directions to get the right answers, and accumulate right answers to get a good grade. In affluent schools, students work independently with creative activity, and are asked to express ideas and concepts. This also involves individual thought and expression rather than listening to others. Lastly, elite schools develop ones analytical, intellectual powers by work that challenges both reason and logic through problems. All these levels of curriculum between schools correspond to students’ future “designation” or career path in society’s workplace.

Jean Anyon describes this complex in Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work when she says “Public schools in complex industrial societies like our own make available different types of educational experience and curriculum knowledge to students in different social classes” (Anyon 170). The hidden curriculum of schools in our public education system is clearly a problem and the biggest obstacle to creating equal opportunities for all students in America. ?Education creates empowerment. In theory, yes, this statement is true.

However in the current state of education in America, this is false advertisement when you include the obstacles such as overcrowded schools, incompetent teachers, outdated information sources and hidden curriculum in schools. In order to make that statement more than a myth we need to become aware of the industrial complex that our government has made public education into and start changing the system. We as a nation must demand adequate funding for schools, relevant information sources and diminish class from being intertwined with our education.

We live in a thriving, complex society that has become an idiot nation due to our passivity and apathetic attitude towards education. We must wake up and take back the very foundation of the American dream, our education. Once our nation achieves this we will solve the equation of the education system and function properly as a country.

Works Cited

  1. Anyo, Jean. "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 70. Print.
  2. Gatto, John. "Against School. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 149. Print.
  3. Gatto, John. "Against School. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 150. Print.
  4. Mann, Horace. "Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 116.
  5. Print.
  6. Mann, Horace. "Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 117. Print.
  7. Moore, Michael. "Idiot Nation. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 129. Print.
  8. Moore, Michael. "Idiot Nation. " Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1992. 138. Print.

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