Academic journal article Education

Reforming American Education Must Include Societal Matters as Well as Educational Ones

Academic journal article Education

Reforming American Education Must Include Societal Matters as Well as Educational Ones

Article excerpt

Intense public criticism underachieving American schools and an ensuing outcry for school reform since the early 80's have been prompting educators to come up with a host of school programs or initiatives aimed at improving student performance. However, a plethora of school programs has resulted not in improvement, but rather in continued poor results.

This dissatisfaction with American schools compels us to look deeper into the nature of the problems besetting the nation and seek a collection of solutions, more fundamental than programs. A careful analysis of the American school dilemma suggests that if the terrible gap between the actual mediocrity in American schools and the desired outcome of excellence in them is to close, then we must embrace a school reform that takes all social factors into account because schools do not and cannot work separate from society (Altbach, 1985). Therefore, all the components that are mentioned in the following proposal are ill a symbiotic relationship with each other.

Once educational leadership embraces the notion that all the factors mentioned below work in strict relation to each other, once society realizes that children do not magically become learners for six hours a day and magically return to being children the rest of the time, we can accomplish two things. First, we can begin the slow journey back to making social corrections in all areas relevant to education such as home life, needs, and values, and second, with that larger vision intact we call see our way to putting the smaller part, school curricula, in a proper symbiotic relationship to the aforementioned social factors that underpin productivity.

No prescription that neglects the larger context, that ignores the symbiosis of social milieu and education, is sufficient to change mediocre schools into excellent schools. Most programs do not fail because they are flawed; they fail because they are perceived in, and begun in, a much too narrow field of vision. When education is perceived in terms of the whole child, achievement can be attained. Skills can only be taught in an atmosphere of symbiotic health.

The following plan for American school improvement is an attempt to neither blame anyone nor condemn any programs. The eight categories listed below concerning education must be examined and used as a blue print for The resuscitation of American education. 1. Keeping in mind the size of the problem and the nature of the solution.

As has been previously ascertained (McClellan, 1994), There is not only a degree of failure, but also a portion of success in American schools. The current alarm about education, though often characterized as total failure, is hardly that. In fact, many American students are successfully learning in their schools. The sad fact is that the proportion of students learning less than expected is reaching an unacceptable high, particularly in urban schools (Wang, Reynolds, Walberg, 1994). Solving this problem requires a number of careful distinctions that will identify and separate The areas to be left intact from the areas that need to be targeted for improvement.

First, as Hwang has asserted (Hwang, in press), the learning failure among some students should not be explained away as the failure of teachers. Indeed, the very success of The successful learners vindicates the teaching profession. If American schools are as inadequate as they are frequently described, all groups of students attending schools should be failing altogether. However, many children flourish while some students fail in the same class under the same teacher.

Therefore, it may be said that the popular attempts at curing the problem of low test scores by altering only teaching methods have failed and will continue to fad not because these methods of teaching are inappropriate, but because pedagogical shift, by itself, has not assisted in increasing across the board achievement. …

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