Education and the Societal Arena

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Education and the Societal Arena


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The author argues that teachers and administrators need to focus on those things which make for problem areas in society. These problems may provide worthwhile problem-solving situations in the school curriculum for students. A variety of learning opportunities are required to ensure that pupils secure necessary information to arrive a desired solution.

There are/have been educators who strongly believed that what is taught in school should be closely related to what is important in the societal arena. Thus, school and society should be one and not separate entities. From a stimulating learning environment, pupils need to have opportunities to identify problems. These problems are lifelike and relevant to the involved learners. Once a clearly identified problem has been chosen, information needs gathering in order to solve the problem. A variety of reference sources should be used such as reading, excursions, technology, interviews, and audiovisual aids. Critical thinking needs to be used to separate the important from the unimportant, the utilitarian from the nonutilitarian, and the accurate from the inaccurate. This leads to an hypothesis in answer to the problem. The hypothesis is tentative and subject to modification and change. The hypothesis should be evaluated in a lifelike situation (Dewey, 1915).

Somewhat in the opposite direction, there are educators who recommend a basics approach whereby pupil learn essential subject matter. The subject matter has been chosen by educators, generally on the state level. With careful consideration, academic content can be selected which is relevant; all pupils should achieve these objectives in the different subject matter fields. The trivial and the unimportant are weeded out by selected educators who specialize In an academic area. The content selected might be called state standards in academic knowledge for pupil attainment. With demanding state standards, it Is believed by numerous educators that pupils might achieve at a more optimal rate, than what is presently the case. The teachers who implement these standards in teaching and learning situations need to have high expectations for pupils. Many fear that the US will not remain competitive on the world scene unless the school curriculum is highly challenging and emphasizes pupils achieving that which other nations have their pupils achieve when international comparisons are made. Former president George Bush stated as one objective for pupils in the US to be first in the world in mathematics and science when international comparisons are made from test results (Ediger, 1996).

Which philosophy of education assists pupils to achieve more optimally? This depends upon one's own philosophical thinking as to the role of the school. The first philosophy discussed above stresses the role of the school being to guide pupils to shoulder their responsibilities in society presently as well as In the future. School and society are one, not separate entities. The basics advocates believe that pupils presently should study academic subject matter in depth so that when these learners are adults they will do well in the societal arenas. Thus at a future time, pupils of today become members of society at a later time. The balance of this paper will stress the role of the school in society. Thus the school and society are one in goals to be emphasized, learning opportunities to be implemented, and evaluation procedures to be in evidence. The school setting then is a part of the societal arena, not separated from what is deemed relevant in society. The pupil Is a member of society presently, not waiting for the future in becoming a member of the real world.

Objectives in the Curriculum

Objectives for teachers to implement in the classroom harmonize with those in the societal arena. These objectives then emphasize pupils

1. becoming contributing members in the home setting.

2. …

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