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The background of structural educational inequalities constitutes our conflicted national identity. Public education is an arena of dispute, a direct reflection of the social conflict, contradiction, and paradoxes that exist in our society. Each decade is marked by intense conflict and crisis that follow the definition of educational organizations. Historically, however, American Identity has played a huge role in public education. Without the establishment of an objective or a prefixed national identity, American identity has always been in a state of permanent crisis and has been continually contested by conflicting moral ideas.
There are many examples of such disagreements that have been recorded in historical times. For example, in “Reign of Terror”, Diane Ravitch said, “it’s not test scores that in itself is an illusion, the real crisis is the structure of American public education that reflects deepening conflicting ideals of American equality.” (Pg. xii, Diane Ravitch, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, Knopf, 2013 xi-xii, 3-9 ).
Furthermore, America is a treasure trove of contradiction. For example, in 1776, The Declaration of Independence illustrated the ideas of American equality, stated that the creator created all human beings equally and gave them equal rights. Thirteen years later, the United States Constitution formed, including statements enshrining the institution of slavery. The ideas in these two documents directly conflict one another.
In 1779, in “A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge,” Jefferson proposed a system of public education to be tax-funded for three years for “all the free children, male and female” (wikipedia.org Thomas_Jefferson_and_education). Jefferson felt that education was was the weapon against oppression but his plan failed when Virginia Legislature rejected it. According to Jefferson, there was no more important institution than education in a democratic Republic. He strongly felt that our Country depended on the general diffusion of knowledge among the people, which allowed for the equal opportunity of education for everyone. The only way of creating an enlightened citizen is through public education.
In the mid-19th century, Horace Mann campaigned for public education as he felt that the masses intelligence determine success. He argued that it was necessary for the republic to undergo destruction to prepare children to be good citizens. (The New York Times, 1953). Education can thus be viewed as the equalizer for human factors especially the social aspects.
Both Jefferson and Mann viewed Schools as the great equalizer rather than the great reproducer of inequalities based on wealth. They also believed that education was a necessity for the creation of a stable middle class. It is stated that elementary and secondary education serve to develop character towards competence.
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Thomas Jefferson’s Moral ideas about public education arose from the age of enlightenment and Jefferson personified these ideas (1330). According to him and to the information taken from http://essaywriting.education/essay-writing-help, public education is necessary to diffuse the Monarchial attitudes and values from the colonial period. Jefferson felt strongly in that our country depended on free public education available to all. Public education is vital to the Republics’ survival, and schools were a vehicle to educate the young to become democratic and in awakening citizens to make them intelligent and informed. The primary reason for public education as cited by Jefferson and other early leaders was the need to produce democratic citizens who would understand political and social issues, participate in civic life, vote wisely, and protect their rights and freedoms. A democratic citizen is a citizen who is inquisitive, possesses good listening skills, and can change their thought in the process. Such a person can evaluate information critically and engage in dialogue and debate.
Out of the Age of Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, two differing approaches to education formed. The first approach is “depositing”, which depicts education as a bureaucratic tyranny. Through this process, the student is taught to trust the given thoughts of others over his critical faculties. The opposing is “drawing out”, which views education as a vehicle of human flourishing. Freire describes these two approaches as the “banking” model and the “problem-posing” model. In the “banking” model, he explains that, “education becomes an act of depositing” where the teacher deposits information and the students “patiently receive, memorize, and repeat” (Freire, 72). The “problem-posing” model instead seeks to eliminate the unequivocal teacher-student distinction and replace it with critical dialogue in which both parties “become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow” (Freire, 80).
Today, Freire’s “banking” concept of education is the approach used throughout public schools in the United States. Public education is a bureaucratic tyranny, utilized by the government as a massive form of control. According to Freire, education involves continuous group discussion, in the form of dialogue, that enables people to acquire the collective knowledge they can use to change society. The role of the teacher includes asking questions that help students in problem posing, codification, and conscientization. (Shor, 1987).
I believe our society has been conditioned not to question but accept information from higher authority as true. When one questions something or develops their own thoughts and ideas, peers perceive it as being defiant and unintelligent. I believe our government, as a form of oppression, systematically implemented this. I feel that the government should utilize education as a vehicle for controlling the masses.
I also trust in the ideals Jefferson had for public education in that, they are necessary and are not being used today in American public education. I believe there is a crisis in American education. The society advocates for individuality but still maintains uniformity. The current society pulls a mask over your face if they feel you serve as a problem. The government does not take the interest of the public into consideration but prioritize what is best for them. Our coworkers, classmates, friends and family have stopped caring about each other and started to care about the size of their bank account and their popularity. We now tend to measure someone not by perseverance, but by material factors such as the size of their house and the cost of their car. Societal status is not attained by good deeds but by stepping over whoever you please to climb to the artificial “top”.
The generation has made us illiterate in that we are unable to think and develop our thoughts and opinions. We now tend to leave everything up to the experts and accept everything as true with no chance of questioning the concepts. Inefficient communicators and young adolescents start to disengage from school in the middle years because they are unable to connections what they are studying and their real-life experiences. Sometimes, they are just bored, and it is the adults responsibility to ensure that these children’s lives in the school experience is engaging, meaningful, and intellectually stimulating.