Schooling in Society
Every generation eventually grapples with the shackles of the past, attempts to assert their power, and struggles to define and shape the society that they live in.
In the United States, a heated debate is taking place about schooling and education reform. This is not a two-sided debate. There are many factions and alliances, all of which are fighting for different things; sometimes as allies, and sometimes in opposition. But what is lost in many of these debates is the larger role of education in a democracy. Put aside the debate on standardized tests or charter schools, the question, in my mind, that must fist be answered is this: What is the role of schooling in our society?
This question is of great importance, because we cannot answer other questions without first addressing this question. And this is no simple question. If the idea of schooling is a place where humans go to learn and socialize, to inquire about the world and discover themselves, then who should set the curriculum and run the school is arguably different than if role of schooling is to create an informed citizenry. And, if the purpose of schooling is to create informed citizens, what is the line between true learning and education and propaganda? Who decides? I understand that these are not mutually exclusive questions, as school can be a place to do both, but these questions demonstrate the complexity of the issue that all to often gets ignored. Instead of talking about the role of schooling in society, debates focus around topics such as standardized testing and charter schools. And, while these are important topics to discuss, unless we discuss the role of schooling in society first, we will continue to miss the mark.