Education And Its Purpose Essay

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Inglis breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:1) The adjustive or adaptive function.

Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.

This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely.

It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.2) The integrating function.

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. Our educational system really is Prussian in origin, and that really is cause for concern.

Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever "graduated" from a secondary school. The odd fact of a Prussian provenance for our schools pops up again and again once you know to look for it.By the time I finally retired in 1991, I had more than enough reason to think of our schools - with their long-term, cell-block-style, forced confinement of both students and teachers - as virtual factories of childishness.Yet I honestly could not see why they had to be that way.School is meant to determine each student's proper social role.This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records.When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's.Who wouldn't get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student.And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers' lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head.Ariel Durant, who co-wrote an enormous, and very good, multivolume history of the world with her husband, Will, was happily married at fifteen, and who could reasonably claim that Ariel Durant was an uneducated person? We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling," but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. Horace Mann's "Seventh Annual Report" to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here.And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. That Prussian culture loomed large in America is hardly surprising, given our early association with that utopian state.


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