The belief that education is the key to success has long dominated the minds of teachers, parents, and students. It might be true depending on how one defines success in life. One can also agree with the fact that there are numerous factors which greatly influence the way of achievement of educational goals. They include the manner of organization, the educational environment, medium, affordability as well as the availability of education. To achieve any goal in life, one must first define it and further create a standard for its achievements. This procedure is common to education professionals, practitioners, and stakeholders. This essay describes the goal of education, the factors that influence this goal, and the ways if its achievement. Furthermore, it also discusses how my high-school experiences reflect some of the issues covered in my recent learning processes.
My High-School Experiences
I attended the Villanova Preparatory School. I would describe my high school as a private, Catholic school for rich families, located in a very secluded rural area in the city Ojai, CA.
My high school had beautiful gardens and a well-groomed landscape during the spring and summer. In terms of its physical appearance, it was decent and well maintained. Classrooms had common furniture one would find in a typical classroom. Extracurricular activities such as sports were usually fun for both spectators and participants because they were competitive and gripping. The school had basketball and tennis courts and an Olympic-sized swimming pool complex. Therefore, most students participated in sports activities with delight. My high school empowered action mostly by supporting and encouraging students who participated in sporting activities. Some students even did better at sports than they did at academics.
Learning policies did not condole absenteeism or concurrent failure without tangible reasons. Students had access to an e-library and an on-campus situated library containing both old and new books. At some point, we studied some courses that some classmates and I considered a waste of time or somewhat irrelevant to our future disciplines and intended professions. As mentioned by Chapman, under the topic Social Construction of Schooling, “People should not be taught what they do not need to know.” It is necessary that all unnecessary courses that can be considered a waste of time or distraction should be either canceled or replaced with new relevant courses.
We had white male and female instructors. Some teachers were friendly and open-minded and ready to offer learning assistance whenever it was requested of them by any student. One could tell that some lecturers were just doing their job. As for my experience with instructors, I had teachers whose classes were remarkable because they were communicable and open to students, yet they had a good control over their classes. Some teachers were the opposite. I could adopt some of the learning methods used by the lecturers, which most classmates found interesting.
In terms of student demographics, the majority of internal students were local Americans while most boarding students were mainly Asian (Chinese/Korean). There were quite a number of issues that depicted inequalities among students of different races, such as segregation. As much as I can recall, we had only Asian and American students studying there. Although, there are education policies that indirectly encourage segregation and promote racial discrimination among students at the school. Donato and Hanson argued that regardless of whatever reasons available to justify direct or indirect propagation of segregation at local or state levels, segregation is a total hindrance to achieving the educational goals (202). This type of segregation is what Donato and Hanson referred to as "de jure segregation" (202). It arises from government actions and policies that segregate students based on their race. This sort of segregation was common to African-Americans in the United States decades ago and it still exists up till now. In fact, it resulted in the building of Black Universities and colleges (Chapman, Eugenics, Gender, and the Creation of Fitter Families). Mexican-Americans are also currently experiencing the same situation in America (Donato and Hanson 202).
According to the U.S. Department of Education, a specific amount of top education priorities was created to improve learning and teaching performance at all levels in the USA. These goals help determine the successful outcomes of its "cradle-to-career education strategy" (U.S. Department of Education). It is a five-year strategy employed to monitor the progress of educational goals that the department has set aside. The intention is to use evidence gathered to initiate improvements in education policies and programs (U.S. Department of Education).
U.S. Department of Education's priority performance goals include:
- Increasing the attainment of a college degree in America;
- Supporting the implementation of college- and career-ready assessments and standards;
- Ensuring the provision of effective teachers and leaders to improve learning;
- Ensuring equitable educational opportunities;
- Supporting comprehensive assessment systems of early learning;
- Enabling evidence-based decision making.
In the book Big Picture by Littky and Gabrelle, the authors defined the goals of education in the light of a quote by John Dewey, which states "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." Moreover, Littky and Gabrelle stated that the real goals of education should:
- Enable learners to become lifelong learners and be passionate about education;
- Prepare learners with the ability to take risks;
- Enable critical thinking and problem-solving reasoning;
- Ensure the possession of integrity, moral courage, and self-respect;
- Encourage creativity and perseverance;
- Enable learners to read, write, speak, and work well;
- Truly enjoy their jobs and lives (Littky and Gabrelle).
Some of these points mentioned above are similar to Chapman’s views depicted under the topic Progressive Education. Evidently, learning by doing will improve student's level of critical thinking. Students can also learn faster by collaborating with fellow students. Such collaborative learning methods could involve group study and group assignments among others.
During my high school days, I did not really have an instructor I perceived as a role model. Since my school was a mixed race school, white Non-Hispanic dominated demographics. Racial discrimination and inequality were some of the issues one could participate in addressing. Foreign nationals like the Asians who were the part of the student populace discriminated against by others. If my school as an openly democratic school, they could probably freely discuss the issues with the school authority and duly participate in dealing with the issue. Chapman under the topic Democratic Schools states that students are perceived as stakeholders and as such they can express their thoughts, challenge the authority and objectives of their school if they feel the need to do so. Allowing such means, the school authority would constantly be under pressure to satisfy different thoughts, requests, bias opinions, and actions. However, students can easily note and report about unwanted or irrelevant courses. Such reports can further be assessed by the authorities to determine and apply the necessary solutions or actions (Chapman).
Comparing previous learning experiences with the present helps to discern the best learning methods. Education as a form of empowerment of teachers and students can be associated with several other issues and factors, including the issue of deculturization. Cultural tendencies could influence student's willingness to participate in learning. Teachers may also be not open to acknowledging or understanding the fact that different students exhibit different cultures (Rosenberg). Furthermore, learning approaches also vary from one culture to another. Instead of segregating students based on their race, the right teachers should be available to students with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. By the right teachers, I mean someone who understands the students and their respective culture to a tolerable level. It does not imply that some students should get preferential treatment, but the teachers could be perceived as moral saviors in such a case.
In conclusion, the goals of education should be summarized as a lifetime process that enables individuals to become knowledge and truth seeking persons. They should be intellectual, creative, passionate, loving, innovative thinking, caring, respectful, and responsibility conscious citizens. If such persons can replicate these values into the society and the world around them, then they could promote the continuity of learning even outside lecture halls and classrooms.