Educational Reform in a Pluralistic Society
My personal philosophy of education is that every child has the right to an
education. This education should be such that every student has the equal opportunity
to succeed and learn at the highest level they are capable.
I believe that the purpose of education is to educate people who are well-rounded
individuals. By well-rounded, I am referring to graduates who will be able to apply their
education to numerous aspects of life. This includes people who are going to college
and people who will be entering the work force directly from high school. Every person
should have a wide base of knowledge to draw from and add to throughout their life.
This type of education allows those who wish to pursue a higher education to draw upon
their education in a more intellectual way, and those that choose to work can draw upon
their education in a more “practical” way. Those people who do not pursue education
further will still have a knowledge base that allows them to view many aspects of life with
A second reason I believe that education should be geared toward creating
well-rounded individuals is that I think this will greatly improve the state of our nation. A
majority of our most productive, happy citizens are those ho have had a wide variety of
experiences and have a broad knowledge base. Being able to accept many differences
that occur throughout the human race occurs more readily among those with a broad
When deciding what level of government should be responsible for education, I
believe that the primary responsibility should rest on the federal government. The role
of the federal government should be to regulate the standards of education. This should
include monitoring every school in the United States of America to make sure that all
students are receiving comparable education. As a result, curriculum standards should
be set at a national level. The federal government should keep a establish a national
council to decide the standards for each subject area. Representatives from each state
would be appointed to monitor their own state’s progress.
At the state level, state appointed committees would oversee the progress of the
national curriculum. State committees should decide which textbooks will be adopted.
By letting states adopt their own textbooks, this keeps some local control.
On a local level, each school district would be responsible for deciding how the
federal curriculum standards should be implemented.
I believe that every school should strive for both excellence and equality in public
education. Considering ‘excellence’ as students who are working at the highest level
they are capable of at the current time, and ‘’equality’ as an equal opportunity for each
student to learn. (equality does not necessarily mean that each student learns the same
information, but that they are learning under the conditions that suit them the best)
One of the best ways to create an environment that combines equality and
excellence is to use a system similar to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory.
This theory is an excellent example of combining excellence and equality. Equality is
created because the activities and teaching methods focus on everyone’s strengths. An
education would not be considered equal by my standards if teachers repeatedly teach
in ways that certain students cannot comprehend.
Examples of excellence can also be found in the multiple intelligence theory. By
finding the way that each student learns, each child will be able to do their best work.
When implementing these ideas, the role of the student is the most important.
While teachers are extremely important to the learning process, the students ultimately
have control over whether or not they learn anything.The success of equality and
excellence depends upon what kind of commitment the student is willing to make to
After the role of the student and the teacher have been defined, I believe that
education should seek to develop critical thinking skills, not supply students with a
reservoir of factual data. Factual data is important, but the ability to know that the Battle
of Bull was fought on July 21, 1861 is not going to help in a problem solving situation,
which is one of the most important skills to have in life.
I do not believe that meaningful educational reform is possible in a pluralistic,
democratic society. There are too many differences among Americans to be able to
decide on what educational reforms are necessary. Today, the public is convinced that
our country’s educational system is not at the level it should be. Most people agree that
reforms are necessary. Problems arise, however, when the questions of what to reform
and how to reform education are asked. I do not believe that truly beneficial decisions
Of all the philosophers that we have studied I would place myself among the
philosophers who advocate experience and wide range of base knowledge. Above all
others, I have discovered myself agreeing most with the ideas of Rousseau.
Some of Rousseau’s ideas that have stood out include his belief that children
must learn by experience, and that learning is more meaningful when it is “owned”.
It is hard to find an elementary school teacher who does not believe that
experience is the best way to learn. Yet even though it is pretty much assumed in
today’s classrooms, I still keep experiences at the top of my priority list. Just as Emile
learned quickly from his experiences in the garden, children in school learn quickly from
experiences. This type of learning lasts a lifetime.
I also agree with Rousseau’s idea that creating a sense of ownership will make
learning more meaningful. This can be applied across many aspects of education –
including discipline, academics, moral education, etc… In Emile, Rousseau comments
that if he makes the student feel that he has put hi time, his labor, and his effort into
projects (the garden) than the student will take care of the garden more carefully than if
the garden was planted by someone else and the student simply had to tend to it.
These ideas can also be applied to discipline in the classroom. If children are
held responsible for their actions, than they are much more likely to control themselves
in potentially disruptive situations.
These ideas are the basis of my philosophy. I believe that even the students who
have lower academic abilities should have an opportunity to receive a comparable
education to those students who will eventually receive their Ph.D., because every
student will eventually contribute to our society, and an education helps determine
whether this contribution will be positive or negative.