Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Disenfranchised deserve a Voice

The field of education is under attack. This is not a new fight, or even a new concept, yet the whole field today is under a massive attack from governments, social classes and technology. Education has been intertwined within the field of politics, and it is within this role that various factors have become more affected than others.

This blog includes excerpts from a Research Document I have worked on which focused on the History of Education through a qualitative lens.

The field of education as we know it today began in the United States in 1635. The two known schools of this time were separated by location, yet not specifically by social class. The first grammar school opened was in Boston, and in the South (Virginia) the Colonies opened there first public school. Both of these locations provided education to those that could afford it and had that those in attendance knew religion and the rules of the commonwealth. In 1936 Harvard is opened, and soon after the first law school arrives in Boston as well. The importance of these events is that they are our starting platform for understanding how education in the Colonies and further in the development of the United States leads us toward today.

The primary education of upper class children in colonial days included reading, writing, simple math, poems, and prayers. The primary textbook used was the Bible, and texts that involved in education were of religious or moral undertakings. As children grew older their schooling prepared them for their eventual roles in plantation life. While boys studied more advanced, academic subjects, the girls learned to assume the duties of the mistress of a plantation. Education was provided for white students only and was privately taught.

What we learn is that from the beginning there has been a separation of social class within education, which, as we develop further has become even more segregated in 2011. During the first national implementation of education, the United States once again developed a system grown from religion. At this time wealthy children had a tutor (always a man) who would teach them privately. Some boys went to grammar school and sometimes even college but never girls. Girls were given lessons on how to run a home. It wasn't even expected for girls to spend any of their time reading! Instead their mothers taught them how to cook, sew, preserve food, direct servants and serve an elegant meal.

Grammar Schools came into existence with the growth of middle-class businesses in the late 1700s. These business leaders had a demand for a secondary education that would provide practical instruction in many subjects, from navigation and engineering to bookkeeping and foreign languages. Students needed more than a basic understanding of survival, and business demanded people able to work coming out of school, rather than in the apprentice system. Religion moved aside for commercial topics.

This system was still designed expressly for white wealthy families who could afford to send students to private education.
After what I witnessed over the past five years of progressive movement in the field of Education through the political spectrum, I would have to now share that I believe that many would like to see the old ways return, and or are so upset that they ever went away.

As an educator myself, I truly believe that there needs to be a cultural change in education. This direction is not to close off education, and create situations of vouchers, or tax breaks or even break down education to Charter versus Public schooling. We need to see what works around the world, develop a national platform and truly create an American Education system that is open to all.

The concept of the Founding Fathers, Religion, and even traditional philosophy needs to grow and develop. Those afraid of change are going to remove the forward concepts that research opens for us. Remember, research teaches us that the planet has been around 8-10 billion years, and that the United States is only 235 years old (2011). There is a lot still to learn, and the most important lesson is that when culture does not adapt, then it crumbles.

Today (2011) everyone deserves the chance to receive a high quality education. Funded by the greatest country in the world, and taught by fairly paid, educated teachers who enjoy their career. Politics needs to be removed from the classroom, and parents need to have less control, and more guidance. Politicians who make rules need to be held accountable for actions to both the rich and the disenfranchised.

My final thought on this matter: Education is a word that alone tends to lean toward learning. As someone that has spent the past sixteen years studying the value of education, and working to understand why the disenfranchised remain this way. It is not refreshing to learn that education continues to create rifts between the social classes, yet through the use of real qualitative research, we will be able to understand how to reach people that are among the lower class within the field of education. Then, as the research is further developed, curriculum can be developed so that people of all socio-economic levels can be reached. Politics needs to step away from fast answers and move toward proper research. We all deserve quality change.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Education needs a new Culture

In discussing Education with a few people this week, I have come to realize why the Legislators around the country are blaming the system for being a failure.
There is a concept that Education is a professional career. Yet some of the educators that I have been speaking with spend time being less than professional

Someone has told me that it takes a village to raise a child, yet in the American system of life, the village is ignored in favor of individuation. Students share with me that it is more important to wear any clothes they want, act how they want, and speak how they want, rather than to become the best citizen they can be. This is not professional and this is part of the reason why Education is under attack.

Education never deserved to be degraded in this manner. Culture is part of a nation. The American population looks across continents and shares how smart, intelligent and focused other nations are, yet as a nation the United States does not want to change. Instead, as a nation it shares with its population that the students are not to blame, it's just the teachers. Rather than retool the whole system, as a nation we argue over what can be done for the lower class, and how they are part of the problem. The field of education blames the politicians, and when at all possible, continues to blame rather than accept that change is necessary.

Education needs a complete overhaul. This is nothing new. This has been said for many years, and yet every step toward change happens after five steps backwards. This is not acceptable. The American culture continues to attack education as if it was originally planned to be this way. The founding fathers did not have a guide to public education; therefore the people who are pushing this agenda are not stating a truth.
A culture can only change when the people who are involved in the positions of power are willing to accept that what has been done for X years is wrong. The system of education in the United States is blind to its own failure. I strongly believe that if there is going to be a true evolution toward the 21st century, then Politicians need to ignore the crying of the people, and the educators need to remove their bias of perfection, and they all need to meet in the middle.

President Obama states that he knows education is our future, yet we are not funding it. We are not developing new teachers and or considering the review of a global model. Education needs to be overhauled from the ground up. Education needs to focus on all students and not just on the lower 25%. Education is not how you get votes, it is how we open the mind of people and allow information to fill it.
My next post will include a Research Document I have written about the history of Education.