Category Archives: My Vision

What do you want from our schools?

In my previous post I made the case that parents are responsible for their children’s development, and that schools and community organizations are educational partners in that parental mission.  I also described four competing objectives for our schools.  And I provided my opinion about how much of a role schools should play on each of the four objectives.

Now it’s your turn. 

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What do we want from our schools? (part 2)

See Part 1 here

There are four schools of thought on what our schools should be doing today.  These can be summarized as follows:

  • KNOWLEDGE:  Students should master a specific body of knowledge (biology, algebra, world history) that is foundational for future learning
  • SKILLS:  Students should acquire skills and learn behaviors that are desirable to employers (critical thinking, teamwork, work ethic)
  • VALUES:  Students should learn and internalize the values and norms of the community
  • SELF-ACTUALIZATION:  Students should discover their interests, capabilities, and future opportunities

Most of us who are not educators by profession might see each of the four as having some merit.    But most of the different schools of thought emphasize and elevate one of the four goals above the other three.

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What do we want from our schools? (Part 1)

From early on in the history of the United States, free public education has been part of the American identity.  President John Adams captured the idea in 1786 as follows:

“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”

Adams laid out principles that carry through to today:  every person should be educated; schools should be maintained at the public expense (not through private charity); and schools should be everywhere there are people.

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