The role of education in America is stated to be the production of students “who are prepared to take their place in society as active citizens” (Krueger and Terese, 2003). The primary purpose of education is the intellectual empowerment gained through interaction with teachers and peers to function effectively in society. Education in the modern world is much more than books and degrees and involves opening up minds to a whole new world, the world in which there are no geographical barriers to knowledge. Education is a powerful means to remove the prejudices from our mind relating to gender, class, caste or race. An educated person will generally respect human kind in all its forms. The aim of education is not to merely gain bookish knowledge; it develops and enhances the ability of an individual to think and perceive the various situations that life offers. The cognitive development and progress of the academician will obviously have a positive impact on the culture and society in which he/she survives.
Thus, education ensures the social development of not only the individual but also the culture with which he/ she is closely related to. Research confirms that the primary purpose of education is “self-improvement” by gaining knowledge to which serves to promote the ability to solve problems and fosters the ability to “earn a living and prosper” (Kennedy, 2007). The ultimate purpose of any education is to enhance the community by ensuring that “every citizen in society” is able to attain the benefits of education in accordance with the goals of Education for All (EFA) and the “No Child Left Behind” Act which emphasizes equal opportunity of education for all the children of America (Gardner, 2008).
The goals of EFA also commit that the needs of “all children, youth and adults” will be met by the year 2015 (Gardner, 2008). The curriculum should be broad based and must comprise of all the relevant subjects including mathematics, science, Literature and languages, Social studies, Arts and physical education as well. The ‘No child Left Behind’ Act (NCLB) has affirmed the inclusion of arts as an equal with other subjects including reading, math, science, and other “core academic subjects” which contribute substantially to produce and develop enhanced learning outcomes in children (U.S. Department of Education).
The learning of arts enables students to enhance their achievements in the academic realm as well as other aspects of life. However, education should not be based entirely on liberal arts and should be career based with a blend of vocational subjects as well since career education provides a platform to individuals for enhanced prospects in life through better job availabilities. Research confirms the relationship between “education and income” where it was noted that the average annual income for full time Bachelors degree workers was “$52,200” while that of “associate degree holder was $38,200” (Krueger and Terese, 2003).
The inclusion of too many electives would provide students with choices so that they would make choices regarding the subjects which they would study and this could result in the omission of crucial subjects like mathematics, science and social studies, which are important for the overall development of students. My personal view is that the there should be no choice in the core subjects while students should be given a choice to choose the Arts subjects such as music, theatre or drama.
There is immense literature on the type of teaching approach to be adopted for educating students. Research confirms that teachers must use a perfect blend of a variety of styles and approaches so that teachers have the potential to “recognize, explain and apply the most beneficial teaching approach to a particular situation” by finding the doubts of students and intervening to clarify these doubts to create a suitable atmosphere of “learning that encourages students to engage with the subject matter” (Ramsden, 2003).
The focus of all teachers should be “on the learning undertaken by students” (Gossman, 2008) so that groups of students attain academic expertise, which necessitates teachers must to reflect the capacity to recognize those students who have doubts and need clarifications so that they can progress in class and the respective subject without any hindrances. In the rapidly changing world of globalism and technological developments, the needs of society play a crucial role in determining what is being taught and how it should be taught. For instance, the penetration of technology and computers in the lives of children now demands that traditional methods of teaching should be replaced by modern methods such as web portals and multimedia to educate children and students and make learning an interesting process rather than simply pedagogical.
With numerous methods in place for teaching students including online learning, discussion boards for exchange of ideas and even the use of IPods to teach and instruct students, the methods used play a crucial role in accomplishing the purpose of education, depending upon the needs and requirements of learners. The transition of society to a great extent impacts the manner of education, for example, the recent augmentation of online distance education has made it possible for geographically distanced students to gain education from institutions of their choice.
Teachers have a primary influence on students, and yield a strong power over them, with their distinctive teaching styles, attitudes and behaviors. The art of good teaching has been researched by scholars and it is generally believed that teaching is an art which involves inviting and retaining the interest of a student in such a manner that the subject taught to the student is not forgotten “to his dying day” (James, 1977). Powerful and good teaching is becoming increasingly important in the current society because the “standards for learning are now higher than they have ever been before” owing to the elevated need of skill among children, students, citizens and workers “to survive and succeed” (Darling-Hammond, 2006).
The National Academy of Education Committee reports that “to make good decisions” in the classroom, teachers must be aware of all the facets of student development including differences in learning, the social, cultural and language differences among students of a class in addition to the individual distinctions in students with regard to “temperaments, interests and approaches to learning” (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005). The report also states that teachers must “keep what is best for the child at the center of their decision making” and realize that the teacher’s actions and strategies have “profound implications for what happens to and for many children in school” (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005). In a study conducted among college students (Weinstein, 1989), potential teachers who were students described a “really good teacher” as one who encompasses the traits of “caring, fairness, openness, intelligence or respect” and works with students to “address their personal concerns and develop healthy self concepts” (Murphy, Delli and Edwards, 2004).
In order to be effective, teachers need to have and demonstrate “competency” in “content knowledge” by illustrating a deep understanding of the concepts they teach and their principle composition, in addition to “pedagogical knowledge” and skills vital for “guiding, managing, assessing and communicating with students” (Murphy et al., 2004). Good teachers display capability by basing their teaching practice on not one but “multiple” models to facilitate student comprehension in the respective subject thereby ensuring student achievement (Murphy et al., 2004).
Given my philosophy of education, the students would be empowered with not only academic but also moral education so that they develop the ability to function as responsible citizens of society and are able to develop crucial competencies to earn and lead a decent life. Education is not only important to individuals for personal and professional success but is a crucial factor in the success of nations as well which is why good teachers are “crucial contributors to students’ learning” (Darling-Hammond, 2006). Economists have found that teachers who teach well will produce “a year and a half’s worth of material” learning in students by using several strategies of motivation through effective “student teacher interaction” which is facilitated by “regard for student perspective” (Gladwell, 2008). In order to accomplish student interaction, good teachers allow for certain amount of flexibility in the classroom to facilitate student engagement. Good teachers also provide feedback to students through “direct, personal response” to particular statements by students (Gladwell, 2008). By making use of powerful and good teaching practices which are becoming increasingly important in the current society, I will be able to adhere to the “standards for learning” which “are now higher than they have ever been before” owing to the elevated need of skill among children, students, citizens and workers “to survive and succeed” (Darling-Hammond, 2006).
Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (with LePage, P., Hammerness, K., & Duffy, H.). (2005). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Darling-Hammond, Linda. (2006). “Constructing 21st-century teacher education.” Journal of Teacher Education 57.3 : 300(15).
Gardner, Marilyn. “Education for all: you can make a difference. (Memberandum).” Childhood Education 85.2 (Winter 2008): 106-N(2).
Gladwell, Malcolm. (2008). “Most Likely to Succeed.” The New Yorker 84.41: 36.
Gossman, Peter. “Teaching development–experience and philosophy (using the three Rs).(Report).” Teacher Education Quarterly 35.2 (Spring 2008): 155.
James, W. (1977). The principles of psychology. In J. J. McDermott (Ed.), The writings of William James: A comprehensive edition (pp. 21-74). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published in 1890).
Kennedy, Mike. (June 1, 2007). “The Reformers.(educational reform).” American School & University 79.11.
Krueger, Carl, and Terese Rainwater (2003). P-16: building a cohesive education system from preschool through postsecondary. (Analysis). Peer Review 5.2 : 4(5).
Murphy, P. Karen, Lee Ann M. Delli, and Maeghan N. Edwards. (2004). “The good teacher and good teaching: comparing beliefs of second-grade students, preservice teachers, and inservice teachers.” The Journal of Experimental Education 72.2: 69(24).
Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education. London, UK: Routledge Falmer.
Weinstein, C. (1989). Taking education students’ perceptions of teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(2), 53-60.