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Purposes and Meanings of American Education Essay

As Americans, we take education for granted. We see it as a right that everyone is entitled to an education. This was not always the case. There was a time in America’s history in which education was not a basic right for everyone. In this essay I will be discussing the purposes of American education, how the American educational system has changed through the years for students, what the meaning of American education is to me, and about the new understandings I have gained about the American education. The purposes of American education have changed in many different ways.

Education has been used for: preparing children for citizenship, creating a skilled workforce, teaching cultural literacy, preparing students for college, helping students become critical thinkers, and helping students compete on a global scale. As the purpose of American education has changed through the years, the way students were taught has changed. American education has not always been an entitlement granted to students regardless of race or gender. American education has undergone periods of segregation and was discriminatory to students based primarily off pre-judgments of Caucasian men.

America’s educational program’s first purpose was to educate children in preparation for citizenship to America. However, based on trends, the school system was curved by the Gary Plan and implemented a system of “work-study-play” in the school. What seemed to be a great idea drew controversy from concerned parents who thought that their students were just being trained for jobs of working in factories. Segregation was something that was another huge issue with our school system.

Segregation caused an in-equal balance to the American education program in which students of color were separated to the point where the information being taught to students of color was three to five years behind that of the Caucasian students. When segregation was ended there were still discrepancies in the American education. An example of this was when students were young and given standard tests. The students who did well were put into college preparatory classes. Those students who didn’t do well were put into hands-on classes, like shop, to prepare them for the work force.

Many times these were classrooms filled with minorities not because of their intelligence, but because of the cultural bias of the test. Most of these prejudices have been eliminated to form an education system that is inclusive of all students. To me the meaning of American education is that everyone, no matter of race, religion, or abilities is entitled to learn. To me American education puts everyone on the same level of opportunity to be the best person that they can be. It gives the students the right to learn current information in their least restrictive environment, free from unfair biases.

American education is where we have teachers who are qualified to teach students at a high level and to work to produce the best students. What I have learned about the American education is that we have had more problems than just segregation. The educational system has changed many times throughout our countries history. There are many things that have not been told to students. I learned that although the American education has changed for the better, there is still a lot of work left to be done to fix the problems of the past. I never knew or realized how much the American educational system has changed throughout history.

My eyes have been opened to the parts of history that are often left untold, such as how we are still in primarily in a Caucasian male dictated educational system. The American educational system, although it is all too often taken for granted, is constantly changing. It has taken many forms from getting children ready for citizenship, to helping students become critical thinkers, and helping students compete at a global scale. We have gone from a system of segregation to an inclusive educational program, and although we still have things to fix, our education is on the right track to make our educational system the best it can be.


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