Education is one of the most powerful and important things in our life. In the present day, gaining knowledge through education is a distinct process that we have to go through in order to be able to survive in this world and to maximize the potential that we have. One of the institutions which provide an education, a good environment, and tools to help student learn are schools. However, in Gatto’s opinion, schools have done a great job in turning children into children (154). School provides an easy way to solve a problem and teaches students to obey reflexively.
Gatto also complains how school keeps infantilizing students and as a result, it prevents students from growing. In order to face this problem, improvement is needed. One of the ways to do that is by changing the school system. In “Social Class” by Jean Anyon, she has done researches that compare several types of schools, which are categorized based on the social classes. In fact, the type of schools such as professional or elite school, which are mentioned in Anyon’s essay, can lead to a solution to Gatto’s critique about school.
Despite having disadvantages at the beginning of making changes, it will still be better if the professional or elite school system can be a template of schools in order to improve and to maximize students’ talents and skills. Moreover, adjustments are needed along the process. Most of the school system has their disadvantages. Some of them might have a lot of disadvantages while some of them have more advantages than others. The same is true of the professional or elite school system. Since there is nothing perfect in this world, this system also has its own disadvantages.
Students have different paces of learning and also different ways of learning. Therefore, it might be hard for some students to be able to cope with this kind of system. Some students might face difficulty when they are learning under a very structured and formal education system, while others might have problems because of their different values that they are brought up with. For those who are uncomfortable learning under a formal education system, they will probably feel restricted because of the formal structure that a school usually offers.
Schools usually determine students when to go to class or what to wear. For some students, the conditions are controlling them and restricting them from their own choices or freedom. As for the value differences, students from lower social classes might experience more difficulties. The environment where you grow up will determine your values of life. Although education systems are meant to treat people equally, it will still be hard for lower social classes’ students to accept the learning system from higher social classes’ education system. One of the example is the choice of university they want to go.
Higher social classes’ students are able to afford top universities which are usually more expensive. In contrast, students from lower social classes might not be able to afford those universities even though they are smart and intelligent. Therefore, they might have different goals and visions for their future life. Referring back to Anyon’s essay, professional or elite schools give students chances to maximize their abilities and talents. Moreover, it teaches students how to manage the resources they have around them rather than to wait for teachers to prepare everything for the students.
In the professional school, students are being asked to express their ideas and concepts. The teachers prefer using the question, “What do you think they best way is? ” over, “Which one is the correct answer? ” This will help developing students’ analytical thinking. A similar model is also applied to the elite schools. The teachers encourage their students to analyze the problem and come up with the best solution. Students are rarely given the answer directly. On the other hand, they will be challenged to find it by themselves. The school also gives more freedom to the students to learn how to control themselves (Anyon 184).
By knowing the major characteristics, which help to develop the students, it will be easier to replicate the same condition to the public school. By using an elite or professional school system as a template, we should have an image of how education will improve if schools use the new systems. The essential part of the professional or elite school system is the way they include students to interact and to respond about things they have learned. In fact, education is an active process rather than a passive one.
Now, the questions are, “how do schools manage to teach all students as individuals? and “how are we going to break the preexisting cycle? ” The problem itself is a cycle that keeps going on. As Newton has said, an object or in this case an “idea” at motion will remain at a state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. Relating this to the school problem, the school system is a cycle which generates an “army of robots”. Gatto said before, “their teachers were every bit as bored as they were” (148). These kinds of teachers will generate the similar kind of students. Because teachers teach with a lack of passion, the students are also impassionate with studying.
These will lead to schools becoming more boring and produce the same boring students. Some of the students who become the teacher will do the same thing. Therefore, it becomes a cycle –an ineffective and boring one. There has to be an “external force” which is applied to this problem in order to stop the cycle. In the case of moving object, an external force could be anything. For the object which is being thrown upward, gravity will be the external force to stop the initial movement of the object. While in the case of the school system, a new curriculum is a better option to stop the cycle.
Due to the fact that we need something new to make changes, the new curriculum will be a system that provides a condition or an environment where students can develop their skills and abilities. Using the example of high school students, it is better to let them choose their own subjects that they want to learn. Although students are allowed to choose their own classes, the school has to set several main subjects as their prerequisites classes. Prerequisites classes are needed to prepare their basic skills or at least give them some fundamental preparation before going to some more specific classes.
This new system will provide them some spaces to develop their skills according to their abilities. Furthermore, students are encouraged to make choices rather than being told to learn certain things. In fact, it is not only the school system itself that needs to be changed but the teachers teaching at the school also have to be retrained. Teachers play a big role in educating students, therefore, schools need to have passionate teachers. In addition, the teachers have to have certain skills especially the skill to challenge students and to maximize their abilities.
By getting further training, teachers are able to learn several ways to help students maximizing their skills. For example, a mini role-play of teaching in class would help teachers to start asking questions to students. Challenging students to think will be one way to develop their critical thinking. Teachers also need to start paying attention at the way they ask questions so that those questions will challenge students to develop more. A lot of things might seem tiny and detail but in students’ learning process, those tiny little things will bring huge effects for them.
To make differences and to achieve something better will be a long and tough process, the same thing applies when trying to form a better school. This process will take a lot of time and efforts from the schools as well as from the students. While knowing that some of the students will face a difficult situation because of the differences in values, it is still a better choice to start making changes rather than not doing anything at all. The uncomfortable situation or environment is inevitable. Moreover, it is usual for the students to feel that way.
A change means asking students to do things in an unfamiliar way, which is hard to make them feel comfortable especially when they are accustomed to those situations –which they used to have. But let us think it the other way around! A quote given by a teacher says, “Think globally, act locally! ” In the beginning, it will be a challenging situation for the students. Do not worry allowing students to experience challenges because challenges are student’s opportunity to grow. This uncomfortable feeling is just temporary. The long-term goal is the one we want to achieve and the difficulties are the stepping-stones to achieve the goal.
Applying to the disadvantages mentioned before, they will only happen for a short period of time. Students need to overcome those difficulties rather than demanding easy and unchallenging environments. The new school system will prepare them to be ready so that they are not going to be weak when they are facing some difficulties in their life. In fact, the world where they live in will not be a world that always adjusts to a person’s will. When the world cannot adjust, the students have to be ready to adjust and work things out.
Professional or elite school system mentioned by Anyon has a better template to maximize student’s abilities and talents. This system will challenge students to think critically and to use every resource around them. The process of applying this system to every school will not be an easy process because it takes time and efforts from the both sides –schools and students. In addition, difficulties in the middle of the process are inevitable especially in the beginning of changing. At the end, these will all be worthy for educating a more intelligent nation.
Courtney from Study Moose
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