Inclusion of Social and Personal Values In the Public School System

Our American society has become more tolerant and understanding, of the current diverse population and culture, we are experiencing. Therefore, many changes have been made in order to accommodate the different living styles and traditions each group has brought to the American life; from Hispanic languages to Asian values, as an embracing country we have tried to include their various needs and perspectives in our system.

Schools offer support for foreign language speakers, English free-tuition classes for adults are provided in many public schools, translation and interpreter services are available in government agencies; in addition, important information about health, emergency procedures, weather and other issues are presented in different languages. Laws that protect everyone including those of other ethnicities, family background or race are part of the American values and society rules; which shows that even the judicial system is working to make every aspect of the law fair and equal for all.

However, as we have become more opened towards other people differences, we have also become more careful and cautious about the behavior and views we portray or share with others. Religion does not make part of the public school system; political views are not to be discussed in the classroom; personal statements, even when they are hurtful to others, are not to be corrected or ignored; but, how far can personal opinions go before we are allowed to offer a different perspective?. Continue reading

Horace Mann: A Man of Ideas Beyond his Time

Currently, is very difficult to imagine a society where education is not offered to everyone or is not available in every sector of the country. Nevertheless, during Horace Mann’s time, free education was far from been a public matter much less a widely accepted thought; however, courage and dedication from this man was the key to what we are able to enjoy now: a Public Education for all. In the United States we have a vision of educating everyone, is yet to prove if we are doing a good job, but it is certain that no one under any circumstances is denied of an education sometimes even tailored to their individual needs.

Horace Mann was a person with ideals that symbolized equality and opportunities for all. He envisioned a place where people were able to be free, where women worked, mental patients were treated humanely and information was not censored. Thanks to thinkers like Mann, we are now able to enjoy these benefits and have been moving forward from a general society in fear of divulging their thoughts to one more open; a society where we work wherever we want, study anywhere we please and interact with people of all races, nationalities, socio-economic status, backgrounds and even with different theological and philosophical views.

During Horace Mann’s twelve years as part of the Massachusetts Board of Education, he wrote yearly reports that were meant to improve the educational system and conditions of the students. In his First Report he wrote about the importance of having an intelligent local board and public commitment towards education and if you think about it is not like they aren’t current common concerns. I think that perhaps if our Miami-Dade District was more interested in fulfilling its obligation to our students then there wouldn’t be such a hole in the school budget, isn’t it interesting how there is never money for teachers but they are always hiring more administrators?. Continue reading

John Dewey and his Plan To Put Children As The Center of Education

Is hard to believe that what we now consider as a “regular” educational system is far from what it was common before the 1900’s. Among those who helped carve the path for or current school system was John Dewey: a man whose point of view on education, differed greatly from that of the rest of his fellow citizens.

In a society where discipline, strict curriculum, enforced course studies and no feedback from students was the rule, Dewey was able to see beyond what society considered acceptable and provide an improved methodology for education. Despite the fact that he was a philosopher not an educator, Dewey gave great importance to the way schools were being run and thought that a reform was needed in order for them to fulfill their true purpose: encourage students to learn and understand at the same time. Before Dewey, all schools imposed their curriculum, teachers were the leaders and only their opinion mattered, students were to be in complete silence and obey to every order without refuting and learning consisted of memorization and repetition never comprehension.

To John Dewey, ideas and learning were tools that people could use to change or improve their circumstances. Dewey considered schools to be the link between the child and the man and thought they should play the role of facilitator of discovery and provider of experiences to which children hold on to find their true interests. Dewey was against the uniformity of students because to him it takes away the chance for them to develop as different people each one from the other; in addition, he argued textbooks were only current and objective as man would wanted them to be and left little room for individual perspectives. Continue reading

Engaging Troubling Students: A Constructivist Approach

In the book Engaging Troubling Students: A constructivist approach (2005), the authors Danforth and Smith give us an honest and insightful perspective about students with emotional or behavioral disorders and their interactions with the school system. The main purpose of the book was to encourage educators, communities and school personnel to analyze children’s behavior and the different events in their life that may be correlated to their conduct and performance in school.

The authors intended to be open and clear about their ideas and opinions on students that present challenging behavior in the school setting; moreover, they wanted to demonstrate that objective research may not be enough to comprehend students’ attitude because it lacks the affective factor and personal input that it could only be obtained through communication and interaction.

The authors use a critical constructivist approach, which is a combination of critical theory and constructivism, and that seeks to share ideas and opinions on how troubled students are educated in American schools. Since critical theory analyzes the social and economic injustices in society, it serves the purpose of providing an objective and analyzable perspective on students’ way of living and how this affects their behavior and performance; whereas, constructivism adds the individual factor to the approach by focusing on the students intellectual and emotional experiences which are undoubtedly brought into the classroom setting.

Both sides provide the authors with the opportunity to use socio-economic data and school policies, as well as examples of communication and interaction between students and educators, which could be helpful when looking for resources that would provide solutions to improve relationships among EBD children and the school system. Continue reading