Our 21st century society can be characterized as global and technological. We need our schools and educators to keep up with the trends. If schools can’t provide students with an education, that prepares them for society, then you simply have a failing school. In our society today there is a major problem with high school dropouts. Students are becoming bored with the education they are receiving, mostly due to poor instruction and inadequate curriculum.
As a generality, there seems to be a lack of passion among teachers; they seem to be growing comfortable with teaching the same material year after year without striving to be innovative. Schools need to promote diversity, competition and innovation, but instead seem too involved with standardization of tests. This is not only a bad way to teach but it promotes elitism. The article “Tests that Fail Democracy’ puts it well. As Gregory Shafer says, “Tests aren’t about measuring performance. Rather, they are governmental strategies to abandon children from lower socioeconomic areas while controlling schools and searchers”(134).
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The principles of democracy promote excellent learning because they encourage diversity, choice, and debate. Democracy is diverse individuals coming together as a group to accomplish universal, common goals. As we are all unique and different trying to live in collective harmony, we need to be accepting, respectful and open. As stated by Professor Hoffman in her lecture, “To be democratic means to include as many people as possible” (Hoffman). Equal participation is also required from all those included in the social group. A democracy makes everything inclusive and accessible.
This promotes equal opportunity for all among the social community. While the majority holds the power, there needs to be mutual respect for the minority. A democracy is dependent on interactive collaboration to achieve common goals and ultimately make society better. Diversity is a principle of democracy that promotes excellent learning. Student demographic diversity, diversity of faculty, as well as diversity of curriculum is important. As made clear by Mike Rose, it is imperative that curriculum engages all students, even those who do not come from advantaged backgrounds.
Standardized tests simply do not do this. We need to open up curriculum and include the stories of Native Americans, and African American and people from Iraq. We need stories that provide a vast diverse bucket of knowledge in order to not alienate individuals. In the article “Crossing Boundaries” Rose states, “The institutional messages that students receive in the books they’re issued and the classes they take are powerful”(79). These messages need to be diverse and make people feel better about them and promote good learning.
In order to get people to listen they must feel connected to the material they are learning. With large classes it is nearly impossible to connect with everyone in simply Just one way. Classes that can be very effective and educational usually have guest speakers that may appeal to different groups. While diversity is important in good educational systems it is not all you need. Choice is another constituent of democracy that is needed for high-level education. To make choices intelligently individuals require information. Nell Nodding examines Democracy in schools, in his article “Renewing Democracy in Schools”.
He feels schools often fall short n giving students experiences that lead them to be engaged participants of democratic life. It is about teaching students to examine, excavate, contradict, and most importantly to think for themselves. Nodding states “Choice figures prominently in liberal/ democratic theories”(124). The importance of choice cannot be denied in our education systems. As Nodding goes on to say, “The choice of where to live, with whom to associate, what sort of work to do, which professionals to consult, which merchants to patronize, how to spend our leisure time, how to worship, what to read… Sees are the choices we cherish” (124-25) At San Diego State there are critical thinking classes that provide a great example of choice in educational systems. These classes provide students a very open learning environment that I felt really helped promote choice, which lead to superb effective teaching. While choice and diversity are two key ways to promote good learning there is more education can incorporate. In order to promote good learning, schools need to provide a platform for debate. By debate I mean all students must feel comfortable to openly voice their opinion in classroom discussions.
Students need a safe supportive environment, while students and people in general need to feel valued. When discussing students who have not yet mastered standard forms of language or who’s cultures differ from those they are learning in, Nodding states, “Their participation should be strongly encouraged, and classroom conversation should be extended to include this set of problems ad'(131). I know from my experience when Vive had teachers who try and incorporate everyone in the class into the class discussions, the dialogue is much more stimulating.
You get a more diverse and culturally thorough answer through these kinds of teaching methods. We need to use the principle of democracy in our education system to prepare people for our global and technological world. We need to notice that disadvantaged students need not be ignored. As the narrator of “Waiting for Superman” states “For generations experts tended to blame failing schools on failing neighborhoods, but reformers have begun to believe the opposite, that the problems of failing neighborhoods might be blamed on failing schools”(Waiting for Superman).
In the article “De-Demagnification of Schools and Literacy in America”, James Hoffman states, “Educators have a fundamental role to play in the preservation of our democratic way of life” (1 11). We need more funding and scholarships in order to eliminate elitism in our schools. The Journal article by Bilabial Commodious puts it well by saying “True critical educators and scholars are attacking the very cause of the world wide educational crisis: its prevarication that is leaving behind all whose social position and economic power do not allow them the benefits of good education and future respects”(Commodious).