EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

What is education?

In Commentary on September 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Is education a great equalizer? Is it an institution that aims to reproduce the privilege of some over others?

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  1. From what I have experienced I think education does not aim to reproduce the privilege of others. I think this definitely happens as a product of what educators are told to focus on. In every class educators are told what to focus on and what to not place emphasis on. Perhaps I think that topic we spend the least on is one that if looked at could change an aspect of the world? So I don’t think we are trying to reproduce the privileges of certain individuals but I do think the norm of what is experienced in education is focused on a certain outlook and thought of those who create what is taught.

  2. I think in many cases education does aim to reproduce the privilege of some over others. Countries with undeveloped or underdeveloped educational systems are the prime example of this. In many cases, education is the great equalizer, but in reality, education does not exist as we know it in many parts of the world. It is in those ‘other’ parts of the world that the elite are in many cases educated while the poor or less well off are not. This may not be as true in western society, but can it not be said that those with more money often attend better educational institutions, especially at the post-secondary level? If you can attain the same education as anyone else, then yes, education SHOULD be the great equalizer, I am afraid that this may not be the case for quite some time however. With that being said, there is hope: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/technology/personaltech/a-surge-in-growth-for-a-new-kind-of-online-course.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    Enjoy.

  3. I agree with Brent. Education is controlled by the government of a given country and this influences what is being taught(curriculum). Inevitably, teachers have no say on what they are teaching, they can only control how they teach, or assess. However, the government does have say in how they assess in terms of large scale testing, such as standardized testing in Alberta. As a result, each country is going to reproduce the privilege of some over others. Of course this is not always the case in countries where education is valued. There will always be some individuals that will not succeed. But, mainly they will reproduce the same individuals in term of their education level because the government is the main control of education in a given society.

  4. I see education as a systemic way of teaching learning. The results are either intentional or unintentional. Some intentional ones are teaching math and literacy skills. Unintentional ones could be: socializing, ‘street’ smarts, how to lie or be honest. The ones that cause issues I believe are unintentional, like the reproduction of class and privilege. I don’t believe one person/teacher/educator ever seeks to recreate this.
    From an economic perspective, the purpose of education is to teach people specific sets of skills for all the jobs out there. That means, we need somebody to work at a bottle depot, in waste management, trades and other areas of work. A problem I can point out is people don’t see the value in certain jobs (such as the ones listed above). If we lived in a political system that put every job at the same status, there wouldn’t be this class issue. The problem from there is that I think people will lose their motivation. I think there is a certain level of humanity in us that enjoys a little competition. Of course though we arrive back at the same problem that not everybody gets a fair start.
    Unions are a way to create value, appeal and security in a job that some people may not see as important, such as working in a grocery store. Although when every job out there desires a collective voice to speak for them, demand outweighs supply. Meaning, our government is incapable of providing the needs for every person.

  5. Education definitely works to the benefits of some individuals while greatly hindering the chances of success for others. It is clear that the educational system that we face today has numerous flaws – the most obvious being that it prepares students to be post-secondary attendees, when in fact many of them will not. However, as time passes there seems to be a development of workplace centered programs in high school to serve these students who have no plans of being future university graduates. So although the institution of education itself may appear to be flawed, I feel like there are numerous changes that are working to make it better overall.

    In my opinion, the point of education is to prepare students with the basic knowledge and life skills so that they may attain a position in society in which they will be able to provide some sort of service to others as well as themselves (either directly or indirectly). I think that the main goal of education should be to have students leaving the institution thinking that they will try their hardest to be a working and contributing part of society, instead of someone who will do everything they can to avoid work and feed off of the system.

  6. I feel a main goal of education that gets overlooked is equality. Education should be the great equalizer. Education should provide equal, nondiscriminatory, opportunities to succeed in becoming successful members of society. Education should produce students that are comparable in the competitive job market. Education should develop a student’s natural talent and provide the necessary skills to be competitive in society, thus providing an equality of opportunity. I believe a necessary aspect of equality in the educational institution is to provide equality of resources. An individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities are largely determined by their cultural capital in the way one is raised and the values emphasized and their innate abilities including social, mental and physical abilities. As developed by Callinicos this equality does not necessarily mean give every student, classroom or school the identical materials but rather providing the necessary resources to support inequalities in natural assets, to equalize the circumstances.

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