In general, people used to believe that education is essential for every person because it allows to reach a wide range of opportunities in the future and determines the way one will live till the end of his/her days. The public school system is the main provider of education in the USA. It is available for everyone, as it is financially supported by the government. Such a system was adopted at the end of the 18th century after the American Revolution.
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At first, it operated under the parishes and was focused on elementary education. Then common schools appeared. They were meant to teach students reading, writing, and arithmetic. Such an approach was designed by Horace Mann. He also emphasized the value of history and geography. The first normal school was found at the beginning of the 19th century, and soon schooling became compulsory, which also made it federally funded. With time, public secondary and high schools appeared (Applied Research Center para. 7).
The government started to underline the necessity for all children to have the education and implemented acts to make it obligatory. However, a lot of representatives of the general public believe that such a view is wrong. Different ideas towards schooling are revealed even by professionals who have teaching experience. For example, Diane Ravitch explores education from a historical point of view. In her work The Essentials of a Good Education, the author focuses on the main tasks of the school.
She believes that educational establishments should bring up efficient and conscious citizens who can control their lives (Ravitch 109). Unlike John Taylor Gatto, she is sure that schooling is necessary for everyone. Having worked as a school teacher for about three decades, Gatto concluded that the public school system limits learners’ originality and prevents them from becoming outstanding individuals. Still, even though the schooling system has a range of drawbacks, it is significant in today’s society because it raises conscious citizens, socializes students, preparing them for adult life, and gives basic knowledge needed for identifying personal interests.
In her work, Diane Ravitch reveals the connection between the needs of a citizen and the school curriculum. She says that when learning history, children can get to know what people are capable of. They study economics and civics to be aware of their rights and responsibilities. Foreign languages provide an opportunity to cross the boundaries and understand other cultures. Finally, arts prepare students for joyful community activities that socialize them.
Professional states that “today, policymakers think of education solely in terms of secondary purposes” of schooling while the primary ones are focused on raising those citizens who are aware of their rights and responsibilities, can strengthen country’s economy and culture and can survive life’s vicissitudes (Ravitch 109). Still, Gatto does not agree with such a point of view. He claims that the USA schooling system does not achieve such goals, it “serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants” (Gatto 690).
The author believes that schools make education a boring routine that is meant to create a standardized citizen not capable of changing the world. He believes that it is the way to make society divided into classes; those who received public education serve those who were not affected by it and its limitations. Still, such a point of view is rather controversial. Even though schools tend to treat all children equally, they provide them with the basic knowledge and skills that allow them to live in the current society realizing what is happening in the world.
Public schools provide all children with the basic knowledge and skills that allow them to develop. Today, the main value of the population is information. People who control the flow of information receive an opportunity to determine what others will know, influencing their opinion and behavior. To obtain new data, one is to be able to perceive it. Thus, it is critical to know how to read and write. Such basic skills ensure that the individual can get the information, ask for it, and create it.
Of course, one can just talk to others or listen to them, but it will be more time-consuming, biased, and less trust-worthy. In this way, a school gives the power to survive in the current world. Surely, some may consider that skills of this kind can be easily obtained at home but if the family is poor or if both parents are working, children will have almost no opportunity to reach the level of their peers. The same can be said about those who live in an orphan asylum, or whose parents are immigrants without language knowledge. From this perspective, public schools are the main establishments that help children enter the community and start a stable life.
A school is rather helpful in the framework of socialization. In the USA, enormous attention nowadays is paid to people’s rights and responsibilities. To become decent citizens, individuals are expected to be self-dependent and know how to be a part of the community targeted at constant development and improvement. When attending school, children enter the community that is not known to them and learn how to operate within it with the help of educators and other professionals.
Of course, it is possible to interact in other systems, but school hierarchy is one of the closest to those we have in real life. Thus, realizing how to operate in it, students can successfully move forward. A similar idea is represented by Hu and McMahon, who claim that “every school is a place where children learn what adults in the community already know, a place for the transmission of knowledge” (123). Professionals consider that schools deal not only with the knowledge of particular subjects but also with the information that is needed for successful interaction with society. It prepares students for the life of adults, letting them know those things that will be necessary for efficient communication and allowing them not to get lost.
The knowledge gained in schools is also vital. Basic education is given for a child to obtain the amount of knowledge that can help one to interact with others and realize what he or she is willing to do in the future. The majority of parents consider that it is the main task of the school system, and they claim that children cannot reach anything if they do not attend school (Personal interview. 29 June 2016). As a result, many high school students also support such an idea.
However, they also realize that the knowledge obtained at school is not enough. One is to gather information from all available sources but not consider that the school system is to provide everything they need. For example, one college graduate claimed that the things he learned at school are not useful for him (Personal interview. 29 June 2016). However, being targeted at the general population, school education cannot include a lot of specific knowledge.
Students are expected to try studying various subjects to determine what appeals to them so that they enter college or university and continue investigating particular things. Without it, children would have no other opportunity but to follow the steps of their relatives and be occupied in those activities that are familiar to their parents. Only those who can afford private teachers would have a chance to change their occupation.
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Thus, it can be concluded that the public school system in the USA, and schools, in particular, are extremely important for the current society. Of course, people are free to disagree with such a claim and support Gatto’s idea, separating schools and education. Still, a positive effect of attending such establishments cannot be denied. It ensures that students will receive an opportunity to be treated equally regardless of their financial status.
They all obtain the same amount of information, which gives them similar future paths. Moreover, those who attend schools can learn how to communicate with other representatives of the community efficiently. They get to know the information needed for interaction and can have a practice. Finally, it should not be forgotten that schools allow children to try different activities and find out what they are willing to do in the future. As a result, it is much easier for them to choose a job that will satisfy them and be easy to handle.
Applied Research Center. Education in the US. 2006. Web.
Hu, Shouping, and McMahon, Walter. “Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private and Social Benefits of Higher Education.” Higher Education 60.1 (2010): 123-125.
Gatto, John. Against School. n.d. Web.
Ravitch, Diane. “The Essentials of a Good Education.” Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. Ed. Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. 105-112. Print.