META reflection

During the course of this class many ideas have been brought to my attention that I hadn’t previously considered. I have only recently graduated from my teacher training program in Angelo State University, therefore, much of the theories and contemporary concepts are still fresh in my mind. However, my previous college experience made no mention of where many of the education ideas that we now study originated.

I was very intrigued when listening to Dr. Ellis’s Emergence of Eastern Education Thought lecture as they ideas that formed in Eastern Europe throughout the years is vastly different from what happens today in American public schools. Individualism was downplayed and education focused on achieving harmony with nature and discovering one’s own place within the larger picture, materialism was discouraged and family structures were emphasized and respected. The most fascinating educator mention during this podcast was Gandhi. Gandhi was known for his revolutions against colonialism, racism, and violence but above all Gandhi was an educator. He was very adamant that education be a spiritual journey as well as one that one filled with the discovery of knowledge. He proposed that instead of a school being a place where a scholar goes to get away from it all, it should be where he goes to be a part of it all. This is something that has not been embraced in American classrooms. I believe that if we were to take on Gandhi’s ideas of developing a sense of civic pride in students by making the classroom an integral part of the community students might take education more seriously. As it is today, there is not much connection for young students between what they learn within the walls of the classroom and what will happen when they finally step beyond those walls to join the real world.

Besides the embracing of Eastern educational ideas I have begun to embrace a more constructivist form of teaching. I have learned that it is more beneficial to the student to allow them to seek out knowledge rather than to present it to them. As a teacher I will make it my duty to create learning opportunities for my students and to guide them through the learning process, rather than tell them what they should be learning. Reflection is key in this constructivist approach to learning. Luckily, one thing this course was not short on was reflection.  I have been able to reflect on my own educational journey each week through different methods as well as to learn about many new ones to put to use in my classroom.

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Must all children go to school?

The article “Must all children go to school?” chronicles the history of compulsory education in America. Beginning in the 1920’s in Oregon there has been a string of court cases debating compulsory public education. The first drafts of these laws required that every child between the ages of 8 and 16 attend a public school, later this law would be amended to require all children of the appropriate age to attend a public school or equivalent educational institution. The only amendment to these laws is made for the Amish. After an Amish child passes 8th grade they are no longer required to attend school as this conflicts with the religious beliefs of the Amish. No other religious organization, parent, or group has been awarded this same exemption; all other children must attend school.

 Private schools and homeschooling are two alternatives to public education about which there has been much discussion, more specifically concerning homeschooling. Each state has different requirements concerning schooling students at home. Some states require that homeschooling be taught by a qualified teacher or a parent who has undergone teacher training and many other states require that homeschoolers are monitored by the school districts in which they reside. There have also been questions raised about homeschooled students’ eligibility to participate in sports and enroll in certain academic classes at a public school.

Parents with students attending a school with no religious affiliation are allowed a certain amount of voice concerning the curriculum taught within a school. A parent is allowed to request a student be exempted from any part of the curriculum that they object to because of any religious reason. Also, parents may request that a student be exempted from any part of the curriculum that is not “essential for citizenship”.

There are still bugs to be worked out in compulsory public education in America. If we require every parent to send their children to school, we must find ways to satisfy their desires for their children’s’ education. Debates about homeschoolers in public schools and the curriculum that is used is always are always hot topics and are currently being dealt with at state levels.