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Sustaining Our Culture and the Goals of Education Chapter 3 Sustainability • Sustainability is a fundamental concept in ecology • Sustainability can be applied to culture…and to an educational system • A major obligation of schools: the creation of a just and sustainable culture and living in a balanced and sensible way…to take full advantage of the human resources available Goals of U. S. Education • Education is the “deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke, or acquire knowledge, attitudes, values, skills or sensibilities, as well as any outcomes of that effort”…Cremin • Jefferson, Rockfish Gap Report, to provide each citizen with the means by which he can transact his own business, can calculate for himself, preserve his dealings in writing, improve through reading one’s morals, understand one’s duties, understand one’s rights, understand social relationships Goals of U.S. Education • More often for males than females, more often for whites than people of color • Assumption has been that education is a universally positive experience and that it serves all people equally well…and that America has created a Meritocracy. Meritocracy • All individuals are given the opportunity to compete fairly and equally • Assumes that those at the lower end of the social and economic scale are there because of lack of intelligence, drive, and ability to succeed in the general culture • The Bell Curve has argued that biological factors rather than race, gender or geography are why people succeed or don’t in America (Herrnstein and Murray) The Great School Legend • Argues that the public schools have functioned as the great equalizing force in U.S. culture • Instead of helping the poor and minorities advance within society, says Greer, schools have actually held people back • Power Blocs…have given a different education for different purposes Counternarratives • Stories or cultural patterns of belief out of the mainstream and opposing traditional values and interpretations • Postcolonial themes…have emerged in opposition to models of colonial power and control • “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” European occupation of Native North American territory and the subjugation of its people What teachers need to do • Understand the context in which the schools they teach function • Understand the cultural background of their students • The ways in which their families and communities understand and organize knowledge • The foundation necessary to be “border crossers” • To be effective differs from setting to setting, community to community Dare the School Build a New Social Order? • “We should…give to our children a vision of the possibilities which lie ahead and endeavor to enlist their loyalties and enthusiasms in the realization of the vision. Also, our social institutions and practices…should be critically examined in the light of such a vision.” George S. Counts (1932) Critical Questions About the Nature and Purpose of Schooling • What is taught? Should schools be agents of change or the status quo? Who is to be educated? What makes a good school? • Who should control the schools? Should schools have a role for past social injustices? Should schools teach what the family has taught in the past? How is the media taking the place of the family? Critical Questions • What is useful knowledge? How does race affect what happens in schools? What about gender? Social class? • Should schools provide social services? • Should there be national standards and guidelines for the curriculum of the schools? • Should teachers be nationally licensed and certified?