The cure-all for life or Public School Utopia
When we were talking in class tonight, I kept thinking about something I'd read in the last couple of weeks. However, as I mentioned here previously, all of the reading I'm doing seems to be running together and I can't ever remember where I read something, or which brilliant person said it (all of the authors of these works would cringe knowing grad students are getting them all confused... surely it's not the fame they wished for...). Anyway, I decided that it was from Pinar's What is Curriculum Theory? book, and found what I was thinking about.
I had listened to the first part of the Oprah show Tiffany mentioned in class on my way to class Tuesday afternoon. I too, was glad that education was being mentioned, and at least the show did talk to and use the work of Jonathan Kozol, citing his new book Shame of the Nation. Otherwise, I felt like it was another strike by business and the media on public education.
So, in his book, Pinar has an affinity for the historian Christopher Lasch, and quotes his work quite a bit throughout the chapters. In the final chapter, titled "Education of the American Public," Pinar writes about how we as educators, must begin to work to turn the tide, claim our positions as intellectuals in society, and initiate true reform based on social equity rather than flawed business approaches. In this chapter, he uses some quotes from Lasch on page 255:
"Schooling is not a cure-all for everything that ails us."
"If there is one lesson that we might have been expected to learn in the 150 years since Horace Mann took charge of the schools in Massachusetts, it is that schools can't save society."
What is the role of the school and what is the role of the teacher? Are teachers caretakers, instructors, guides, social workers, stand-in parents, or professional intellectuals? Can they really be all of these at once? Can schools survive increasing requirements and regulations to manage both children and phenomenon which are often beyond their reach and outside their control? And why do politicians, the business world, the media, and popular opinion in the public realm continue to believe that schools can fix everything? Why do they think that schooling can save society? Why is such a powerful and critical burden placed in the hands of people who are paid and respected so little?
Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.