In my experience, the overall purpose of schooling is to get an education and prepare students for the future of either further education and/or life. In the past, attending college was not an option for most lower and middle class people. Rather, it was reserved for higher class, male, elites. Therefore, the purpose of schooling was directed towards getting a strong enough education to have a job straight after completing their GED. Due to advancements in technology and new job opportunities, the purpose of schooling in recent years has changed drastically. Students have more options when they graduate from high school. Despite the high cost of school, attending college is an option available to most students. Furthermore, the freedom of students to study what they are passionate about is much more prevalent to in the past. Alternatively, the option to not go to college is also an acceptable choice. Students today have much more freedom and flexibility when it comes to their education and that freedom is reflected in the early education system. Elementary, middle and high schools encourage students to explore their options, broaden their horizons and be open-minded about the future. In addition, people live longer today than fifty years ago and as such retirement ages are starting later. In this sense, young people have longer careers and therefor more time to make decisions about their futures and more options to change those decisions if they so wish.
I graduated from an International Baccalaureate high school and it was a difficult experience filled with strict deadlines and rigorous course work. However, two months into college at CSU I was thankful for the rigidity of my high school because it more than prepared me for my new coursework. In comparison to my fellow pupils, I feel more than ready for the next four years. For many of them, this transition from different schooling areas is a greater challenge. The nature of my high school instilled a sense of independence and responsibility in its students to carry out their work without being too reliant on teachers who would “cushion the path” to graduation. These tools have proven to be extremely useful in college and I wonder how it would be to enter university without this knowledge and sense of preparedness? My experience has led me to believe that, no matter how difficult and stressful the International Baccalaureate method of education has proven to be, it is more beneficial in the long run than my understanding of American primary education.
That is not to say that the American system does not have its benefits. One disadvantage of the International Baccalaureate system is that it is very narrow and does not encourage a sense of well-roundedness in its students. The focus was competitively academic and so most of the students time was spent studying. The American system, however, encourages its students to immerse themselves in many different activities and areas of interest. One reason for this may be that American colleges primarily look for students who embody a sense of well-roundedness. Conversely, the international baccalaureate system, at least its overseas programs, often target their students to European colleges, which value the total number of “points” a student has earned, over their extra-curricular activities.
Having been exposed to both systems of education, it is difficult for me to say which of the two is better. As has been outlined above, both have their significant advantages and disadvantages. As for the future of schooling in the United States, I believe that a synthesis of these two systems would prove to be extremely beneficial to young students. A combination of the strict learning environment of the International Baccalaureate with the emphasis on extra-curricular interests would help students not only to prepare for the laborious demands of college, but also to expand their horizons and provide a sense of balance in their lives. Therefore, the purpose of schooling in the United States, in my opinion, should be to adequately prepare students for college and help them to discover their personal interests as it relates to their futures.
As a future teacher in this system, this purpose plays a significant role in my approach to teaching. My hope is to become a drama teacher, a vision that I see as being central to the development of this purpose. Education systems today place much more emphasis on the acquisition of “hard” science, math, and language skills than they do on the arts. Bordering subjects, such as Geography, philosophy, psychology, and art, for example, take a side note to these other subjects. Of course, science, math and language are extremely important subjects that all students need to have a firm grasp on, but that is not to say that they are more important than the other subjects. My aspiration in this field is to bring a balance to the spectrum of subjects, and to assure students that an interest in drama (or any other “outside” subjects) is just acceptable as an interest in math. As mentioned previously, the nature of the “after-high school” life is far more flexible and open-ended. The prevalence of the internet, for example, gives individuals great freedom to pursue their dreams successfully. Also, the ease with which people can travel today further allows for freedom in career choices. Ultimately, I hope that my vision and my actions can lead to the advancement of learning and interpersonal harmony through a balance of all aspects of a student’s educational career.
The most important way that schooling contributes and can transform the existing world order is through the development of students’ tolerance, acceptance, and thirst for knowledge. The transformation of the current world order depends on its youth. Furthermore, so much of students’ perception of the world is instilled upon them through schooling. Thus, it is crucial to provide students with extensive knowledge and understanding of the world they live in. Only once they have achieved this, can they truly hope to impact the world in a positive way. Not only is it important for students to develop tools for tolerance and understanding, it is especially critical that they leave high school with a desire to continue learning. The world is always changing, and as such, so is the existing order. If students do not feel the need to continue learning, this will impact the world order in a negative way. The more we learn, the more we know, and the more we know, the more we want to learn. This is why it is very important for educators, and the education system in general, to learn the tools needed to provide students with this kind of deeper knowledge and understanding.
This train of thought ties in to my defined purpose in my educational career of valuing all aspects of students’ interests and goals. Only when students feel that they are in an environment which supports and promotes their individual pursuits, no matter what they may be, will they be open and receptive to messages about the world around them and how to live in it. Educators around the country need to be more in sync in their actions and goals, as their joint objective is (or should be) to collectively encourage a generation of open-minded, free-thinking, and globally aware young adults. Through this type of action, it is feasible that the current education system can be molded and shaped to its full potential, ensuring students a boundless and invigorating learning experience, and an even better future- not only for the student themselves, but for the world as a whole.