Understanding the Purpose of American Public Education
American public education has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past several hundred years. This transformation not only includes technology and appearance, but diversity and policies as well. However, an age-old question is still being pondered today. What is the purpose of American public education? Although you may have your own answer for this question; not everyone may agree with you. This is where the problem resides. How can one purpose be suitable for everybody? The point of this paper is to informatively examine and explain the purpose of American public education through different perspectives.
One noteworthy viewpoint is that the purpose of public education should be to uphold and protect the stability of democracy. Diane Ravitch, an educational historian, clearly explains this idea in her article titled “Education and Democracy: The United States of America as a Historical Case Study.” Ravitch expresses that public education is the key to the lock that represents democracy, and that schools must educate children to protect its existence. In fact, Ravitch states that “the best protection for a democratic society remains well-educated citizens” (2008, p. 56). The purpose for public education to sustain democracy is definitely not a new idea, nor was it introduced by Ravitch. In reality, many influential people such as Thomas Jefferson and Noah Webster believed that education played a major role in a democracy. This is because a democracy is a type of government that relies heavily on its citizens, and so it’s very important that these citizens are educated and ready to handle any contribution for the progression of the state. This type of perspective is generally focused on the big picture, and how education can effectively progress American society toward a common goal. Although only three people are mentioned here, their influence and opinions are still present because their beliefs reach the public through the media and other forms of communication. Therefore, the purpose of education to influence democratic qualities and lifestyles is a common perspective that is most likely widespread throughout society.
Another way to approach education and its purpose would be to examine the relationship among schools and their responsibility for their students. While the previous paragraph was about the contribution to society as a whole, this one is about the personal effect that schools should have on their students. What should be the focus for public schooling, and how does that have purpose? This is an important question, and it sounds awfully familiar. A common conception of public schooling is that it’s a place to formally educate and prepare children for college and careers that will determine their lifestyle and place in society. However, most people forget to consider that the most important thing in life is to just be happy. Harry Brighouse, an author and...