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Colorado State University

The Roads in Education Not Taken


Widely Debated Topics in Education

Mandi Marcantonio
EDUC 275-002
Professor Pat Woodward
December 12, 2013
In comparison to my first draft of this paper, I have grown as a future educator. I have a
better understanding of what it actually means to be an educator, and I will have some significant
leaps and bounds to endure, but its something I want more than anything in the world. The purposes
of education have changed drastically for me; it is more than, to educate youth in various subjects,
and prepare them to be contributing members of society. It is about giving students every tool they
will need to grow and prosper in life in spite of the challenges they face. Those purposes can be
achieved through an indefinite amount of ways, through multicultural reform, gender and sex
equality, curriculum reform, and above all recognizing that every student is an individual. I now
know that my role in fulfilling these purposes is greater that just being a dedicated teacher and
being an expert in that subject to make sure every student walks out of my class having learned
something. My role, simply put is to make sure every student obtains a quality education, with the
highest standard at whatever cost it is to me. Im prepared to take on that role

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School an institution for educating children. Amongst average individual, the word
school can have a plethora of meanings. To some it may be a place where they met their best
friend, played their favorite sport, read their first book, or even a place where they discovered a
hidden talent, to others it is a place of sanction, of authority, or even a place they despise. In the
United States today, almost every person has a basic understanding about what school is and the
overall theory of school, but what is the purpose of school? What is going to be my role as a
teacher in fulfilling that purpose? How does or can schooling continue or transform the cultural,
political, social, economical and social order that is present in every classroom? The answers to
these questions will be explored through many different theories and perspectives by reputable
sources.
While most of us have attended school at some point in our lives, do we educated people
truly know what the purpose of school is, what it was, and what it should be? Over the years
there have been a number of people who have contributed to this which has shaped the education
system into what it is today. Take Thomas Jefferson for instance. He believed a school system
should promote democracy and that a state system of schools would provide three years of free
education to white, non-slave, youth, (Hueta, 9). Anyone who sought out more would have to
come up with the means themselves and females were only permitted to attend the three years.
The idea of public education was on the rise, but it would take someone by the name of Horace
Mann to institutionalize common schools. Common schools also known as public schools
would be funded with local taxes; and all students were welcome! Mann believed that, all
children had the right to an education as well because equal opportunity for all was a critical part
of democracy, and fairness, (Huerta, 11). Unlike Jefferson, Mann supported a curriculum that
consisted of the core subjects as well as art, health, music and geography and also believed

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schools should instill moral values in their students, but did not support any religious material.
These schools were designed similarly to everything else during the industrial revolution:
efficient, compartmentalized and designed to churn out identical products.
For the most part, the public education system has kept the essential framework of
Manns ideologies and beliefs, but does the purpose of schooling and education still remain the
same? Even today people still have different views and opinions about what they feel the
purpose of education is. According to anthropologists, education is a process designed to
transmit cultural traits to future generations, (Huerta, 224). It also can be used today to
promote tolerance and understanding of diversity and to make us aware of the mistakes of the
past so they can be avoided in the future, (Huerta, 11). Much of the purpose of education today
is to break down the cultural barrier. Classrooms are becoming more diverse and it is important
to try and bridge those cultural differences as it helps children assimilate. Dr. James A. Banks
believes, the purpose of schooling has been and continues to promote the values that society has
deemed important, (Banks, 226). My interviewee, a former student of Saudi Arabia and of the
U.S., Ahmed Sager believes that the primary purposes of schools are, to educate people, prepare
them for the working world and increase intelligence and to gain more knowledge. Unlike the
former intentions of school, these ideas are centered around not only educating students, but
bettering all students so they have the means to function in society regardless of their goals.
There are also those who have high aspirations for the future of education. Dr. John P.
Miller developed and believes that a Holistic curriculum is forthcoming for education. The
purpose of an education is to prepare students for the future, and a holistic approach will prepare
them in a well-rounded manner. By using holistic techniques in the classroom, connections
between subjects like linear thinking and intuition can be reestablished by showing their relation

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to one another. In this way, individuals can achieve a deeper sense of self and connection to the
things around them, (Miller, 10). By creating the balance for a holistic education, a school can
prepare students to maintain or transform current orders by allowing them to make informed
decisions and take the appropriate actions. It does seem like there are imbalances in schools.
Often music and art classes/ programs are shrinking and more emphasis is being put of critical
thinking and math skills. This is just one example of an increasing imbalance, and establishing
balance for a holistic education could be essential for the future of education.
After learning about the many purposes of school, there are many roles I will play as a
teacher in fulfilling those purposes. One of my roles according to the Dalai Lama is to teach
students to be warmhearted and have compassion. As teacher we must first and foremost teach
by example when it comes to compassion and warmth of heart the proof is in the pudding.
Though we cannot force others to become warmhearted, we can teach them, and help them
discover the value of being warmhearted for themselves. The classroom will be a better place
where trust and respect for the individual and their ideas flourish. Huerta stresses the importance
of educators to be cognizant of how students learning styles are influenced by the different
aspects of their diverse cultures and subcultures. Educators must keep in mind that culture is in
the heart of every persons identity, and taking that into consideration in the classroom is
absolutely necessary. It is also imperative to foster a culture of understanding in a classroom,
which may require a teacher being more educated about diverse cultures (often outside of their
comfort zones), confront their own biases, and evaluate life from multiple perspectives. It is a
necessary prerequisite for a successful classroom, if all students engaged and enthusiastic, and as
such it is at the heart of the purpose of schooling. Banks interposes that not only is it important
for educators to be aware of students learning styles, but it is also important to be conscious of
the curriculum being taught. The past curriculum focuses largely on the experiences of

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American culture and ignores the experiences, cultures and histories of other ethnic groups,
which is considered a mainstream-centric curriculum. This type of curriculum has, negative
consequences for mainstream students because it reinforces their false sense of superiority, gives
then a misleading conception of their relationship with other racial and ethnic groups, and denies
them the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge, perspectives and frames of reference that
can be gained from studying and experiencing other cultures and groups, (Banks, 230). There is
also a population of students whose families are faced with poverty and social class issues.
According to Eric Jensen author of How Poverty Affects Behavior and Academic Performance,
risk factors affecting children raised in poverty include, emotional and social challenges, acute
and chronic stressors, cognitive lags, health and safety issues, (Jensen, 2). The roles we play as
teachers can be impactful to any student we come interact with, and we have to take in
consideration all of the things a child might be faced with, and treat each and every student like
an individual. Our job is not easy, but we have a lot of lives that depend on it.
As if this profession wasnt already convoluted enough, but how does schooling continue
the existing order when it comes to culture, politics, social, economic and environmental orders?
In simple terms, these issues impact students lives, so how do schools meet the needs of students
on the traditional classroom level as well as outside of the classroom? We begin to look at things
such as multicultural curriculum reform, the way we view gender and sex, sexual identity,
teaching English language learners, and poverty. One way Banks is trying to help is by offering
approaches to multicultural curriculum reform. Banks believes that a mainstream-centric
curriculum creates a false sense of superiority in students and false relationships between
students of various races, and inhibits students gain of knowledge and frame of reference that
comes with different cultures. This type of curriculum disregards the cultures of students of

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colors and does not reflect their dreams, hopes and perspectives, (Banks, 232). Efforts have
been made since the Civil Rights movement to integrate more ethnically diverse content into
school curriculum. However efforts have been hampered by a number of reasons including the
strong assimilationist ideology, lack of teacher knowledge on ethnic groups, and a heavy reliance
of teacher on textbooks. The lack of knowledge of ethnic groups on the teachers part prevents a
teacher from having a competent understanding of a culture and the impact that culture may have
had on Americas history. While this would be difficult for most teachers, textbooks are still the
best option. Studies have shown that textbooks are still a good source for incorporating
multicultural perspectives into the curriculum because most ethnic groups and women appear in
textbooks. Even though studies have shown textbooks to still be applicable, they are typically
presented from mainstream perspectives, which means teachers, need to acquire more content
knowledge about ethnic groups in order to use new textbooks more effectively. Culture is within
all of us, and by bringing it into schools and classrooms; we are allowing students to prosper at a
new level.
Spade and Valentine bring forth an issue many of us are not conscious of; the western
beliefs about gender and sex and how most people grow up learning there are only two sexes, but
that is not the case anymore. They explain that in general we typically categorize people by sex
effortlessly, and we perceive humankind as divided into exclusive groups:
males/masculine/males and females/ feminine/women. When teachers identify students by a
specific gender, they are assuming that student identifies with that sex, but that may not be the
case. By distinguishing gender one is taught who they are, how to behave and what their roles
will be, (Spade, 3). It is important that our students feel comfortable exploring who they really
are, even in sex and gender. This issue leads into topic of sexual identity and the problems faced

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by LGBTQ students. Discrimination is still present in schools. Schools violate civil right laws
by just allowing things to happen or not addressing certain issues. These issues include dress
code, bullying as a broad term, acceptance of LGBTQ students, and other students who are
culturally different from the norm. According to authors Paula Ressler and Becca Chase
86.2% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual
orientation, 22.1% reported being physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation, and
more than half reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, (Ressler,
17). Robert McGarry even reported that students find there is little to no representation of
LGBTQ in the curriculum. Fewer than 20% of students reported being exposed to positive
images of LGBTQ people in classrooms. Eight states have laws banning such additions to the
curriculum at all,(McGarry, 29). As teachers we need to approach this issue head on and lower
those percentages, because no child, regardless of sexual orientation should feel unsafe at school.
With the increase of culture and diversity in classrooms, more and more schools have
ELL or English Language Learners. It wasnt until 2001 when the New York City Board of
Education revised its policy for ELLs to focus more intensely on learning English. It requires
all ELLs not enrolled in dual-language programs to develop English proficiency in three years
and exit their bilingual and English as a second language (ESL) program, (Huerta, 245). While
this policy was a step in the right direction for ELL students, policymakers implemented this
policy ignoring the research that had been done that showed it takes five to seven years to
develop Cognitive Academic Linguistic Proficiency. As educators in order to fully understand
the barriers of ELL students, we need to understand the privileges we have speaking the English
language. We are privileged to know that we dont have to worry about covering up an accent in
specific settings that might work against you, we understand what our teachers are saying even if

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we dont understand the subject that well, and when we take standardized tests we take them in
our strong language and can feel fairly confident our scores will reflect that. We need to stand up
for ELL programs and try to lessen the expectations of these students.
Journalist Myungkook Joo reported that, in the U.S. poverty affects around 18%, (12.9
million) of all children lived in poverty in 2007, and although children comprised about 25% of
the U.S. population, they accounted for more than 35% of all poor persons, (Joo, 807).
According to Eric Jensen, this in turn has an effect on school behavior and performance.
Students need strong, secure relationships to help stabilize children's behavior and provide the
core guidance needed to build lifelong social skills. Strong, secure relationships help stabilize
children's behavior and provide the core guidance needed to build lifelong social skills. But
children raised in poor households often fail to learn these responses, to the detriment of their
school performance, (Jensen, 10). For example, students with emotional deregulation may get
so easily frustrated that they give up on a task when success was just moments away. Social
dysfunction may inhibit students' ability to work well in cooperative groups, quite possibly
leading to their exclusion by group members who believe they aren't "doing their part or
"pulling their share of the load. This exclusion and the accompanying decrease in collaboration
and exchange of information exacerbate at-risk students' already shaky academic performance
and behavior. Some teachers may interpret students' emotional and social deficits as a lack of
respect or manners. These troubles are just some of the things your students could be carrying
around with them, and our job is to try and ease those burdens the best you can for the time you
have them.
So, how can schooling transform the existing order of these issues? Banks suggests the
use of a multicultural curriculum reform would allow more students to flourish since students

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learn best when what they are learning reflects their culture, experiences and perspectives. He
offers fourteen guidelines for teaching and integrating multicultural content. The teacher is the
most important variable because they have knowledge about ethnic groups that is needed to teach
ethnic content effectively. Teachers must be sensitive to their own racial attitudes, behavior, and
statements they make about ethnic groups in the classroom, which should convey positive
images of various ethnic groups. Be judicious of the choice of materials you use to teach with,
and use trade books, films, and recordings to supplement the textbook treatment of ethnic groups
and to present the perspectives of ethnic groups to your students. Teachers should get in touch
with their won cultural and ethnic heritage and be sensitive to the possible controversial nature of
some ethnic studies materials. Educators also need to be sensitive to the developmental levels of
the students when selecting concepts, content, and activities related to ethnic groups and teachers
should view their students as color winners. Gain support from parents and use cooperative
learning techniques and group work to promote racial and ethnic integration in the school and
classroom, and make sure extracurricular activities/groups are racially integrated, (Banks, 240).
By inserting a variety of culture into the curriculum, students will still be educated about the
events of the pass, but will gain a better understanding about the roles their ancestors played, and
more sensitive to other cultures.
When it comes to changing the way we view sex and gender Spade and Valentine propose
that as teachers we can continue to transform the western beliefs on gender, to truly make it
blended and seamless. We need to teach students just because somebody is different does not
mean they should be treated any differently. We should try and use inclusive language, and
create safe environments for every student to feel they will not be judged, ridiculed, or
discriminated against, and that starts in the classroom, (Spade, 5). There are also things we can

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do to promote sexual identity and help students of the LGBTQ community. Ressler and Chase
offer simple solutions such as documenting and reporting incidents of bullying through the
school, and promote Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, and work to build a curriculum that includes
everyone.
Huerta provides many ways teachers can insure ELLs success too. The overall goal for
teachers is to get children acquiring language by giving students meaningful messages, because
if students dont understand what their teachers are telling or showing them, they will not acquire
language. One way to help students achieve is to assist them in learning the dominant language
and culture of schooling (English), while maintaining their own native languages and cultures.
What should be taught to English language learners must be specifically adapted and be
presented in a way that is meaningful and responds to the cultures of ELLs. There are a few
guidelines that can help teachers build on student strengths when they design curricula and teach.
Teachers can, listen to student talk about familiar topics such as home and community;
encourage students to use content vocabulary to express their understanding; provide frequent
opportunity for students to interact with each other and the teacher during instructional activities;
and encourage students use of first and second languages in instructional activities, etc.
While teachers may not be able to get kids out of poverty, they can certainly help ease
their academic stresses. Kati Haycock enlightens us on this: standards are key, high-poverty
schools give students low level assignments resulting in students not being challenged and
getting bored, so keep standards the same. This leads us to the concept that all students must
have a challenging curriculum; patterns showed high school students who take more rigorous
coursework learn more and perform better on tests, (Haycock, 7). Haycock leaves us with some
tips for in the classroom, create environment where poor students do not have to be identified,

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make sure students have access to resources needed for assignments, keep the expectations the
same for all students, and reject the deficit-view and youll likely be happier. Teachers also
need to take time for themselves outside of school; your students burdens cannot get you down
because you may be the only thing that student has, and you cannot effectively help them if you
are falling apart. If a student living in poverty is not challenged and they are already looking for
a reason to drop out, chances are they will. As educators we need to do everything in our power
to keep kids in school and give them an adequate education regardless of their class situation.
When I decided to become a teacher, I knew it would not be an easy profession. I knew it
would be a job that consumed me 24/7, but I want to make a difference. I want to see kids
succeed at the highest level they can regardless of their race, their culture, their economic status,
their disabilities and their gender. I have a dream that one day every state in America will put
their youths education first! I want to be apart of the success in childrens lives, and I want to be
apart of changing the future of this country. Despite anything I have learned from this class, I
take with me a stronger passion for this career choice than when I walked through that door.

Works Cited

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Banks, James A., and Cherry A. McGee. Banks. "Chapter 10: Approaches to Multicultural Curriculum Reform."
Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007. 225-44. Print.
The Dalai Lama, Bell Hooks, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, The Heart of Learning, Spirituality in
Education. Editied by Steven Glazer. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc. 1999. Print.
Haycock, Kati. "Helping All Students Achieve: Closing the Achievement Gap." Educational Leadership 58.6
(2001): 6-11.
Huerta, Grace. Educational Foundations: Diverse Histories, Diverse Perspectives. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
2009. Print.
Jensen, Eric. "How Poverty Affects Behavior and Academic Performance." Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What
Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do About It. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2009. N.
pag. Print.
Joo, Myungkook. "Long-Term Effects of Head Start on Academic and School Outcomes of Children in Persistent
Poverty: Girls vs. Boys." Children and Youth Services Review 32.6 (2010): 807-14. Print.
Lantieri, Linda, and Janet Patti. Waging Peach in Our Schools. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. Print.
McGarry,Robert. Build a Curriculum That Includes Everyone. Phi Delta Kappan 94.5 (2013):29-31. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2013
Miller, John P. "Holistic Curriculum: The Why and the What." The Holistic Curriculum. Toronto: OISE, 2007. 114. Print
Ressler, Paula and Becca Chase. EJ in Focus: Sexual Identity and Gender Variance: Meeting the Eucational
Challenges. The English Journal Mar. 2009: 15-22. JSTOR. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.
Spade and Valentine. The Kaleidoscope of Gender Prisms, Patterns, and Possibilities. Pine Forge Press, 2008.