The End of Education (with apologies to Neil Postman)
I have often thought about how some parents can be quite satisfied with the very same school that other parents are very dissatisfied with. To some extent, of course, it may reflect the different experiences their children had at the school as a result of their own personal characteristics and the teacher they drew. But another factor is undoubtedly the fact that different parents want and expect different things from their children's school.
If, for example, you are in the mood for comfort food - maybe meatloaf and mashed potatoes and rice pudding - and wander in to a fine dining fusion cuisine restaurant, you're probably not going to be very satisfied with your meal.
Like restaurants, schools are also specialized. In Ontario, the dominant specialization is the child-centred orientation. This specialization has as its primary goal the cultivation of children's creativity and higher-order thinking proficiency. And so, at least to the extent that Ontario schools succeed in achieving this goal, the parents who agree with this priority tend to be satisfied with their children's school.
However, there are lots of other possible goals. Here are a few.
- Integration of children from all walks of life, resulting in a cohesive society
- High academic achievement
- Babysitting for as many days and hours as possible
- Mental and physical fitness
- Cultivation of leadership ability
- Career preparation
- Development of global citizens
- Moral and spiritual guidance
Of course, none of these goals is mutually-exclusive, and it is possible for schools to work towards multiple goals. However, I am interested in schools' PRIMARY orientation.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify which goal you think schools should have as their priority. Piranhas, attack!