More than ever, education is important. Education allows children to be exposed to different teaching philosophies. The emphasis of essentialism and perennialism is on standardization and the learning of material. This style of learning is authoritarian and disciplinarian. The study is acted upon and has no choice or preference in the material or the method by which they choose to learn it.
They are simply an object that either meets or fails to meet standards placed upon them by entities whom they have never met. The student that rebels and chooses not to learn are penalized by the inability to attain work and achieve a meaningful position in society. Education is compulsory in the United States and it is feared that some students might not see the benefits and would choose not to learn at all. However, this goes against human nature. Humans have a natural desire to learn about the world around them. The idea that a person would simply be satisfied with their current level of knowledge for the rest of their life is unlikely. The real question is whether they would choose to learn the required subjects.
In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace, America needs a workforce with the creativity and leadership ability to continuously evaluate positions and develop new products. An educational system that squelches creativity and relies on rote learning is not likely to produce this type of worker. Essentialist philosophy produces a worker that can do what they are told and follow directions given to them by another. It does not promote the ability to make one’s own decisions and to take responsibility for one’s actions. A school system that integrates student centered philosophies will produce free-thinkers with the knowledge that they can accomplish anything that they decide to do. Creativity will be necessary in maintaining the competitive edge in the global marketplace.
It is apparent that the school system must make some major structural changes in order to adapt to the needs of the changing business environment. However, it must do this without sacrificing quality in academics. This is where standardized testing could provide an important tool to make certain that minimal academic standards are met. However, it should not end with standardized test results. Students need to be able to develop all areas of themselves in order to become the best person possible. Standardized tests could still provide the basis for standardized education, but schools must find a way to consider the whole student.
It is apparent that the educational system needs to change and that it needs to move away from the authoritarian ideals that have prevailed for the past hundred years or more. It might not be possible to do away with the old regime entirely, especially not in the beginning, but we must find a way to integrate student centered philosophies into the system. The purpose of the educational system is to produce the types of workers that America needs to remain competitive. However, until some structural changes in the system are made, it is unlikely that the current system will be able to accomplish this goal. It is imperative that teacher centered philosophies are replaced with student centered initiatives. This is the only way to assure America’s place in a changing world.