The fact that the future of every nation depends on the quality of education that young generations receive is simply undeniable. Numerous philosophers, teachers, and ordinary citizens have been hotly disputing the issue about the perfect education for many centuries. Plato, Kant, Hegel, Rousseau, Foucault, Holt, Montessori, and many other brilliant thinkers developed their own ideas about the best way of bringing up children and teenagers. The growth of world industry and economics and the rapid development of information technologies generate new demands to the society, and, as a result, to the educational process. Searching the wise solution of challenges, the “humanity is at stake”. Developing the theme about the most pertinent educational issues, this study explores the main approaches of Walter Feinberg, Jonas Soltis, and Nadim Bakhsov concerning choices of the best principles in teaching and training young generations. The goal of the paper is to regard the diverse capitalism and socialist approaches to education, analyze urgent challenges facing the contemporary society in the educational field, and describe the personal viewpoint on the ideal education and relationship between school and community. The essay is also focused on the role of a teacher in the educational process and social and cultural values.
The Diverse Approaches to the Educational Process
To understand the goals of education, its current challenges, and the ways of creating effective relationships between school and the community, the theoretical background has to be explored.
Main Theories of Education
Functionalism and the conflict theory reflect various and often quite contradicting ways of seeing the social phenomenon of relationships between education and the human society.These theories confirm the idea that political and economic factors introduce their demands and criteria towards public education and desired skills, which members of the community are to possess. Stratification and regimentation in the workforce are the aims that dictate their requirements to training young generations.
Functionalism focuses on the crucial role of the education system in the desired preparation of young generations to the current economic and political situation in the world. This approach ignores any expressions of individuality, imposing strict rules and demands on every member of the society. Regarding its citizens as the obedient workforce, the government appears to be the controlling tool that compels every person to behave in a certain way. Creativity and alternative approaches to the suggested tasks are forbidden.
Functionalism regards the human society as the complex biological system, where each social institution and education system, in particular, performs a certain function. This approach supports universal compulsory public education. Compulsory education is beneficial for the society because such an approach encourages cultivating new skills required by the rapid technical progress. Adherents of functionalism regard “schools as serving to socialize students to adapt to the economic, political, and social institutions of that society”. The community places its order for the certain workforce. All of the students study the same traditional disciplines, adopting the favorable ones for the state norms and practices of conduct.
Functionalists introduce four key norms for implementation, such as independence, achievement, universalism, and specificity.
Independence suggests cultivating in children the responsibility for their own deeds and consequences. Punishment following the prescribed norms is inevitable. Students realize the inadmissibility of cheating and plagiarism in their researches.
Functionalists regard the universal nature of education as the key characteristic of a training process. During many centuries, young generations adopted new skills, watching their parents or other representatives of the human community. The development of industrial society suggesting that most of the work was done by adult individuals, depriving children and teenagers of opportunities to gain new competence. Therefore, schools accepted the social function in the training process that became universal.
In functionalism, the specificity provides privileges to wise exceptions that universalism rejects. For example, a teacher may excuse the absence of one of his students in a class because of his participation in some sports competition. The educator considers all of the circumstances and reasons of violating habitual norms and decides on the way of behavior, minding his opinion.
The adherents of functionalism introduced the theory of different norms, where they demonstrated the advantages of universalism. Based on the above-mentioned approach, all people are equal and enjoy identical rights, regardless of their individual characteristics, such as race, sex, religion, position in the society, and inborn abilities or professional skills. All members of the community should be able to enjoy the same chances and freedoms in building their career, functioning in the society, and distributing national profits. Universalism promotes the same rules to any member of the community and his or her actions. According to this principle, there is no room for exceptions. Despite numerous advantages of such an approach, I do not consider it to be beneficial in a complete way. To illustrate, in case of late assignment, the norms of universalism demand an inevitable punishment, regardless of what were the causes. However, reasons can be different, starting from the typical laziness and finishing with the bad health of the student. Therefore, universalism is to be accepted in the education system with certain remarks.
According to the conflict theory of education, learning institutions serve the interests of high levels of human community, contributing to their dominance and keeping the social order. Two classes of workers and capitalists oppose each other. Excessive consumption is the engine moving owners to greater wealth.
The Diversity of Capitalism and Socialist Approaches to Educational Process
Different approaches to education can be explained by the demands dictated by the two opposing theories, such as capitalism and socialism. Capitalism has existed for several centuries, making a very strong influence on the education system in many countries. The educational platform of socialism was introduced in the Soviet Union and several countries supporting this approach.
Drawing attention to the negative aspects of capitalism’s education resources, one of Bakhsov’s heroes argues that “the education system is being crushed… by the demands of capitalism and, in turn, it’s crushing those who pass through it, reducing them, diminishing them”.Moreover, the capitalism’s educational “system is being corrupted from within”. I cannot fully agree with this idea. Despite certain drawbacks, the current system proved its viability, sustaining the intense competition. I admit that capitalism may initiate various undesired things in the educational field, such as corruption, putting all individuals in the restricted conditions and rejecting any creativity, as well as drawing strict borders between learning disciplines. The differentiated approach to getting education causes inequality in social opportunities, violating numerous rights and freedoms. However, the contemporary education fulfils the task broader than satisfying the demands of capitalist market in training individuals to be effective workers. Nowadays, educators highlight that boys and girls are to become broad-minded personalities, launching numerous creative educational projects into life. Teachers help young personalities to unlock their potential in order to be successful. Exact sciences, like maths and physics, contribute to the development of analytical thinking. Humanitarian disciplines, like art, philosophy, and literature are paid due to attention to enhance imagination and emotional world. The current capitalist educational system strives for the key goal of education that is not only alignment on the demands of the job market. The human personality and the wise balance of the personal and professional skills are in focus.
Capitalism opponents support the socialist approach to the education process. In fact, it is an alternative education model that “runs counter to capitalism. One that is wired to the social, political, and economic realities of our global world in a radically different way”. On the one hand, I agree that, theoretically, this model is not imaginative and quite weak, like in Moore’s Utopia, but it corresponds to the ideals of Plato’s Republic.I admire the idea that representatives of all the social levels are to have an equal access to education. Taking into account the fact that a professional outlook and the broadminded position suggests advantages in building a career and getting the decent status in the community, the lowest social levels need special attention and governmental support. Due to various reasons, talented children from poor and socially neglected families face numerous obstacles in getting the proper education. The state bears obligations to help such vulnerable categories, granting them financial and special privileges. However, the high degree of education plays a negative role in the development of workforce market. To illustrate the general picture, overeducated individuals reject the great majority of suggested jobs because of their strong confidence in their exclusiveness that education suggests. As the result, the unwise access to high education may cause dysfunctions of an employment system in the state. This challenge occurred in the countries of the Third World, demanding the urgent solution. However, the socialist approach turned to be ineffective, betrayed with biases and prejudices.I consider that The Marxist theory, employed in the Soviet Union, demonstrated its practical weaknesses. Therefore, other fresh and more reliable ideas are to be implemented into the contemporary educational practice.
Major Challenges Facing Educational Process
The modern educational system faces numerous challenges. I found some of the problems, examining ideas of Bakhshov, Feinberg, and Soltis in the educational field.
The essence of education and the curriculum is the subject of brisk discussions. One of Bakhshov’s heroes argues about strict differences between the classical education, focused on poetry and conversations, and the modern training, requiring articles and researches. The adherents of the philosophical approach to education are few in number, creating an imaginative private club. Some experts consider philosophy to be pseudo-science, considering it being far from the reality. However, philosophy is the cradle of all the learning disciplines. Moreover, “logic and reason come into force only if imagination is there”. One can claim that wise balance is to be observed in the curriculum. Children are to have the opportunity to develop both analytical and creative skills, learning exact sciences and disciplines from both natural and humanitarian cycles. I argue that the harmony is the secret of the effective educational process.
I also support Feinberg and Soltis in the idea that critical thinking is to be the key skill that students develop during the educational process. In fact, the contemporary society is overloaded with loads of information imposed by mass media, state, prominent leaders, and ordinary members of the community. To distinguish true and false things, an individual is expected to develop analytical skills and the ability to understand the real state of things, inner intentions and causes of events. Therefore, the primary task of school is growing independent and critical thinkers, encouraging students to get into the real state of things.
Numerous unpleasant experiences may occur in the educational field. The wisest position is analyzing these unattractive facts, ignoring the detrimental emotions. The goal of this process is to understand the reasons of pitfalls to escape them in future.
Unfortunately, the most cynical thing is that any state organization seems to be uninterested in educated people who are able to think critically. These citizens may ask numerous inconvenient questions, like the challenges of unequal distribution of resources, different and unfair access to privileges, and an access to education, in particular. In fact, some points seem to become old-fashioned, such as the depicting school and religious establishments as the key tools for forming the social opinion. I consider the mass media to be the most influential and powerful unit that dictates ideas, both beneficial and detrimental. Therefore, the urgent task of the contemporary community is to protect democratic values by cultivating the ability to evaluate reality in young personalities.
The Ways of Effective Relationships between School and Community
The new social circumstances impose additional requirements to competence and skills of community members. Nowadays, educators are supposed to develop essentially different ways to build the effective relationships between school and community. Having explored the thoughts of Bakhshov, Feinberg and Soltis, I developed several ideas about the perfect education.
First, I consider that the state is supposed to guarantee non-interference of political ideologies into the education process. In fact, the childhood and teen years are the period of shaping a person’s individuality, the time when preferences, beliefs, devotions, and tastes are brought up. A child discovers the real world and obtains the basic knowledge about the good and the evil. On the one hand, the state is dramatically interested in its citizens’ adopting certain provided values. This way would facilitate keeping order in the community and controlling individuals through their personal beliefs. However, the history demonstrates that many values, beneficial for the high levels of the community, do not correspond to the interests of the whole society. I am confident that political beliefs are the additional tools to concentrate the power in the hands of the exclusive elite. Therefore, no political slogans may be present in educational establishments.
Second, I believe that adults and educators, in particular, are to help a little personality to find his or her real self, developing, teaching new things, and supporting in all undertakings. The pedagogical theory and practice have created numerous approaches to encourage and support the inborn capacities of a young personality. My point is that the best way to be successful is to get involved in learning disciplines through the interest. Young individuals are to be encouraged in their realizing the unique essence of their personality, supporting in searching their calling and mission in the community. They are to feel free in their creative undertakings that greatly depend on their teachers’ skills. I think that school years are to be the time of pleasure, full of new discoveries and positive emotions. All the teaching activity is expected to be built on games, inviting a child into the magnificent world of knowledge.
The third idea concerns inflicting punishment in the educational process. Personally, I consider this issue quite contradictory. On the one hand, punishing disobedient students facilitates keeping certain rules and the desired conduct of students. As the result, many teachers impose punishment as the effective tool to control the educational process. However, punishment makes a very strong negative impression on the vulnerable young personality. In my point of view, the most fruitful approach is creating the atmosphere of success in the group of students, where participants of the education process understand the advantages of learning and negative consequences of the improper conduct. These rules can be introduced in the form of game to help in better implementing the technique of explanation. Therefore, such a detrimental approach can be effectively escaped.
Fourth, involving the talented teaching staff is extremely important. In my viewpoint, only enthusiastic individuals can cultivate the love for knowledge, kindness, and the sincerity among young personalities. Unfortunately, the great majority of educators choose their job because of some duty or life circumstances. Being interested in the future welfare of its citizens, the democratic states have to give the priority to supporting teachers who work out of their calling.
Fifth, to be successful in educating field, teachers are expected to be aware of the smallest details in their students’ lives. This point can be achieved by getting full information about the environment the children and teenagers exist in, including the family assessment and the analysis of their social and economic status. I consider that a good teacher should know about his students’ lives, being well-informed, and feel sorrows and joys of his/her students.
I agree that for developing positive skills in students, educators need to cultivate respect to the diversity in all the spheres of life, such as gender, race, culture, and others. School team is the small pattern of the human society, where every member has his/her own strengths and weaknesses, beliefs, interests, and inclinations.
Functionalism and the conflict theory are the main theories of education process. Capitalism and socialism influenced the educational systems in the countries of their implementation.
The modern education fulfils the task that is broader than training individuals to be effective workers. The development of a child’s personality is in focus of the current education.
On the one hand, the contemporary education system faces numerous challenges, like creating the balanced curriculum, the shortage of talented teaching staff, and the interest of certain levels of society in silly citizens that make cheap workforce. On the other hand, overeducated individuals may become the real problem for the community.
The human society needs to create the effective educational system. First, political parties are to escape any interventions into the educational process. Second, the wise balance in developing an individual’s personality is to be observed. Third, punishment is to be replaced with more effective ways of class management. Fourth, talented teachers have to be supported. Finally, well informed and involved with their profession teachers may make their dreams about the perfect education come true.