Friday, November 27, 2009

Education for a democratic and pluralistic society: part 1 of 3

(As part of my Masters of Education, Instruction and Curriculum, I'm required to take a course called Education for a Democratic and Pluralistic Society [EDTE 251, Loeza]. Within this course, I was supposed to write two position papers on a topic of my choice, conduct an interview, and create a presentation using technology on the same topic. Here is part one of three of my technology project.)

Have you ever felt like a sardine packed in a tin can when seated in bleachers like the above picture? Yet, after awhile, you forget the discomfort - you get used to it.

US education reform often mirrors this "closed bubble" feeling. Why should we care what other students in other countries do in their public schools? All we need to do is focus on improving our own school system.

However, the pan-out picture from the aerial camera is much more spectacular than the tunnel vision available at individual seats. US education reformers should take note of what other countries have done in their reform histories, learning from their mistakes and perhaps adopting their successes to create a more well-educated society.

My first position paper, Education Reform: An International Agenda, was my comparison of various school reform histories in the US, Slovakia, and the Scandinavian countries (namely, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark). The comparison was very narrow and further study would be needed to gain a more complete picture of how various countries' public education systems are similar and different.

I had many sources, but the main ones were:

Hechinger, Fred M. About education; miracle cures seldom work in school reform. The New York Times. September 13, 1983. 1983/09/13/ science/about-education-miracle-cures-seldom-work-in-school-reform.html?&pagewanted=all

Kalin, Jana. Zuljan, Milena Valencic. Teacher perceptions of the goals of effective school reform and their own role in it. Educational Studies. Volume 33. No 2. June 2007. pp. 163-175.

Telhaug, Alfred Oftedal. Medias, Odd Asbjorn. Aasen, Petter. From Collectivism to individualism? Education as nation building in a Scandinavian perspective. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research. Volume 48. No 2. April 2004.

I noticed that education in the Scandinavian countries from sixty years ago was very similar to the US school system today. There is value in studying the process, and current results, of school reform in other countries to analyze how US reforms can improve. In the end, most countries' goals for educational reform is to create a more well-rounded, educated public which can produce (and reap) better economic and social benefits.

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