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Individual versus Society

Education has always been a tall headstone amongst the graveyard of America. So much has gone into it, yet not so much has come out. A mass confusion has occurred somewhere along the line. Is schooling for each individual, or for everyone, for America? Well, as much as some of our newest goals tend to center around individual beliefs and "the right to be your self", just the opposite has surfaced. America has taken its education system into a dirty hole, and made it the pet of capitalism and greed. All this turmoil has to start somewhere though, and that somewhere is in each and every school across the country. The tension we plainly and obviously see is not a tension at all, but we have been blinded to see it as one. Society runs our schools, tradition runs our schools!

1.)When the Tension Became

"In the 1830ís advocates of public schools claimed schools were necessary to educate future citizens, reduce crime, and provide equality of opportunity."(Spring 8) Okay, so there we have it; education is for society, right? But what about meritocracy, everyone should get equal chances in school, right? So we are swinging the other way now, it is about each individual getting what is best for them. Actually education was formed to serve both the individual and society that creates a huge problem. In a perfect Care Bear world of course this would work to perfection, but this is America, people are allowed to state their opinions, and they did. The opposite viewpoints of so many political leaders reeked havoc on the government. In the past the problem was smaller, the government having total control, school was definitely more of a societal issue, it was patriotic, and very affective. So where did it all go haywire. Well, not everyone was white, but everyone in school was.


America must be such a wonderful country; everyone wants to come here to learn and to live. Yes they have come here to learn, but will they be able to Americanize themselves fast enough to be able to do so. Though our country has always talked of these so called open arms, it has always discriminated against minors in the education system. These minorities come to our country looking to better themselves with high level education, only to have a low class label slapped on them immediately. They become citizens and still, are left behind. This began to make some educational leaders and common citizens question how they were going about educating our children. So why canít they catch on? They donít know our language, or our culture, or our methods of schooling. Are we helping them enough before we test them? What about culture, should we even be Americanizing Mexicans, what about there traditions, what about there holidays? Should every child be exposed to every other childís culture?

3.)Why isnít this working?

Public schools are a total mess right now, do teachers teach the children to believe what they wish, or to believe what they are told. Well there are many factors that play into this problem; these factors create the tension between the individual and society. First, culture, there are so many cultures out there these days that trying to centralize all their ideas into one greater belief is impossible. Second, rights, can educators really force ideals on children in school? The answer is yes. This answer is very unfortunate, and indirect. It used to be that Christian and American ideals were forced upon students of different religious backgrounds or nationalities directly with statements like the pledge of allegiance or with songs such as the Star Spangled Banner. Well, a lot of that has ended quickly. For example, the word "god" has been removed from the pledge of allegiance due to the fact that not every child believes in god. (Spring 15) Is this a problem, well yes a lot of people have a big problem with removing god from the pledge. But what about respecting everyoneís opinion? Looks like we have dug ourselves in a pretty damn deep hole, so who is it who will dig society out? Parents? That is another problem; most parents see school as a way to get rid of their kids, a way to be free. " The growing expectation that schools should take on more of the functions traditionally performed by parents is sparking frustration and tension in some parts of the country." (Bushweller 2). Kids come home from school influenced by so much bias, and the parents donít seem to care, they are just tired of having them around all the time, school has become a babysitter. This makes children a target for the dreaded S word, socialization. What happens when your parents stop teaching, you learn what you see on TV, what you hear on 103.3, what America wants you to be.

4.)What is really going on?

So America welcome to reality 101, I will be your professor today, and America is going to make you all perfect citizens, robots if you will, you will jump when they tell you, and politicians will keep things from you so that you can help us screw you. What does all that mean? That means education. School has become a playground for instilling in Americans three things: To be good people, to be good citizens, to make each person his or her best (Gatto 35). Except after that third one add: if they are willing to cooperate. So now the schools will tell us as U.S. citizens what a good person is, how to be American, and how to be the best they will let us get. American society is on a track my friends; it is a single railed track. Everyone has been pushed to believe that we are individuals, when in actuality they are being pushed period. Bias methods and fear have made America a corporate greedy masterpiece. Students are being educated for the sake of being consumers, and producers, nothing else. No child left behind sums this all up, Being forced to learn things that are supposed to be who you are, and being taught them by another person who isnít you, that is socialization, that is manipulation of the individual for a better industrious society, not for a meaningful pursuit of knowledge.



















Spring, Joel. American Education ,eleventh ed. New York, NY, 2004, McGraw-Hill.

Gatto, John Taylor. Against School. Ill. Coburn, Travis. Harperís Magazine, September, 2003. pg. 33-38

Bushweller, Kevin. Take My Kids Pleeeze! . American School Board Journal, February 1996. pg. 12-16