Term Paper: Educational Reform

Pages: 8 (2536 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Topic: Teaching  ·  Buy This Paper

Educational Reform

We understand that the nature of education, its very essence, has not changed significantly over the course of human history. The internal dynamic, the direct instruction method followed by practice is an essential element to our very fabric as humans - every culture has developed this kind of instruction and has perfected it for its use. Fullan, Crevola and Hill do nothing to change the status of this arrangement, they do not introduce new methodologies that change the core dynamic - other than to seek to facilitate the ability of the instructor to create curriculum that fits the needs of the students rather than adhering strictly to district-managed curricular programs. This in itself is not revolutionary, but it does present a well thought out challenge to the status quo. One of the most problematic and simultaneously successful aspects of "modern" education is the centralized control over curriculum taught across an entire school district and school system at the state and local levels. Fullan, et al.'s book, Breakthrough Leadership: A Way Forward, seeks to take on the seemingly impossible task of providing a truly viable restructuring of the entire way that a school district is managed, curriculum is designed, and instruction implemented. The problem with this "Breakthrough Method," however, is several-fold: it has never been fully implemented, therefore it is theoretical in nature; it requires a complete paradigm shift in the educational structure, making it necessary to see change effected within teacher and administrator education, community expectations, external support systems, and top-level expectations; and the only true way for the program to be implemented would be for officials at the absolute top levels of the educational hierarchy to take up the banner of change and all of the sweeping 'reforms' that would come with that. As such, Fullan, et al.'s book is certainly a very engaging argument for the empowerment of teachers within the school setting to employ a true "moral purpose" to their work and the creation of a system that allows that purpose to drive learning. However, there is simply no reasonable expectation that without a massive sweeping change in the entire educational structure would the ideal system setout in this book be actually possible. Unfortunately, this book is probably destined to sit on many bookshelves behind many desks, to be used as a prop rather than a tool - which is a real shame because the concepts set forth by the authors are indeed revolutionary and truly amazing (if what they claim is true).

Fuller, Hill and Crevola begin their book with very high aspirations, "The old mission was about providing access for all to basic education and access for a relatively small elite to university education...The new mission takes over where the old one left off. It is to get all students to meet high standards of education and provide them with a lifelong education that does not have...built-in obsolescence...but that equips them to be lifelong learners," (Fuller, et al., 2006, 1).

With this lofty goal in mind, the authors set out, step-by-step, to outline a restructuring of an entire educational system that they perceive as being outmoded and rooted so deeply in the past that, "teaching looks much the same from one generation to the next" (41). The authors compare the evolution of education to that of nurses, but in a rather negative way - nursing and medicine itself has changed and evolved dramatically over the past century, going so far as to observe that nurses trained in the 1950's would hardly recognize the profession beyond the basics of patient interaction today. However, as the authors claim, within education, there has been little perceived necessity for change because the essential product itself has not changed - information processing, social integration, and the ability to function within the world both physically and mentally remain the core of education. but, as the authors point out, the product actually has changed - our world is very different from the one in which our current educational paradigm was created.

Our educational system continues to revolve around an agrarian economy - the fact that there is still a long summer break between school "years" is a true holdover from that past when children were expected to assist on the farm with the harvest. However, very few children in North America live on farms and even fewer would be expected to assist with the operation of those farms. The concepts of what it takes to be successful in life have also changed - being able to simply read, perform basic math, and communicate in writing is no longer the minimum needed for functionality. Our children must be technically adept, able to type quickly and more effectively than they are truly expected to hand write, they must be able to change careers multiple times and weather the economic turmoil that those changes can bring, they must be able to adapt and shift their skills from one occupation to another, and they are required to be flexible in their mindset. None of these aspects of modern life are truly present within the traditional educational structure - and this is what the authors are trying to alleviate.

The problem, for the authors, is not in convincing their audience that a change is necessary or, indeed, warranted. It is found within the structural reality of education itself - with an institutionalized structure as entrenched as education, teaching, educational administration, and teacher education is (and further complicated by unions, contracts, and other outside factors) a rather daunting "opponent" and seemingly immovable object. The authors studied the educational systems throughout the world and particularly in those nations where achievement in math and science have significantly outpaced ours, and determined that there exist collaborative models in which teachers work together to create curriculum, where real-world application is infused within the work, and in which teachers themselves get recognized and rewarded not for their age and education, but for their achievement and skill. What they observe is that, apparently, where these kinds of structures exist, there also exists a high degree of accomplishment within the academic environment.

Of course it isn't enough to simply shout out that a change is due, that we must move on and improve our system - this is a battle cry that is sounded by virtually every politician, parent, teacher, administrator, and official. The authors actually create a genuine structure and a game-plan - a complete reform of the educational structures that we have come to depend upon to form our children into citizens, employees, and people. If we examine this from the point-of-view of the student, we can perhaps get a glimpse of what the authors are trying to accomplish. At the beginning of their educational career, the student would attend school, effectively, year round. This would infuse the idea that education is something that is as core to our being human as forming families, finding jobs, and contributing to our communities. Then, they would participate in classes - more like immersive environments that are designed better to put a context into the activities and subject matter that would not have traditionally been possible. This, of course, would have the effect of creating an immediate connection between learning and application. The teachers would have been taught how to modify the delivery methods of the curriculum to best fit the needs of the moment and the relative progress of the class, finally, the administrative structure would be such that rather than the dictatorial relationship that exists now, a true collaboration would exist - where the administrator is less important (overall) than the individual teacher - figureheads being what they are, their role would be relegated to administrative and coordinating duties while the teachers are provided with a much greater sense of ownership over the progress of the school's students.

So, what then is the actual revolution? What is it that the authors intend to actually reform? Nothing less then everything. Curriculum design would have to leave the strict - skills-based emphasis behind (with the outmoded idea that simply teaching rote skills provides an adequate foundation for later expansion of knowledge) and blend that with context-based and application-based learning. For example, in math, being able to put 2 and 2 together to get 4 doesn't just mean addition tables, it can mean understanding exactly how four objects interact with each other depending upon their configuration, or the significant difference in output four people can have over two, etc. However, for text-book writers, these concepts are simply out of the range of the most conservative of school districts - which is what textbook writers create their lessons for.

Structurally, our system is designed to provide educational opportunities only as long as they do not offend the "middle" - that swath of America where particularly traditional methods of living (including education) hold sway in absolute obstinacy against progress and change. Because they want to sell books in volume and not in quality, textbook makers only produce… [END OF PREVIEW]

Role of Assessment in Education Essay

Successes and Failures in Curricular Reform Thesis

Reform Movements Effect on Teaching Science Term Paper

Educational Crisis Essay

Educational System School Improvement the Primary Purpose Term Paper

View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Educational Reform.  (2007, November 25).  Retrieved October 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/educational-reform/6276

MLA Format

"Educational Reform."  25 November 2007.  Web.  21 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/educational-reform/6276>.

Chicago Format

"Educational Reform."  Essaytown.com.  November 25, 2007.  Accessed October 21, 2019.