The Paideia Proposal: an educational Manifesto by Motimer Adler, in my opinion, is a very well written book. It contained easy, well flowed text. It enlightened me in more ways than one. According to this written this book sends out a message about how our schools are in dire need of reform, to say the least. It calls for reform for the future of our youth, our children and thus our society as a whole. The Paideia Proposal places in perspective how the youth of our country are in fact our salvation later.
Whereby our economy and the workings of our democratic institutions "lies in our schools today (pg. 1)." The book points out how we might better our educational systems and provides additional reading which will allow our schools to place these programs in effect. It also takes into perspective some of the impediments and distinct disadvantages some of our school districts will have implementing these programs. It also sets forth the neglect of parents, teachers and schools of our youth. The Paideia Proposal is a cry for vital changes in our way or approach to basic schooling, as well as, to the preparation of teachers.
Its goal is to turn our children today into knowledgeable, participating, competent citizens of our future. Motimer Adler is a great philosopher of education and through this book he has given us, the members of society, something to really think about. To say the least he is giving us a real chance of future filled with knowledgeable, competent citizens of our future. Adler incorporates the works of John Dewey and Horace Mann among other works in his way of thinking all of whom compliments eachother. Adler's vision of education revolves around many points.
Some of which are as follows: Democracy and education (pg. 4), education will lead to equality (pg. 5-6), all children are teachable (pg. 8), schooling is only a part of education (pg. 9-), Learning is only as beneficial as a teacher makes it (part 3), and to equip our children to be able to earn good livings and to enable them to lead good human lives (pg. 73).
Democracy and Education In the Book Adler points out a book written by John Dewey "Democracy and Education" written in 1916. He explains that although this book was written so long ago it wasn't until now, this century, that democracy has become an issue regardless of "sex, race or ethnic origin (pg. 3)." Adler explains that Dewey understood this early in this century and found that both words Democracy and Education shed light on each other. The message by Dewey through his book was "that a democratic society must provide equal educational opportunity not only by giving to all its children the same quantity of public education -- the same number of years in school -- but also by making sure to give all of them, all with no exceptions, the same quality of education (pg. 4)." He also tells us that although this concept was given to us early on we have, as a society, failed to meet this ideal.
Adler states that we can no longer go on failing without grave consequences for our youth, our children, for the proper workings of our political institutions for the salvation of our economy, for the vitality of our culture, and for the ultimate good of our citizens as individuals, and especially our future citizens -- our children -- we must succeed. For the most part, we are all victims of a school system that has only gone half way to realize the promise of democracy and it has taken us about eighty years to reach this half way mark to a true democracy, In addition, this half way mark has brought us closer to that goal of another great philosopher Horace Mann who Stated that "Education is the Gateway to equality (pg. 4 -5)." Education will lead to Equality According to Adler, Horace Mann put forth this goal almost a century ago. Although this goal is halfway fulfilled I would have to agree with Adler when he states that a "goal half fulfilled, is worse than a promise broken. It is an ideal betrayed." Adler tell us that we are supposed to be a classless society and our citizenry as a whole is our ruling class. However, this concept falls very far from the truth.
If this were true we would also be educationally classless society which we are not. Dewey's and Mann's view has failed. Even if we now have the same Quantity of public schooling, as Adler points out, we do not maintain the same quality thereof. And this failure is a violation or a breach of our very own democratic principles. It was said best by Robert Maynard Hutchins, a philosopher, as much committed to democracy as Dewey was before him. He stated "The best education for the best, is the best education for all (pg 6)." The best education for all is not unattainable.
All children are educable. In fact we must end hypocrisy. Adler writes: we cannot say from one end of our mouth that we are for democracy and all its free institutions and out of the other end say that ony some of the children -- fewer than half -- are educable for full citizenship and a full human life. That is not democracy. I am in total agreement with Adler when he states that with the exception of those who suffer from brain damage all children are teachable. If we fail to give the best education to all then we are not only failing as a society, but in my opinion we are failing as parents, teachers, administrators and thus as human beings.
According to Adler, "there are no unteachable children. There are only schools and teachers and parents who fail to teach them (pg. 8)." Schooling is Only a Part of Education According to Adler, School is only a part of education. He states that although all children are educable and all are able to become educated persons we can not become fully educated in school, no matter how long the schooling or how good it is. Adler tells us that the age at which most children attends school prevents us from becoming fully educated.
He explains that no one can be an educated person if they are immature. Adler believes that only through trials of adult life and through experience does one become mature And maturity along with education makes a fully educated person. "The mature may not be as trainable as the immature, but they are more educable by virtue of their maturity (Pg. 10)." In other words he tells us that education is a life long process in which schooling is a part of.
Stages of schooling come to an end however, learning goes on as long as you are living and healthy. Adler believes that schooling is a predatory stage that forms habits of learning. Therefore, schooling that does not prepare one for further learning of life has failed. Schooling should open doors of learning so that individuals can actively participate in life.
This writer believes this view. As a personal note I have gone through many experiences mostly tragic, in my life and with everyone I Have grown mentally, morally and spiritually. Without these experiences I do not believe I would be the mature person I'd like to think I have become. Adler states this concept of maturity, experience and schooling best when he states: "We believe... that all children are destined for learning, as most are destined for labor by their need to earn a livelihood. To live well in the fullest human sense involves learning as well as earning (pg.
12)." Learning is Only as Beneficial as a Teacher Makes It The heart of the matter is the quality of learning and teaching that goes on during the hours spent in class. A child enters school at one end and leaves through another. The difference then depends on the quality of learning and the quality of teaching that goes on throughout the journey (p. 49). Inevitably, the turn out is primarily based on the quality of the teaching. Teachers need to motivate children, they need to guide them and inspire them to learn not only within the classroom but also outside of the class.
As stated in the book teachers need to guide their students they need to keep them as active participants wanting to discover and wanting to know. It is not sufficient that a student memorize facts only to forget them once the test is given. As Dewey put forth "one can only read or write well only by reading or writing... just as one learns to swim or run well only by swimming or running (p. 52)." To learn how to do anything well one must not only do it but they should be guided by someone more knowledgeable. This knowledgeable person should be the teacher.
Because of this, it is vital that teachers know what it is that they are doing. I remember doing algebra in the eighth grade and asking my teacher why something had to be done that way and he told me "because I said so." Although I passes my sequential I regents with a 98% I never knew why the formula needed to be done that way. It wasn't until last year while taking an education course on how to teach math that I found out the concept behind what I was doing. You see what I learned was a skill that never made sense to me, I never was taught the concept.
Now, I will never forget it. That same bad teaching I received in middle school goes on all the time. I have even experienced it in college. I could only hope that the teachers who are going into the field now will not run into this same pattern. All teachers and future teachers should be gifted, strongly motivated and rise above regardless of adverse conditions. The fact of the matter is there are only a small number and regretfully there will always be a relatively small number of great teachers.
Because of this there will never be the same education for all. At the present time, there are many reasons for this. Bad working conditions with little educational supplies, average rate of pay, little respect, low social status, amongst others things are some reasons for this. However, In my opinion this does not compensate for bad teaching. Teachers need to be learners also. As Adler states, to be a truly educated person one needs to continue learning and wanting to learn even long after schooling is complete.
Teachers should always be able to adjust. They should be able to take constructive criticism and be able to to try different approaches to teaching. Most of all teachers need a strong leader. This leader is their principal (p. 63).