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Education historian David Labaree writes: “Key to the institutional success [of American public education] has been its ability to embrace and embody the social goals that have been imposed upon it.” By this statement, the historian was implicitly highlighting that education is meant to achieve holistic social development. Moreover, for this to happen, a considerable amount of control is necessary. He continues to state that students are in class as a formality but not necessarily because they want to be there. The government has also committed resources in teaching technologies. As a result, whenever the government set performance standards upon educational institutions, success has been achieved immensely.

One of the conceptual advancements attained by the post-progressives was their emphasis of teaching the ‘whole’ child. This was expected to make more impact on a child who passed through the school system. However, this perspective has been accused of failure to actually achieve this holistic development of the child. One of the things was because the number of students in secondary schools had increased six fold. In order to teach the ‘whole’ child, Dewey suggests that the teaching must stimulate the child’s abilities actively, not passively.

Marxism has been one of the most influential schools of thought in the education. This is because education is a social tool that is meant to raise the social statuses of individuals. However, experts have realized that education may not necessarily contribute to one’s social upward mobility. Instead of making a person better, education could reproduce the social standards of parents on children. In the economic reproduction theory, Bowles and Gintis cited in McLeod  observed that the structures and curricula of schools are set in a way that satisfies the societal expectations. Perhaps the most literal explanation is because schools are set up by the society and it’s the society that reflects itself in the school or institution. As a result, if schools are meant to prepare students to take up economic production roles, curriculum is designed with this in mind. In other words, schools prepare students for the industry.

Although the school curriculum as well as teaching methods may be the same, students would not always benefit in the same way. Put in other words, they respond differently to education. This can be demonstrated in two levels. Firstly, students from different social classes are likely to reproduce their social positions, for instance, children of well-to-do families get good jobs while those from poor backgrounds do not. However, this is not always the case. Secondly, students from same backgrounds, actually from same family such as brothers, also perform differently from same educational facilities. This disparity can only be understood by grasping the meanings of ‘habitus’, social and cultural capital.

Bourdieu’s Concept of ‘Habitus’

In simple terms, MacLeod defines habitus as the collection of one’s beliefs and attitudes and ethnics as well as family values that shape one’s view of schooling. He defines social capital as networks of persons that an individual makes on a daily basis; and also the customs that bind the relationships thereof. He sees cultural capital as the general cultural background that may affect a child’s perception in class.

In explaining Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’, MacLeod (90) uses the ideas of cultural and human capital. According to him, all students, even those who share the same background, cannot be equally congruent. In addition, although brothers shared the same background, they were not equally compatible to same cultural stimulus. Furthermore, students from same backgrounds may respond differently because each of them has had different personal psychological experiences. This is not a sign of deficiency on their part but a constituent of what is referred to as cultural capital. According to Lareau (73), education should focus on the processes of identifying these latent differences other than the outcomes and students’ performances: emphasis on cultural capital.

Language is a key tool that helps students to learn their identities. It simply makes students realize that they are not the same as the others. This is perhaps well pronounced in schools where there are international students: students who have migrated from other countries and come to the U.S. to study. Basil Bernstein and Shirley Brice have immensely contributed to the concept of linguistic cultural capital. Cited in MacLeaod, the former posits that children in an educational institution should be viewed in the lenses of their speech communities.  According to him, working children of working class parents are used to restricted codes, middle class parents’ children are used to elaborate codes. While working-class children are affected by strict sense of compliance, middle-class children are not. As a result, teachers should be able to effectively assess these needs for effective delivery.  Bernstein explains that linguistic codes are entrenched in the way labor is divided in society. 

Funding in Educational System

Funding is a very important aspect in any educational system. This is because it helps in the support of the institution in terms of purchase of the necessary equipment and other facilities. These facilities contribute to the overall performance of students. Therefore, failure of adequate funding may lead to differential performance for schools. Although unequal funding may have been one of the reasons for poor performance, it could be explained in terms of the needs of schools. It is apparent that schools have different needs. It has bee established that unequal funding exists because there is also unequal taxation for schools. Therefore, schools that get fewer funds have less tax obligations. But this cannot be used as a way of dealing with matters of education. There is a direct connection between education standards and the amount of funds that are injected into the system. According to Rothstein, teachers’ salaries increase grew by less than 1% per year from 1990. Therefore, therefore, funding should be increased as the 21st century unfolds. This is because, he argues, that federal law assures free and compulsory education for all.

There is overwhelming evidence that school districts are funded from property taxes. There is also differential funding of schools in the sane State. Moreover, in order to motivate teachers, the government needs to treat all schools. The funding is important in providing salaries for teachers, to expand the size of classes and other aspects that contribute to the overall performance.

Since education is very important, all players should be equally involved. These players include the teachers, parents and the government. However, some parents are not involved in what the teacher expects of the child. This is a worrying trend. But going back to the theories and frameworks of education, this could be explained by the concept of social reproduction. In most cases, poor parents may not be interested in the activities of the teacher over their children. This is perhaps because the parents themselves are not beneficiaries of quality education. This leads to some kind of apathy and lack of motivation on the part of the parents to participate in the education of their parents.

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According to Hoeffer, in order to create the necessary human capital in children, parents must work closely with the children in order to produce the necessary capabilities in them. By so doing, they are able to socialize with the children thus creating some form of trust between themselves. According to Coleman Hoeffer, trust is an important social capita. However, because of their busy schedules, parents are not involved in their children’s education. Parental involvement is less in public schools than in private schools. Additionally, it is less in cases where parents are in a low socio-economic status. Further, they do not help them do their assignments. On the other hand, parents from private schools participate in the day-to-day education of their children. They do not only enquire what the teachers offered but also help in doing assignments. It is also critical to examine whether really parents are supposed to be involved directly. This is because according to Giroux, parent involvement may be seen as a way of devaluing their skills.

In What Every 5th Grader Should Know, Hirsch offers critical progressive perspectives with regard to modern education. This book covers basics of history and geography, biographies of famous scientists, collections of speeches of prominent Americans, mathematics, music and art, tales and language background. By, synthesizing Hirsch’s views with Dewey’s views in his ‘creed’, it is observed that there is a dichotomy between the so-called ‘democratic development’ and ‘social efficiency’. Hirsch’s book is based on progressive, as opposed to traditional education. It focuses on the usefulness of the individual in society but not a mere imparting of skills. According to Dewy, education should enable the child to participate in the ‘social consciousness of the race’: it should be child-centered. In the first sense, the book seeks to enable children to develop holistically (democratic development) while the second sense enables students to be prepared for the relevant social roles.

Code: Sample20

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