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Should Students Have A Say In Curriculum?

799 words - 3 pages

Should educators include what students want to study in syllabi? Since the 20th century, industrialism and suffrage amplified the din for popular education. Change augured progress but posed a dilemma, “Who should choose curricula?” as adding an array of social science and technical courses to their agendas became the policy of most nations. European countries and Russia still crafted centralized, or dual, educational systems, a counterpoint to pluralistic America: only elementary schooling for many, secondary and college for higher echelon. Under the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution, education evolved into an escalade of state, county and city districts as funds for all school grades and laws barring segregation benefited scores of students. Luminaries John Dewey and Edward Thorndike developed special courses compassing the entire range of individual abilities as standardized testing invented by Alfred Binet objectified students' progress. The scientific method applied to curricula resulted in a unique paradox: Schools educated students to conform to society while providing them an opportunity to break out of whatever constraints their environment imposed on them. Is choice vital to the American experiment because it helps students resolve such conflicts?

If educators took a poll of students' choices, would they teach sex, drugs and rock n'roll in lieu of language and math? Presume for a moment, schools do not trade off subjects for rock music but choose diverse sets of electives. Like each hand wearing a different glove, it is plain their aims would become confused. Patchwork requires educators to seek some uniformity from the backgrounds of students entering secondary schools and colleges. In which historic contexts, and to what future extent, should educators choose curricula? Ancient Romans made mandatory total recall of the Twelve Tables but as Grecians prepared the young of city-states, marital arts taught in Sparta contrasted to harmony of Athens, evinced by dialectic, Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Principles, induction applied to the growth of the individual and foundation for modern science. To solve the conflict, should students memorize tomes or gear for internecine warfare, as in Sparta or Rome? Requiring students to don garb woven in the patterns of their flags, or adhere to curriculum in extremis, raises the question if one design fits all. Aggressor nations that made cultural unity synonymous with political unity used curricula to...

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