Public education for an enlightened society
For time immemorial, education has been viewed as a bridge to facilitate professional life. Most people believe that education prepares candidates and students for specific job positions. It must, however, be noted that the above is true particularly when you consider the structured nature of curriculums in disciplines like law, engineering, art, sciences, and literature. Public education, however, does not address or prepare students for professional or formal undertakings. Rather, it acts as a common unifier. This means all those who receive public education are treated as equals and the law has no preference for any student regardless of their social, political, or even religious affiliation. It must be noted that for any economy, public education is a critically underpinning factor for all its citizens. Indeed, Villegas-Reimers in analyzing education and democracy supports the expansion of public education is an essential tool for effective citizenship.’ (Villegas-Reimers 2). Therefore, public education should impart skills and values to individuals to sustain but also enlighten a democratic society.
Education needs to offer people with an equal opportunity. Through public education, all students regardless of their backgrounds and affiliations are afforded equal opportunity. This means the role of public education is to treat all students under the same umbrella and offer equal learning opportunities. In nations with developed education systems like Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, education is seen as an opportunity for everyone. This is because it could be accessed by citizens as a means of understanding and appreciating their environments, cultures, and values. This analysis believes that public education should act as a unifier to connect people from various socio-cultural backgrounds, different races, and backgrounds. The unification capability created by public education should serve to put all people under respective democratic republics. More clearly, this means public education should mold learners to appreciate and conform to the values, ideas, and cultures of their specific nations and states.
Education as a source of enlightenment should act to impart learners with the understanding of an excess of things. For example, public education can impart to students the understanding of public institutions, their functioning, the scope of the constitution, and fundamental human rights. The knowledge of one’s rights makes it easier to fight corruption, to counter despotism from authoritarian regimes, and to prepare one for leadership and corporate stewardship. This analysis supports that public education should focus on issues like the constitution, the sovereign rights of all people, the values espoused in national legal frameworks, and the functioning of the society. This means that informed people are less likely to be involved in activities that are deemed illegal or inappropriate by the state. Also, public education seeks to eliminate what can be termed as ‘willful blindness’. Willful blindness occurs where there are well-established rules, laws, and norms – but the citizens do not conform to them either due to lack of knowledge or as a result of ignorance. As confirmed by Paulo Freire when discussing the banking concept of education, students act as containers through which instructions are stored. And the more learners are receptive to this education, the better they are in interpreting and understanding the world around them.’ (Freire 3). Hence, public education seeks to offer citizens and students a solid understanding of key tenets in the society.
Regardless of their mental confinements education should liberate individuals. For example, it is a common scenario to be caught by the law enforcement for slight infringements. Traffic police arrest motorists regularly. County government officials are likely to apprehend citizens for transgressions, and public civil servants are likely to loot resources from public coffers. However, a well-educated person is in a position to identify any flaws in law enforcement particularly where they are wrongly abused or even convicted without adequate proof of aforementioned allegations. This means that public education liberates people by giving them a solid understanding of their rights, the legal process, and different nature of infringements. This means it is hard for traffic police to manipulate or even extort well-educated, and enlightened citizens. Perhaps the most fundamental form of liberation offered by public education is that of knowing how to deal with violations of one’s rights and privileges. A person with a well-grounded public education will not only escape manipulation from State officials. S/he will pursue justice through appropriate legal processes and ensure the officer or State official faces the law in equal measure and magnitude. As Dewey notes, ‘for democracy to work it required informed and knowledgeable citizens, and hence public education has a moral purpose’ (Dewey 2). Hence, public education liberates people and condenses many forms of manipulation, violation, or unfair practices by those in authority or persons serving in public offices.
Education supports improving people’s social conditions. Dewey stressed that education has to prepare students for an uncertain future and, therefore, a high priority should be given to developing effective habits and the ability to adapt and learn how to learn (Dewey 2). By teaching effective habits and skills like time management and saving, public education prepares learners for future obstacles. The education further models young people as responsible, law-abiding and helpful adults of the society. This means that countries with well-structured public education are uniquely positioned to generate enlightened populations that will contribute to the socio-economic development of these particular nations. People’s social conditions can be enhanced by some elements in education. As ‘Dewey acknowledged some of these might include listening to others, persuasively sharing one’s opinion, and working alongside others toward a common good’ (Stitzlein 11). These skills are fundamental in the everyday life as they facilitate a person’s lifestyle and complement with popular, accepted norms and standards of living. This means persons with public education can easily implement their skills and knowledge to suit their lives and in the process improve their social conditions. Also, through proper skills and capacities, it is easy for these persons to secure better employment, to keep their jobs, and enjoy promotions as a result of implementing the skills as part of their routine both at home and in the workplace.
The National School Board Association conducted a national-wide assessment of what people believed to be the central role of public education. In the response, the most recurring patterns were as follows. 42.6% of respondents stated that it helps students fulfill their innermost potentials. 31.7% remarked that it helped students’ live productive and satisfying lives while 8.1% believed that it prepared students for professional and formal work. As the source quotes, ‘three-fourths of the board members acknowledge that it prepared students to live a productive and fulfilling life.’ (Peifer 2). The remaining stated that it prepared learners to be well-rounded and to be civilized. All these responses were determined as correct and legit based on the set standards by the board. As discussed throughout the paper, the sole focus of public education is to create awareness in people with regards to public institutions, the constitution, and fundamental human rights. Also, public education liberates citizens and learners from different forms of oppression that may be directed to them as a result of their lack of knowledge. Given that public officials are tasked with serving people in an equal and just manner, there are many forms of transgressions from public institutions. This means that public education enables learners appreciate their specific rights, correct outstanding flaws from public officials, and ultimately live a satisfying and fulfilling life.
Dewey, John. Reflections on the 100th year anniversary of John Dewey’s
‘Democracy and Education’
Freire, P. Chapter 2: The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Peifer, A. The Purpose of Public Education and the Role of the School Board. National Schools Board Association. (2014).
Villegas-Reimers, Eleanora. “Democracy for Education.” Democracy in Latin America. (Fall 2002). Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America.
.Stitzlein, Sarah M. “Public Schooling and Democracy in the United States.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. (Feb 2017)