For Twitter Book Club tonight I am reading John I Goodlad's (1979) What Schools are For
I read this book in an Education Policy class in Graduate School and I remember being completely impressed with it. Much of what Goodlad wrote rocked my own assumptions and did much to shape new understandings and ways of thinking for me. However, when I read it I did not have the luxury of taking the time with the text the way I would have liked to. I always said I would reread it for slow digestion. Therefore, I am going to take my reading of this book for Twitter Book Club slowly.
"President Johnson had said that, if one looks deeply enough, education is found to be at the heart of all our problems." Goodlad
Notice Johnson said "Education" not "Schooling." I wonder if he viewed the two as the same thing.
"baby-sitting does not appear on any list of state goals of schooling." Goodlad
Goodlad makes a good point here about how there is a great discrepancy between what institutions state as their goals and mission and how they actually get used. While "Baby-sitting" is not a stated goal of any school it certainly is an important function for many families.
"One would have to examine much more than local and state lists of educational goals to determine the (cont) http://tl.gd/63t03c
This discrepancy between stated goals and actual use is an interesting one when you take the long-view. Historically, schools have been used differently at different moments in history but their stated goals have remained fairly constant.
"we would hesitate to conclude that students in that district are acquiring a love of literature and habits (cont) http://tl.gd/63t0ef
"Preoccupation with limited, short-term effects probably has retarded interest in the question of what schools do." Goodlad
In our rush to "catch up" to the rest of the world's math, reading, and science test scores have we missed the mark?
"The prevailing principle is that high achievement scores signal good schools; low scores indicate bad (cont) http://tl.gd/63t17b
I like this quote so much I am going to repeat it in-full so even those reading this and not exploring the Twit-Longer links can read it:
"The prevailing principle is that high achievement scores signal good schools; low scores indicate bad ones. The widespread application of such a principal is simplistic, misleading, and dangerous." Goodlad
"the question of what schools are for is inextricably tied to the question of what education is." Goodlad
This, I think, is another one of those questions that is hard to answer and even harder to think about that never gets asked because there is such widespread belief that the definition of that term is universally understood. In fact, "education" is a term that usually relies heavily on cultural heredity to influence it's definition. What is education to precolonial American Indians? What is education to 19th century Germans? What is education to the 1950s American? What is education to so called "global citizens?" I suspect if we asked this question broadly, just as if we asked people what schools are for, we would get an array of responses that would surprise most educators and be very revealing about those respondents.
"schools are only in part educational institutions." Goodlad
"The ultimate test of what schools are for is what they do. What they actually do may bear little (cont) http://tl.gd/63t255
"Once the balance in what schools do swings predominately to non-educational functions, what action should a society take?" Goodlad
I have a hard time with this one. What I have a hard time with is Goodlad had just previously called into question the very definition of what education is but never really defined his use of the term for us. But, then in this statement he uses the adjective form of the term (educational) to describe the type of functions a school does or doesn't serve. He is using a term he has not defined as the basis for an argument or at least the basis for a point of discussion.
"it seems sensible to assume that what schools do and should do is not necessarily the same for Manhattan, (cont) http://tl.gd/63t2rr
I have come to strongly believe this statement. I think our push in the standards movement for homogeneity in what students learn has led to narrowed curriculum and devaluation of anything that cannot be assessed objectively. It has also crippled out ability to see multiple perspectives.
"Schools serve many masters." Goodlad
"A monolithic system of schooling is neither necessary nor desirable." Goodlad
"When we have more data on what schools actually do, we will become more conscious of the limitations of (cont) http://tl.gd/63t3td
How would we measure this? If we could even capture enough data to answer this question, in a time of great change in our schools, would the analysis even be relevant by the time we got to that point in the process? I fear to attempt answer this question would be harder than herding cats. It is much easier to collect data on "What schools did" and draw conclusions from the past to inform the directions we must go in the future.