Wednesday, January 9, 2013

GRE Essay Practice

Prompt: Write about your opinion pertaining to this statement. Nations need to require all their citizens to study the same national curriculum until college. A national curriculum would not be good for a nation., although it is not unreasonable to require some minimal educational requirements. By imposing a standard national curriculum educators would have to choose which pieces of knowledge to teach and which to exclude. A large amount of knowledge would be neglected by the majority of the nation. A national curriculum may cause dull uniformity or maybe even something worse. The country of America for instance has been a melting pot of people and ideas. To make every student in the entire country learn the same things would be to lessen the diversity of ideas. If evil people came to rule a certain nation, and imposed a national curriculum, the education could be controlled by the state; and the citizens may be indoctrinated with nationalist propaganda. Such a nation may slide into despotism or war as in Nazi Germany. The no-child left behind act introduced tough requirements on schools in relation to academic performance. The act has been the cause of grief for many educators. Certainly the students also suffer as the necessary curriculum is taught while leaving a student devoid of a love for learning. Each and every student is unique and has their own talents. To impose the same national curriculum on every student may prohibit some students from taking the time to pursue the subjects that excite their minds. Not every student is good at math, but some are. Instead of requiring every student to learn the same mathematical material we should encourage some to pursue it much more than others, while at the same time requiring that all students have a basic knowledge of mathematics. We should not expect all students to have a mastery of mathematical proof, but at least those who get A's in mathematics should have it. There needs to be some flexibility in the school curriculum so that students can pursue what they are good at, and the nation's creativity can flourish. By imposing a national curriculum the teacher's may not be able to do their best. Some teachers may have a love for a particular topic in their discipline. Say an English teacher has a passion for the writings of Jules Verne. If given the opportunity they may be able to make English exciting and fun while working with some of their favorite books. If the national curriculum did not include Jules Verne in the list of acceptable books, then the teacher would have to teach material they were less excited about; and consequently the students would be less excited as well. A national curriculum would infringe on the rights of parents who send their children to private schools and parents who home school. Certainly a course on the Koran would not be a part of the national curriculum of the United States, but it may be important for the parents of those who wish to send their children to a private school dedicated to religious tolerance. Certainly there are some things that a nation could require of all of its students. It is certainly beneficial for all students to learn basic arithmetic. There may of course be some things that all the students of a nation should be reasonably expected to understand: a nation's political structure for instance. It would not be unreasonable to have a set of minimum standards for all students. It is not a good idea for a nation to require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college. While it may be beneficial to require a minimum set of standards that all students must learn, it is not acceptable for the whole curriculum to be the same for every student. This would cause dull uniformity, a possible infringement of freedom, and loss of excitement and creativity for many teachers and students.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Arisotelian School

In a previous post I wrote about Aristotle's view of friendship. Here is a quote "The model of the best friendship that Aristotle outlines in the Nichomachean Ethics is based upon virtue. Aristotle writes, “when everyone strains to achieve what is fine and concentrates on the finest actions, everything that is right will be done for the common good, and each person individually will receive the greatest of goods, since that is the character of virtue”. This is Aristotle’s ultimate goal. If every person strove toward what is virtuous then eventually everything would be done for the common good, and nothing would be done selfishly. Even though we may never reach Aristotle’s ideal, individuals can still improve their lives, friendships, and the lives of others around them by aspiring to live virtuously." Why not found a school based on this idea? It would not be a religious school, but certainly religious people would be welcome. But also muslims, buddhists, even atheists would be welcome as long as they (or their parents) were committed to achieving good. The school could offer classes in philosophy or religion. I think it could be good.