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Making Facts Live -- an Educational Synthesis Essay



What is pi? One answer may be 3.1415926, a mathematical answer approximated to eight significant figures; another answer may be a "real number defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter" in Euclidean space. The latter answer shows conceptual understanding, while the former is merely an abstract recitation. When put in to the real world, the latter answer is applicable, while the former answer is still merely a constant. The United States, one of the world's most technological advanced countries, is feeding its youngsters with superficial and soporific materials in school, which in turn degenerate the nation's education quality.

John Dewey, an American philosopher and educator, spent most of his lifetime developing a new education system and fighting against the classical education idea. In his proposed new scheme of education system, aimed to enhance America's democracy, Dewey tackles this threatening social and political issue arguing that a broadly human education will eliminate the uneducated through inspiration, enhance people's judgment through problem-solving and application, thus as a result, improve American democracy. Facing the country's illiteracy, low performance, and dropout problems, John Dewey's philosophy becomes the key of motivation for American students.


Throughout the years, U.S. government has firmly believed that increase in government spending on the nation's classical education will solve any problem, but this assumption has been proven flawed. While United States spends more than $10,000 per student from elementary school through college, American students' performances do not come close to those of other countries who spend, on average, $6,000 per student (USAToday). Even while America spends the most amount of money on education per student, the outcome of such a lofty investment is yet surprisingly discouraging (Norris). As one of the roots to America's learning deficiency, the student's lack of motivation has been greatly discouraged by the strict classical education. Many students are suppressed by the impracticality of the pure concepts taught in school and are therefore driven away from learning. Furthermore, when students lack interest in education, their wits deviate away from the rail of learning, and consequentially, many schools become environments that are "swamped with drugs" (Norris). Even when "high school dropouts are capable of much more than" what they are asked to do, the classical education system is incapable of providing the education necessary to elicit their talents (Norris). On the other hand, Dewey's education system ensures that every student is motivated in all fields and that every student will learn through experiences to maximize his or her potential.


Through Dewey's engaging method of teaching, all students are free to expand their interests. Dewey's philosophy has been highly effective when put in practice to tackle the deteriorating high school dropout problem, as demonstrated by the Gateway to College program. The program, founded by charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, accepts students with special needs, and teaches them "study techniques and classroom communication". The curriculum stresses on "building mutual supports among peers" and "helps motivate students" (Broder), differ from the classical method where students are forced through the "three-part process of training the mind" (Wise). Ideas presented in Gateway to College coincide with Dewey's philosophy which emphasizes the process of thinking and group collaboration rather than memorizing and individual learning. As a result, the "Gateway suggests that teenagers with low grade-point averages and personal problems can succeed" (Broder). In a democratic society, each individual deserves equal right to knowledge, and only when every citizen is informed and well educated, the democracy can make correct decisions. Under the classical system of education, teens with low GPA are discourage and disqualified from higher education, yet these students play equal roles in a democracy. Only the Dewey's system of education, each individual is inspired and motivated to learn and become qualified to support a nation's democracy. Dewey system of learning not only inspires one to learn, it also teaches the useful knowledge instead of obsolete and impractical facts which are taught by classical educators.


Base on a 2004 statistical study on the math level of American students and students from the rest of the world, American students' abilities to solve "questions that they would confront as citizens" are rudimentary. This study concludes that "countries that [emphasizes] theorems and rote learning tended not to do as well as those that [emphasizes] the more practical aspect of mathematics", indicating that United State's educating method only teaches abstract concepts, but never pragmatically apply the theories to real life (Norris). At the same time, many educators today are concerned with "how to ease the transition from high school to college or the workplace", implying that many graduate high school students are not prepared for the independent lives and intertwined social relations in colleges (Broders).For more help please buy essays.


As Dewey has foreseen, American students may remember the knowledge, yet they lack the skill to apply these knowledge to real life. Recently, Drake Bennett, an editor for the Boston Globe, has pointed out that 'school', in most people's mind, is where one sat through lessons about "denominators and organelles ..., precipitates and dangling participles", yet as one graduates from the classroom, these memories gradually fade from the back of one's mind due to the lack of application (Bennett). When a piece of knowledge is taught but not learnt, it sits in one's mind like a dangling participle that cannot be connected to any practical real life experience. In Dewey's proposed education system, students will learn through experiments; scholars will form their own hypothesis and examine their knowledge through trial and error. Through these hands-on studies, students will gain a better understanding of the materials they learn. Furthermore, this method of learning will hone one's judgment and problem-solving skills. Facing today's technology based society, each individual is overwhelmed with over abundant information on daily basis. In order to make the correct decisions, one must judge the credibility of each piece of information. "Information", which has been called the "weapons of mass distraction" by Todd Gitlin, an American political writer, will no longer be threatening to consumer's daily life if every audience is able to distinguish the real from the superficial pieces of data (Gitlin). In order to obtain such skill and knowledge, one must learn the practical aspects of all subjects, as taught in Dewey's system of teaching.


As a democratic nation, United States must ensure that its citizens receive the education necessary to choose and to vote for the ideal legislations and leaders. Classical philosophy has dragged America behind 27 countries, and only a change in education system can regain America's position among foreign countries in education. While democracy is a government governed by the people, its citizens must be educated in order to run the nation.


Dewey's system of education guarantees each individual's right to an education that is both inspiring and practical. Through Dewey's philosophy, the overall level of education in a nation will elevate as the dropout problem resolves and the knowledge taught well applied. As asserted by American educator Horace Mann, an educated community will prevent violence to improve the nation's social level, and make rational economic decisions to enhance the nation's economy. In order to achieve the governmental, social and economical goals, primary as well as secondary schools must reform to focus on mainly on application and practicality of the subjects.



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