Tag Archives: education

Work Attitudes of Teachers

A teacher’s mindset is a powerful driver in the quality and commitment of their work. When things are tough, it is possible teachers may not give their best effort. This post will cover a variety of topics related to teachers in the workplace. We will look at job involvement, job satisfaction, and institutional commitment, among other issues.

Job Involvement 

Job involvement is a measure of a person’s interest in their job. For teachers, involvement can vary as with other occupations. A common enemy for teachers is burnout, which is a sign of overwork and perhaps over-commitment to teaching. Burnout symptoms can be fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and or pulling away from social gathers. It is common for people’ who are highly involved to experience burnout because of their passion for teaching.

Naturally, teachers should be highly involved and engaged in their job of helping young people. However, it is also equally important to avoid the trap of burnout. If a teacher is overworked and fatigue from being too involved with their work, they will not support and help students to the level they should.

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is a closely related term to job involvement; this construct is the emotional state a person feels towards their job. For teachers, this can be seen as how much they love their work. A person can be highly involved with their job and hate the situation they are facing. For example, many teachers love teaching, but the stress of misbehaving students can take the emotional joy out of a job they are highly involved with.

Other factors affect job satisfaction. Pay can play a critical role in satisfaction. It is common knowledge that teachers are generally paid poorly compared to other professions.

Supervisor support is another factor. For teachers, this can vary from place to place. Some schools have highly supportive administrators who mentor and help teachers with challenges. However, the opposite is also the case, and that is the administrator who comes when there is a problem.

Lastly, coworker interaction can play a role in job satisfaction. Teachers spend the majority of their time only in the classroom. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for positive and negative interactions with colleagues. Meetings, lunch breaks, workshops, field trips, etc., are all opportunities for encouragement and backstabbing from other teachers.

Institutional Commitment

Institutional commitment is the strength with which a teacher identifies with their school or organization. This can involve accepting the school’s goals, exerting effort for the organization, and a strong desire for maintaining a connection with the institution. There are three components to the institutional commitment: normative, affective, and continuance commitment.

Normative commitment is a teacher’s sense of obligation towards their school. This can come from family, peer, or some other form of socialized pressure. Teachers may stay at a school because it is not socially acceptable to people in their social group to quit the job or move on to other opportunities. For many, this is the wrong reason to stay committed to an organization.

Affective commitment is the emotional attachment a teacher hast towards their institution. As the years go by and the memories increase, teachers can often develop a fondness for their employment institution regardless of the negative factors. Affective commitment is often the most valued because it will usually encourage a teacher’s hard work and effort.

Continuance commitment is a teacher maintaining allegiance to an institution because there are not any better opportunities. The teacher is strictly working at that particular school for the money. Many administrators are not fond of this type of commitment, but the reality is that people have to work, and there are times when they are waiting for other doors to open.

The various ideas discussed here do not only apply to a commitment to an institution. Some teachers love teaching and are committed to that regardless of the institution in which they work. They may love teaching or may be pressured to be a teacher, maybe they are waiting to change careers, or it could be a combination of all three.

Conclusion

The attitude and commitment a teacher has towards teaching and even where they work can vary from person to person. What motivates and drives any individual to do anything is a complex process to understand. The purpose here was to provide some ideas into what affects a teacher’s view of their occupation and place of work.

Attribution Theory and the Classroom

In this post, we will look at attribution theory from the perspective of the classroom. Attributing behavior to various causes is something that we all do. Therefore, for teachers, it is essential to understand how this can be useful and sometimes detrimental.

Attribution Defined

Students and teachers are motivated to understand what causes certain things to happen in the classroom and at school. This idea is known as the attribution process. For example, if a student is disruptive, a teacher will determine what is causing this behavior. They may conclude that it is due to inattention, another student, family problems at home, etc. If a student sees that another student is given an award over them, they may attribute this to perhaps their race, gender, etc., and decided that there is no hope in achieving the same reward themselves.

Attribution can also be divided into two categories, which are external and internal causes. An example of an internal cause may be that a student was a hard worker, and thus this is why they received an award. An external cause may be that the student was lucky in getting the award. There are many different ways in which people can attribute the behavior and things that happen around them.

Ways Attributions are Formed

According to research, teachers and students can attribute or explain their environment around them from at least three perspectives: consensus, consistency, and distinctiveness. Consensus is how much a person’s behavior is in alignment with the group. For example, if a student is disruptive, a teacher may comment that “no one else is acting like this.” This attributes the bad behavior to the student because their actions are not in alignment with the class. If the entire class were disruptive, the teacher would have to attribute the bad student’s behavior to something else.

Consistency is whether the behavior is normal for the student. If a student is usually well-behaved but suddenly is out of control, the teacher will probably attribute this to something external to the student. However, if the student is behaving normally, the teacher will probably attribute this to some internal cause. This also applies to the teacher. If the teacher’s behavior changes, the student may begin to investigate and ask questions. On the other hand, if the teacher behaves normally, the students may attribute this to the teacher’s character.

Distinctiveness is how varied a person’s behavior is as the situation changes. Low distinctiveness means the person’s behavior never changes, while high is the opposite. For example, some teachers are always calm, no matter what. Therefore, if they are excited suddenly, students will probably look for an external cause for this behavior change. In addition, some students are always difficult and disruptive. If a student is quiet and working one day, the teacher may become suspicious because of this behavior change.

Attribution Error

Making conclusions like this can naturally lead to mistakes. The error of discounting external causes and overly emphasizing internal causes is known as fundamental attribution error. As teachers, we often blame students rather than looking at our classroom management style when they are disruptive. In other words, people like to blame individuals rather than look at factors that led to the behavior.

Another attribution error is self-serving bias. Self-serving bias attributes success to one’s actions while blaming others for failure. For example, when students do well academically or behaviorally, a teacher will often take credit for this. However, when students are misbehaving, it is the students’ fault and not the teachers.

Conclusion

Attribution theory is one of many factors that can play a role in the classroom. Educators need to be aware of the mistakes we can make when trying to understand our students.

Teacher Errors in Perceiving Students

There are times when teachers make mistakes in how we judge and see our students. This post will look at three common ways people can misjudge people with applications for the classroom.

Stereotyping

Stereotyping is the process of making generalizations about a group of people. Stereotypes are generally malicious, but there are positive stereotypes that people do not complain about as much. In addition, people will often apply stereotypes to strangers or people they do not know yet. Once a relationship is established, the stereotypes may be discarded.

For teachers, it is common to assign stereotypes to students based on the students’ ethnicity. For example, some minorities may be perceived to have lower academic performance and a higher risk for unruly classroom behavior. If a teacher assumes negative actions from students, it can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which a student attempts to confirm a belief the teacher has. Of course, students can also stereotype teachers based on the teacher’s race, age, or some other metric, and this means that the teacher must work to overcome these preconceived ideas.

Sadly, stereotypes are often confirmed by a student’s behavior. However, there are also times when students disprove a stereotype by their behavior. This idea applies to the teacher, as well.

Selective Perception

Selective perception is the process of removing or ignoring information that we do not want to hear. This is related to stereotyping in that if we are exposed to a person who does not conform to a stereotype we have, we may ignore this information. To make things worst, sometimes people will only see the information that confirms their stereotype of another group.

Returning to the teacher, if a teacher holds a negative stereotype towards a student because of their race or gender and the student disproves this stereotype through permanence, the teacher may ignore this or consider it a fluke. In other words, they have selected to ignore specific information that is contrary to their opinion. This also holds for students when they ignore what they see about a teacher that does not confirm their beliefs.

Perceptual Defense

Perceptual defense is a protection mechanism that people use during times that they are receiving information that is personally threatening or not accepted culturally. Generally, this happens when receiving highly emotional stimuli. This emotional experience can lead people to have false perceptions rather than whatever real stimuli occurred. This can frequently happen when people are arguing. It is common for us to describe what we think someone said rather than what they said.

For the teacher, highly negative classroom management experience can trigger a perceptual defense. If a student is rude or disrespectful, a teacher may exaggerate how bad the behavior was. This is a natural behavior for most people. There are several common defenses people use when confronted with views contrary to their own.

  • Denial-A person may outright deny what happened
  • Modify-People explain away what they said
  • Change perception-People change there about what they experience but in a rather subtle manner.
  • Recognize but refuse to change-People acknowledge the disagreement but stick to their original position

Conclusion

As teachers, we must understand how or perceptions influence our thought process and the judgments we make about others. This is because of the authority that we have over students who may be affected by us if we do not understand them correctly.

Social Perception of Students

Every day a teacher steps into a classroom, they are being judged by their students on many factors. This experience is called social perception. IN this post, we will look at social perception and its role in the classroom.

Social perception is how we interpret the people around us through the impressions we make of these people. Students also develop social perceptions of other students as well as teachers. Several categories in which a teacher is perceived socially and several of them are explained below.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

What a teacher says to students and how they say it is a part of verbal and nonverbal communication. The tone of voice a teacher uses communicates the emotional state of the teacher. For example, if the teacher is yelling, it may indicate anger at the students, while a teacher who speaks in a hesitant tone may communicate a lack of confidence.

The precision of the language indicates to many students the level of professionalism of the teacher. For example, a teacher who uses slang may be trying to encourage an informal atmosphere. In contrast, a teacher’s highly formal use of language may be an attempt to set a serious tone in the classroom. Accent also plays a role, but a teacher will have a more challenging time controlling their accent than the precision and tone of voice.

Nonverbal communication is also critical in maintaining a positive social perception. Smiling vs. frowning is a form of body language. Both of these are appropriate in a specific situation. In addition, such things as posture, eye contact can communicate confidence. A slouching teacher who does not look students in the eye may have a greater difficulty in maintaining authority compared to a teacher with erect posture and strong eye contact. This is especially true when students are disruptive. A teacher needs to look like they are in charge even if the situation is out of control. The calm, confident, steady hand of a firm teacher can prevent a lot of problems.

Assigned Attributes

Some of the interpretations students have of a teacher are made merely from the position of the teacher. For example, the occupation of teacher often has high-status in the eyes of students as the teacher is the direct leader and supervisor of students. As such, students will often treat the teacher differently from the janitor due in part to the teacher’s position in relation to the janitor.

This can even be more complicated. Older teachers or teachers who have been at a school longer also have certain credibility that new teachers have to earn. Students know the more senior teachers personally or have heard of them through friends, and this will often make the teacher’s job easier or harder depending on what the students think of them.

Other Factors

Students own personality influences what they notice. Confident people tend to have a more positive view of others. In addition, students who have a better understanding of themselves are often better able to read others. Lastly, students who are comfortable with themselves are more likely to see other people, such as teachers, positively.

Conclusion

A teacher needs to be aware of how they are perceived by others, even students. This does not mean that a teacher should radically change their approach to please students. Instead, understanding this can help a teacher know their strengths and weaknesses in terms of what the students think.

Titles & Degrees of Early Universities

When universities began to sprout during the Middle Ages any things were not standardized. An example of something that was not standardized was the titles and degrees associated with the completion of one’s studies and working at a university.

As early as the 4th century AD there were people who were claiming academic titles they had not earned. As such schools began to examine the process of what constitutes a degree and how to earn one.

Degree System

The universities loosely copied the guild system used by artisans. In the guild system, it is made up of three levels the apprentice, journeyman, and master. This is what the three tiers of education in universities may be inspired by (Bachelors, Masters, PhD). Bachelor students were called apprentices, masters were called assistants, and PhD were called companions. The word bachelor comes from baccalarius and is loosely translated as an assistant.

The first distinction was made between the bachelor’s degree and the masters and PhD. After this separation, a distinction was made between the master’s degree and PhD. Another degree common during this period and still today in some parts of the world was the licentiate. In some situations, the licentiate was the same as a Master’s degree while in others it was a step above a master’s degree.

Degree Completion

Bachelor’s degrees students often completed their studies in their late teens. This was because for several centuries students started university studies at 12-13 years of age. Eventually, the content of this bachelor was placed at the high school level as educators thought that preteens were too young for higher education.

To complete their degree, a bachelor’s degree student had to study for several years and pass an examination before four professors. If they desired to continue on to the master’s degree, they had to agree to teach for two years while working on the master’s degree. This helped to provide them with practical experience in the art of teaching.

To complete a master’s, a student went through a similar yet more rigorous process to complete the degree. If they desired a doctorate they would teach for several more years while studying. In all, masters could be completed by mid-twenties and a doctorate by early to mid-thirties.

Titles

Upon the completion of studies, there was also confusion over titles. At first, professors, magister, and doctor were all synonyms and these titles were used for people with and without a doctoral degree. Certain disciplines gravitated more towards one title or the other. For example, it was more common to call theology professors doctors compared to the arts.

With time things become more formalized. Now there is a strong distinction between bachelor, master, and doctoral degree. In addition, there is also a clear hierarchy in terms of the titles for professors based on seniority and the highest degree completed. It would be considered strange to call someone with a bachelor’s degree “doctor” in the world today.

Conclusion

Whenever people come together to try and do something there is always some initial confusion. Rules and policies need to be established and people need to determine what is their function within this system. This can also be seen in the growth of the university system of education which has had its own growing pains as well.

Early Universities

Universities have been around under many names for over a Millennium. What they all have in common is a desire to train primarily young adults for scholar and professional service. In this post, we will look at three early medieval universities along with the influence of the Catholic Church in higher education at that time.

Bologna

The school that became the University of Bologna was initially a law school.  There was a need for experts in Roman Law, particularly the Justinian code, due to the influence of the Catholic Church. The school was officially recognized in 1158 by Frederick I.

By the 13th century, there were over 10,000 students. This led to a need for better organization among the students. This was done through the development of organizations that represented students by country of origin. The country representation then joined one of two campus-wide groups. The two main organizations in Bologna were the universitas citranontanorum and universitas ultramontanorum.

With organization began a push for social justice. There was often tension between students and teachers as well as students and the local community. As college kids of today, sometimes the university kids could cause the local community behavioral problems. There were scuffles between students and the local community that were called town and gown riots. “Town” refers to the non-academic and “gown” to students. In other parts of Europe, the fighting could be deadly.

At Bologna, the students pushed for and won the right to be judged by the university for their misdeeds. At this time, there were no official university buildings. This led to classes being held all over the city in random places. If there were any disagreements with the locals the students and or even the teachers would threaten to leave.

Salernum

Salernum was another early university. Some have suggested that it was started in the 9th century. Salernum focused on medicine and was supported by Constantine of Carthage. Constantine was a scholar who studied music,  math, medicine, and even necromancy.

Salernum was also associated with the crusades. The famous Robert de Guiscard, the father of the crusader Bohemond,  supported this institution. Wounded crusaders would visit the school as they returned from battle in the Middle East. As the school grew, eventually students who wanted to practice medicine had to pass a government exam and serve under an experienced doctor for at least one year.

Naples

The school that became the University of Naples was organized in the 13th century as a law school. Naples was originally just several independent schools and teachers who were group together to make one academic community. The word “university” means one community.

By creating a single corporate body it was possible for the government to give privileges to the university such as conferring degrees. This prevented just anyone from starting a university and conferring degrees. Even the title of professor was controlled. A professor was a magister or doctor/teacher while a medicus was a practitioner

Role of the Church

The church was always looking for ways to extend its influence. When teachers, students, and the local community were fighting, the Pope was often serving as an intermediary. This naturally increased the influence and prestige of the papacy.

The church was also eager to recognize universities officially. This was similar to accreditation today and allowed students and teachers to work or study all over Europe at other schools. As such, both sides benefited from this transaction. However, the goal was not so much to asses the quality of the school as it was to gain influence over universities. As such, papal approval did not necessarily mean an excellent school but a school that the church had influence over.

Conclusion

These three universities played a critical role in the development of higher education in Europe, in particular, the continental side. Each school was reacting to the needs of the local community whether that was teaching law medicine or some other subject. The church was aware of the growth of this model of education and was sure to have influence in its development.

Attitudes of Teachers

Some would say that success in the classroom begins in the mind. What and how a teacher thinks about the world around him can play a role in their success as a teacher. It’s within our minds that our attitudes are formed. By attitudes, we are talking about how one thinks or feels about something. What we think about something could have a serious influence on how we do oi ourselves. In this post, we look at several forms of relationships that teachers often develop attitudes about and these are attitudes towards self,  students, peers, and the subject

Towards Self

Teaching is a profession that requires a lot of people skills and extroversion. However, to reach out to others a teacher needs to understand who they are as a person as well. If a teacher does not keep track of their own mental and emotional health it can quickly lead to burnout. This means that a teacher needs to be aware of their own emotions and stress in addition to the needs of the students.

A teacher needs to also reflect on how they are doing in terms of their teaching. There should be an internal desire to improve to help students to be successful. Many teachers neglect this as they focus on the social side of teaching.

Towards Students

What a teacher thinks about other students matters as well. If a teacher believes a student is dumb that students will often find ways to confirm this as stated by the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. However, sometimes a negative view of a student will motivate the student to excel in a desire to prove a teacher wrong. This is generally rare as students tend to succumb to the expectations of those around them.

Similarly, it is important for a teacher to consider their attitude towards parents. Demanding parents can have a negative effect on a teacher that can shape attitudes. The same can also be said of parents who are indifferent to their children’s studies. In both situations, a teacher wants to avoid a negative comment because the attitude you have towards a parent can spill over into the relationship/interaction with the student.

Towards Peers

As with any other institution, schools have people who see things differently. Teachers will sometimes get along and will some times try to undermine each other. There will be disagreements and even fights over the use/allocation of resources, responsibilities, teaching styles, etc. Gossiping and forms of passive backstabbing do occur as well.

It is not all negative. There is laughing and camaraderie, sharing of ideas, and support when there are problems. Through the ups and downs of dealing with other teachers, it is important to try to maintain a positive attitude towards the people around and the institution we are working at.

Towards Subject

It is also important that a teacher show interest and enthusiasm for their subject. This is normally not a problem as a teacher goes to school to learn this subject that they like. However, there are times when a teacher’s attitude towards a subject can become negative. If the teacher is asked to teach something they are not interested in or weak as it could cause a loss of enthusiasm. For example, a music teacher who is asked to cover PE. The music teacher might love music but would lack enthusiasm for PE.

Moving a teacher to a different grade or a subject within their expertise could also lead to this. For example, moving a 2nd-grade teacher to 4th grade my influence enthusiasm or moving a geometry teacher to teaching trigonometry. In both these situations, the teacher is competent for the assignment but not interested.

Lastly, any of the ideas present in the previous sections can influence enthusiasm for the subject. Lack of reflection, bad kids, bad parents, bad peers, can all drain the life of a teacher. This can carry over into the classroom and affect the enthusiasm of a subject that a teacher loves.

Conclusion

Success begins in the mind. For a teacher to be successful they must begin with monitoring their attitudes about themselves and the surrounding people.

Educational Reforms of Charlemagne

After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th-century learning went into a decline at least temporarily. When the chaos of collapse and invasion settled several types of schools emerged. These schools and the curriculum that was a part of them is the focus of this post.

Schools

Charlemagne (748-814) played a major role in reviving learning within Europe. He created Palace Schools to educate members of the Royal court and their children. Charlemagne was also a lover of the arts and incorporated Gregorian chants (worship music) and the organ into worship.

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Charlemagne

In addition to the Palace schools, other schools developed during this period in part through the support of Charlemagne, and they include the Monastery and Episcopal schools. Monastery schools were created primarily for training for future clergy. The training was of a higher standard compared to Episcopal schools. The episcopal schools were for non-clergy and offered an inferior education. Both were frequently located in the same place with the only difference being the quality of the education. Originally anybody could go to the Monastery schools but this changed after the death of Charlemagne.

Curriculum

In terms of instruction, school began when a child was 7 years of age. Reading was learned through first memorizing the alphabet and then memorizing the Latin Psalter. A Psalter was the book Psalms extracted from the Bible. Imagine a child trying to memorize a book with 150 chapters, over 2,400 verse, and over 40,000 words. Of course, understanding does not matter only memorization. As the Psalter was developed for singing so was singing also taught.

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Wax Tablet

Writing was learned through the use of wax-covered tablets. When the child mastered this he would move to pen and paper. This system of writing was used for students to make their own textbooks. Students would write down the message on tablets that were then transferred to parchment.

Grammar was also studied and was considered the queen of the subjects. This is not the grammar of today but one with a slightly different purpose. The grammar of this period is similar to critical thinking and public speaking/communication today. Students learned the art of explanation and persuasion and not so much how to use commas and semicolons.

Latin, the primary language of the Catholic Church, was also studied. It was expected to be the only language used at school but even the teachers lacked the ability to use Latin exclusively. The emphasis was on heavy memorization. Math was studied until the point of learning basic calculations and adjusting the calendar.

Upon graduation job placement was usually predetermined. Graduates of the Palace schools worked in the government. Graduates of the Monastery schools often became monks/priests, and graduates of the Episcopal school did everything else. Even the education represented the 3 estates of Medieval Europe.

Conclusion

The reforms of Charlemagne are really the reestablishing of education in parts of Europe. Once there was some semblance of stability and safety leaders, such as Charlemagne, could focus on other pressing needs of their kingdom.

Common Goals for Schools

All schools have different goals and purposes for their being, In this post, we will look at some of the different goals and views schools have for themselves.

Intellectual

People who see the goal of school as intellectual development believe that the growth of the mind and reason is one of the chief aims of schools. Students who are well-rounded mentally are able to function in various challenges in the real world as people who support an intellectual purpose may say.

The development of the mind often happens through the study of the humanities and the “Great Books” of the past. Since the great books provide examples of the sound reasoning that students need, reading these books will help students to develop their own reason and thinking skills. These beliefs are drawn heavily from perennialism and its focus on the past to prepare students for the present and future.

Economic

The economic view sees school as a place to prepare students for the workforce. This means attaining relevant skills and knowledge for employment in the world. As such, students are trained to competency in various areas that they show at least some interests in such as accounting, plumbing, computer science, etc.

With the focus on job skills and the development of the economy, it is clear that the economic view has less tolerance for the study of “Great Books” compared to the intellectual view of the school. Reading irrelevant classics does not benefit industry and is not necessary. However, developing reason and critical thinking is beneficial to industry and should be encouraged in the context of problem-solving of real-life challenges and not intellectual debates. These views are similar to essentialism and its focus on developing practical skills for the application in the real world.

The economic development view of school seems to be the primary mover in education today. Almost everything is focused on the economy and the need for properly trained workers to help the economy grow. Rarely, does industry mourn the ignorance of its workforce in matters relating to the humanities and arts. For people who are not motivated by money and building the national economy, it can be intolerable to study in such a context.

Social/Character

Others view that the purpose of schools is in helping students to conform to the norms of society. This social view believes that a teacher’s job is to help students to find their place in the social structure. What society wants is what the child should become. This echoes the views at least partially of John Dewey.

This belief can lead to a large amount of social stability but a growing undercurrent of resentment from the pressure to conform. For example, the high conformity of the United States in the 1950s was followed by the rebellious 1960s and ’70s.  In addition, this view is seen by many as being oppressive today. Society now is pushing heavily the idea of inclusion of everyone. This means that all people are accepted as they are and the norm taught today is conformity to tolerance which is now the standard.

A social purpose is also related to political activism in a democratic context. Schools should be seen as places to develop skills in democracy in order to participate in civic life after graduation. This is important because democratic participation is critical to the success of the nation in the minds of many.

A related idea to social development is character development. Character development is focused on having certain traits as an individual. Whereas in secular education these ideas are often called social traits in religious education this concept is frequently known as character. The difference being that social traits and skills can vary whereas character in the religious context is thoroughly defined by some religious text.

Multi-Purpose

It would be naive to say that any school only has one purpose. Rather, schools serve multiple views. The views listed above are present at most schools in one combination or another. For example, some schools may emphasize intellectual views while also considering economic views. Since schools have a diverse student population it makes it necessary to have diverse views for schools.

One of the dangers a school may face is having a view that is out of harmony with the local community. If people want their kids to get jobs and want the school to focus on economic purposes it would be detrimental for the school to focus on other aspects of education as if they know better. Schools are there to serve the needs of the community and need to keep this in mind when supporting students.

Conclusion

Schools are a part of a society to provide a service to the families that make up the society. Therefore, it is not surprising that different schools have different goals for themselves. The primary responsibility of a person should be to identify the local vies on education in order to understand how to function in that particular context.

School as a Socializing Agent: Cultural Preservation

Many would agree that education, as found in schools, as an obligation to socialize students to help them fit into society. With this goal in mind, it is logical to conclude that there will be different views on how to socialize students. The two main extreme positions on this continuum of socialization would be

  • Socializing through the preservation of cultural form on generation to the next
  • Socializing through the questioning of prior norms and pushing for social change

As I have already mentioned, these may be the two extremes on a continuum going from complete and total cultural preservation to complete and total anarchy. In this post, we will focus the discussion on schools as agents of cultural preservation.

School as  Cultural Preserver

In the view of the school as a cultural preserver, the responsibility of the school to society is to support the dominant ideas and views of the culture. This is done through teaching and explaining things from a dominant group’s perspective and excluding or censoring other viewpoints to some degree. In other words, American schools should produce Americans who support and live American values, Chinese schools should produce Chinese who support and live Chinese values, etc.

This approach to schooling has been used throughout history to compel people from minority groups to conform to the views of the dominant group. In the US, there were boarding schools for Native Americans to try to “civilize” them. This was also seen in many parts of Asia in which ethnic tribes were sent to government schools, forbidden to use their mother tongue in place of the national language, and pledge devotion and loyalty to the dominant culture. Through the process of weakening local identities, it is believed by many that it will help to strengthen the state or at least maintain the status quo. If you are in a position of dominance either of these would benefit you.

What this view lacks in diversity, due to minority views being absent, it makes up for it through stability. Schools that support cultural preservation show students their place in society and how to interact with those around them. Through the limits of a specific predefined worldview, it lowers but does not reduce internal social strife.

Problems and Pushback

A natural consequence of schools as cultural preservers is a strong sense of pride in those who belong to the culture that is being preserved. This can lead, at times, to a sense of superiority and pride. Of course, if you are not from the dominant culture, it can be suffocating to constantly have other people’s values and beliefs push upon you.

This sense of exclusion can lead to serious challenges from minority groups. There are countless examples of this in the United States where it seems everyone is pushing back against the establish dominant culture. There are those who are pushing for Black, Latino, Asian, feminist, and other worldviews to be a part of the education of the school. This is not inherently a problem, however, if everyone has an equal voice and everyone is talking at the same time this means that nobody is listening. In other words, a voice needs an ear as much as an ear needs a voice.

Conclusion

It is convenient to take an extreme position and say that using school to preserve culture is wrong. The problem with this is that the people who say this want to preserve the belief that using school to preserve culture is wrong. In other words, it is not the preservation of culture that is the problem. The real battle is over what culture is going to be preserved. Whether it is the current dominant view or the view of a challenger.

From Greek to Roman Education

During the transition from the Greek to the Roman Empire, there were several significant changes to education. In particular, we will look at early financial support, the history of the first university, and the influence of the government during this period.

Financial Support

As time progress, it was becoming common for education to be supported by endowments. Several chairs in rhetoric, politic, and philosophy were established. In addition, the fees students paid in the form of a honoraria was the primary source of income for schools and teachers. It was also common for teachers to fight over students. This happened through teachers sending “recruitment” agents to the ports when young people arrived in order for the agent to advertise whatever courses the teacher taught. The more students in a class the higher the honoraria for a teacher.

First University & Changes

Under the Ptolemies in Egypt was founded what is considered the first university by Western standards. Located in Alexandria, the university offered training in medicine, math, grammar. The teaching here in Alexandria was considered to be more practically focused compare to Athens. The purpose was primarily to train people for economic purpose rather than only for intellectual development.

During the height of the Roman Empire under Augustus, Greek and Roman teaching was combined into something that some called the Roman-Hellenic school. However, how this was done varied between the Eastern and Western halves of the Empire. In general, Rome placed an emphasis on practical things such as law and this was combined with Greek philosophy in terms of the education of students. Philosophy became more and more abstract and less and less practical over this time period as well. As philosophy grew in importance it became more and more of an annoyance for the early Christian church.

Growth of Government

Throughout this time period, the influence of the government became stronger and stronger. This was shown through financial support and prestige. For example, the government would provide funding to build buildings. In addition, at one point, teachers were given senatorial rank for their work. All this was done in order to have influence over the education process and prevent teachers from fomenting rebellion it seems that teachers have frequently sparked revolutionary ideas throughout history.

Despite the efforts of the government, one overarching theme of this time was the gradual and steady decline of education. By the end of the fifth century, which aligns with the collapse of the Western Roman  Empire, the majority of the Roman Hellenic schools were no longer in existence. This laid the foundation for the rise of a new system of education that was at first shunned by Christianity,  then influenced by Christianity, and finally controlled by Christianity.

Conclusion

Over time the structure of education became more formalized. It went from individual teachers providing education to the systematic structure of the university. With this new structure came also various costs that were hard to account for. Strangely enough, as the empire collapse so did education in a way that makes one wonder if the collapse of education was because the Roman Empire was collapsing at the same time.

Issues of Early Christian Education

In this post, we will look at two issues that Christian education had to address during the period of AD 300-900. These two concerns are the debate between Christian learning and Greek thought and the teaching capacity of educational leaders.

Faith & Hellenism

With the growth of the Christian church within the Roman Empire was a corresponding tension between Christian thought and Greek philosophy. Church leaders were split over whether Christians should study Greek thought along with church teachings.

This debate continued and perhaps grew when the Christian church had firm control of education within the empire by the fourth century. In general, the divide over the inclusion of Greek thought in the education process was split between those who said avoid Greek thought and those who said embrace it.

For the anti-Greeks, they had a strong example of what happens when a Christian studies Greek teachings in the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (331-363). Julian’s exposure to the classics of Greek thought (and Neo-Platonism) as a student, led him into outright involvement with mystery cults and magic. To further compound matters, Julian attempted to reestablish paganism as the religion of Rome before his untimely demise at the age of 32. Julian was the last emperor to openly oppose Christianity and his actions were all the evidence anti-Greek Christians had that the writings of Plato and Aristotle should be avoided.

For those who supported the study of ancient Greek writers, their argument rested in caution and temperance when reading the classics. One Christian educator warned against hating worldly sciences and that the ideas of these authors should be supplementary to scripture. Julian’s problem was an intemperate and uncritical study of Plato and his peers.

This debate over faith vs Hellenism has continued for the pass 800-900 years. However, there is not as much objection to studying secular thought as there used to be as Christian education has mostly accepted it with the strong exception of several highly controversial ideas (sexual orientation, creation, etc.).

Teaching

As time continued, monks and priests began to educate the young. Unfortunately,  the education that they provided was considered of low quality as they generally focused only on teaching the trivium (Grammar, logic, and rhetoric) in terms of knowledge. Quadrivium was rarely taught if at all.

In addition, the monks and the priest were in need of education themselves. It was common for these men of faith to a lack of a formal education in the position in which they served the church. As such, they were frequently not much ahead of the students in terms of their learning. This led to a push for formal training and education of priests and monks in the 7th and 8th centuries.

In terms of the teaching style, there was a move from the discussion-oriented style of the Greeks to a focus on memorization. This was not done simply to stifle the critical thinking of the students. Rather, the price of parchment rose drastically during this time period, which made it difficult to write things down. The only way to learn now was to memorize large amounts of material because there was no other cheap way to retain knowledge.

Conclusion

There will always be differences and issues that challenge education. The purpose is to examine how others have addressed problems in order to learn from their successes and failures. To this day, Christian leaders struggle with the role of secular thought tin the education of its members. In addition, there are still issues with the qualifications of teachers and the style of teaching tat is employed. As such, a look to the past will simply confirm that problems never change.

Undergrad and Grad Students

In this post,  we will look at a comparison of grad and undergrad students.

Student Quality

Generally, graduate students are of a higher quality academically than undergrad students. Of course, this varies widely from institution to institution. New graduate programs may have a lower quality of student than established undergrad programs. This is because the new program is trying to fill sears initially and quality is often compromised.

Focus

At the graduate level, there is an expectation of a much more focused and rigorous curriculum. This makes sense as the primary purpose of graduate school is usually specialization and not generalization. This requires that the teachers at this level have a deep expert-level mastery of the content.

In comparison to graduate school, undergrad is a generalized experience with some specialization. However, this depends on the country in which the studies take place. Some countries require rather an intense specialization from the beginning with a minimum of general education while others take a more American style approach with a wide exposure to various fields.

Commitment

Graduate students are usually older. This means that they require less institution sponsored social activities and may not socialize at all. In addition, some graduate students are married which adds a whole other level of complexity to their studies. Although they are probably less inclined to be “wild” due to their family they are also going to struggle due to the time commitment of their loved ones.

Assuming that an undergraduate student is a traditional one they will tend to be straight from high school, require some social support, but will also have the free time needed to study. The challenge with these students is the maturity level and self-regulation skills that are often missing for academic success.

For the teacher, graduate students offer higher motivation and commitment generally when compared to undergrads. This is reasonable as people often feel compelled to complete a bachelors but normally do not face the same level of pressure to go to graduate school. This means that undergrad is often compulsory due to external circumstances while grad school is by choice.

Conclusion

Despite the differences but types of students hold in common an experience that is filled with exposure to various ideas and content for several years. Grad students and undergrad students are individuals who are developing skills for the goal of eventually finding a purpose in the world.

Undergrad and Grad Students

In this post,  we will look at a comparison of grad and undergrad students.

Student Quality

Generally, graduate students are of a higher quality academically than undergrad students. Of course, this varies widely from institution to institution. New graduate programs may have a lower quality of student than established undergrad programs. This is because the new program is trying to fill sears initially and quality is often compromised.

Focus

At the graduate level, there is an expectation of a much more focused and rigorous curriculum. This makes sense as the primary purpose of graduate school is usually specialization and not generalization. This requires that the teachers at this level have a deep expert-level mastery of the content.

In comparison to graduate school, undergrad is a generalized experience with some specialization. However, this depends on the country in which the studies take place. Some countries require rather an intense specialization from the beginning with a minimum of general education while others take a more American style approach with a wide exposure to various fields.

Commitment

Graduate students are usually older. This means that they require less institution sponsored social activities and may not socialize at all. In addition, some graduate students are married which adds a whole other level of complexity to their studies. Although they are probably less inclined to be “wild” due to their family they are also going to struggle due to the time commitment of their loved ones.

Assuming that an undergraduate student is a traditional one they will tend to be straight from high school, require some social support, but will also have the free time needed to study. The challenge with these students is the maturity level and self-regulation skills that are often missing for academic success.

For the teacher, graduate students offer higher motivation and commitment generally when compared to undergrads. This is reasonable as people often feel compelled to complete a bachelors but normally do not face the same level of pressure to go to graduate school. This means that undergrad is often compulsory due to external circumstances while grad school is by choice.

Conclusion

Despite the differences but types of students hold in common an experience that is filled with exposure to various ideas and content for several years. Grad students and undergrad students are individuals who are developing skills for the goal of eventually finding a purpose in the world.

Luther and Educational Reform

Martin Luther (1483-1546) is best known for his religious work as one of the main catalysts for the Protestant Reformation. However, Luther was also a powerful influence on education during his lifetime. This post will take a look at Luther’s early life and his contributions to education

Early Life

Luther was born during the late 15th century. His father was a tough miner with a severe disciplinarian streak. You would think that this would be a disaster but rather the harsh discipline gave Luther a toughness that would come in handy when standing alone for his beliefs.

Upon reaching adulthood Luther studied law as his father diseased for him to become a lawyer. However, Luther decided instead to become a monk much to the consternation of his father.

As a monk, Luther was a diligent student and studied for several additional degrees. Eventually, he was given an opportunity to visit Rome which was the headquarters of his church. However, Luther saw things there that troubled him and in many laid the foundation for his doubt in the direction of his church.

Eventually, Luther had a serious issue with several church doctrines. This motivated him to nail his 95 theses onto the door of a church in 1517. This act was a challenge to defend the statements in the theses and was actually a common behavior among the scholarly community at the time.

For the next several years it was a back forth intellectual battle with the church. A common pattern was the church would use some sort of psychological torture such as the eternal damnation of his soul and Luther would ask for biblical evidence which was normally not given. Finally, in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, Luther was forced to flee for his life and the Protestant Reformation had in many was begun.

Views on Education

Luther’s views on education would not be considered radical or innovative today but they were during his lifetime. For our purposes, we will look at three tenets of Luther’s position on education

  • People should be educated so they can read the scriptures
  • Men and women should receive an education
  • Education  should benefit the church and state

People Should be Educated so they Can Read the Scriptures

The thought that everyone should be educated was rather radical. By education, we mean developing literacy skills and not some form of vocational training. Education was primarily for those who needed it which was normally the clergy, merchants, and some of the nobility.

If everyone was able to read it would significantly weaken the churches position to control spiritual ideas and the state’s ability to maintain secular control, which is one reason why widespread literacy was uncommon. Luther’s call for universal education would not truly be repeated until Horace Mann and the common school. movement.

The idea of universal literacy also held with it a sense of personal responsibility. No one could rely on another to understand scripture. Everyone needs to know how to read and interpret scripture for themselves.

Men and Women Should be Educated

The second point is related to the first. Luther said that everyone should be educated he truly meant everyone. This means men and women should learn literacy. The women could not hide behind the man for her spiritual development but needed to read for herself.

Again the idea of women education was controversial at the time. The Greeks believed that educating women was embarrassing although this view was not shared by all in any manner.

WOmen were not only educated for spiritual reasons but also so they could manage the household as well. Therefore, there was a spiritual and a practical purpose to the education of women for Luther

Education Benefits the Church and the State

Although it was mentioned that education had been neglected to maintain the power of the church and state. For Luther, educated citizens would be of a greater benefit to the church and state.

The rationale is that the church would receive ministers, teachers, pastors, etc. and the state would receive future civil servants. Therefore, education would not tear down society but would rather build it up.

Conclusion

Luther was primarily a reformer but also was a powerful force in education. His plea for the development of education in Germany led to the construction of schools all over the Protestant controlled parts of Germany. His work was of such importance that he has been viewed as one of the leading educational reformers of the 16th century.

Education During the Reformation

By the 16th century, Europe was facing some major challenges to the established order of doing things. Some of the causes of the upheaval are less obvious than others.

For example, the invention of gunpowder made knights useless. This was significant because now any common soldier could be more efficient and useful in battle than a knight that took over ten years to train. This weakened the prestige of the nobility at least temporarily while adjustments were made within the second estate and led to a growth in the prestige of the third estate who were adept at using guns.

The church was also facing majors issues. After holding power for almost 1000 years people began to chaff at the religious power of Europe. There was a revival in learning that what aggressively attacked by monks, who attacked the study of biblical languages accusing this as the source of all heresies.

The scholars of the day mock religion as a superstition. Furthermore, the church was accused of corruption and for abusing power. The scholars or humanists called for a return to the Greek and Romans classics, which was the prevailing worldview before the ascension of Catholicism.

Out of the chaos sprang the protestant reformation which rejects the teachings of the medieval church. The Protestants did not only have a different view on religion but also on how to educate as we shall see.

Protestant Views of Education

A major tenet of Protestantism that influenced their view on education was the idea of personal responsibility. What this meant was that people needed to study for themselves and not just listen to the teacher. In a spiritual sense that meant reading the Bible for one’s self. In an educational sense, it meant confirming authority with personal observation and study.

Out of this first principal springs two other principles which are education that matches an individual’s interest and the study of nature. Protestants believed that education should support the natural interest and ablities of a person rather than the interest of the church.

This was and still is a radical idea. Most education today is about the student adjusting themselves to various standards and benchmarks developed by the government. Protestants challenged this view and said education should match the talents of the child. If a child shows interest in woodworking teach this to him. If he shows interest in agriculture teach that to him.

To be fair, attempts have been made in education to “meet the needs” of the child and to differentiate instruction. However, these goals are made in order to take a previously determined curriculum and make it palpable to the student rather than designing something specifically for the individual student. The point is that a child is more than a cog in a machine to be trained as a screwdriver or hammer but rather an individual whose value is priceless.

Protestants also support the study of nature. Be actually observing nature it reduced a great deal of the superstition of the time. At one point, the religious power of Europe forbade the study of human anatomy through the performing autopsies. In addition, Galileo was in serious trouble for denying the geocentric model of the solar system. Such restrictions stalled science for years and were removed through Protestantism.

Conclusion

The destabilization that marks the reformation marks a major break in history. With the decline of the church came the rise of the common man to a position of independent thought and action. These ideas of personal responsibility came from the growing influence of Protestants in the world.