Is an education conducted in a traditional school environment ultimately a humanizing or dehumanizing endeavor? Do the costs of education— the scars and wounds it leaves on our bodies, our cultures, and our minds— outweigh the benefits, or vice versa?
This is a formal academic essay that is mostly based on your unique and interpretative reading of one (or more) of the texts that we have read in class. This is your chance to “make a mark on the text” as Bartholomae and Petrosky would say. I expect you to have a conversation with the authors in this section (hooks, Rodriguez) and formulate an opinion which they will vouch for. You must use their words to support and bolster your own personal main claim. Please use the outline provided to begin to structure your thoughts before writing the essay.
Defining Humanizing and Its Relationship to Schooling
It is difficult to define the parameters or the very meaning of humanizing experience, but if the same has to be put into words, it can be defined as such an experience which allows the person to reach the highest point by being associated to something. A humanized experience is about getting the best possible treatment. In the tradition schools, if a student is given the best treatment taught the best and is treated in a manner which builds up their confidence is something which would present a humanizing experience to the students (Dutton, 79). However, the traditional school environment of the present time is more of a dehumanizing endeavor (Armstrong, 2011). This is due to the reason that the benefits of the traditional schools, at the present time, are being outweighed. When the student has to face wounds and scars, coupled with mental pressure, the experience becomes dehumanizing (Novotney, 36). In the following parts, an attempt has been made to highlight the dehumanizing experience being presently faced in the traditional school environment.
Reading is something which is taught at the traditional schools and it involves a considerable amount of pushing and shoving. For creating a book, the book is marked and reading the same, leaves a mark on the students. Even though by reading, the student gains new knowledge and experiences of the author, but it is a paradox. Reading requires an adequate mix of humility and authority. There is a need to go inside the head of the author to understand the words written there. And in the traditional schooling, the reading is given as an assignment, where the student is required to read the text and think in the same way as the author was thinking, whilst writing the material. But this acts a restriction to the otherwise creative mind of the students. A student may have a different view or may not have the same understanding as that of the writer, to fully understand the magnitude or the meaning of what has been written by the author. Reading also presents a difficulty for the students belonging to different cultural backgrounds, to fully fathom the words and the meaning which the author wants to convey across. This creates an added layer of pressure on the students, which beats the very purpose of improving the knowledge of the students (Bartholomae and Petrosky, 1-15).
The schools also put a pressure on the students to strictly adhere to a schedule, which often becomes as a reason for pressure on the students. The article of Charters defined the schedule of a girl. This girl has been described to following a particular schedule, where the white color clothes have to be washed on Monday and the colored clothes had to be washed on Tuesday. The former had to be put on stone heap and the latter to be placed on the clothesline (Kincaid, 320-321). Such strict school schedules are a part of traditional schools which have also limited the learning of the schedules. As per the study which had been conducted back in 2000, only five percent of the children could retain what they had heard in their lecture. However, in the study conducted where flexible classrooms were present, the retention amongst the students increased to 85 percent (Learning Liftoff, 2016).
Wounds and Scars: The Costs of Traditional Schooling
Another problem in the traditional schools, which turns out to be a dehumanizing experience for the children is the desire of achieving more and more. Rodriguez (2002) denoted the story of a girl, where upon the guest speaker reaching the class, a single girl was enthusiastic, and kept nodding eagerly and taking notes. But is this behavior really the marking criteria of the success of students? Or has the traditional schooling inculcated the habit of nodding and taking notes as a measure of showing interest and attendance. A key example of this is the problem that the students of culturally different backgrounds face. This habit is often adopted by the students who could barely speak in English, as this practice is able to stop them being pointed for not understanding the matters, and thus saving them from the fear of being pressurized to stand in front of the class and asked to pay more attention. And even once the child is able to learn a particular aspect, the other aspect is imposed on the children. Apart from this, the traditional schools adopt the criteria of high marks as the measure of the success of a student, but is this really the right measure? The adequacy of academic advancement is also in question. The high marks cannot guarantee the success and a scholarship boy is not necessarily going to succeed (Rodriguez, 604-619).
The traditional schooling also has formed such an aura and such conceptions about them, that the new joiners are often scared and anxious about joining the school. For instance, for a southern black girl, who belonged to a small town of Kentucky, when had to attend Stanford University, was not only frightened, but was also utterly painful for her. Even though her parents had been very happy about her joining the university; however, this view was not shared by the girl. There was almost biasness in that place due to the class differences, which no one seemed to talk about or address. There was a class background and class allegiance and even though the girl could take a different direction, owing to the pressure of conforming to the radical and chic attitude of the class, she chose to stick with this cultural biasness. The class allegiance and the revolutionary commitments disturbed the intellectual radicals as they talked about the transformation of the society and to end the dominance on the basis of class, sex, race and could not break the behavioral patterns which could perpetuate and reinforce the domination, or could continue to use the single reference point of the manner in which the people dominated. The academic setting created a false dichotomy suggesting that the intellectuals and academics could only speak to each other, and not to the masses. The language and behavior is a key contradiction for the radical intellectuals, especially the ones who are oppressed groups members, who have to constantly confront and take steps to resolve the issues. Amongst the present and clear dangers is moving out of the class of origin, the collective ethnic experience, and also entering the hierarchical institutions which reinforce the domination on daily basis, based on the class, race and sex. The same kind of differentiation is also present at Yale, where there is a marked differentiation between the black folks who identify them with Yale and the ones, who even though work with Yale, identify themselves with street (Hooks, 73-83).
In short, the traditional school environment puts forward a dehumanizing endeavor for the students, which results in its benefits being outweighed by its costs and painful experiences. Even though education is a practice of freedom, and does not force fragmentation or separation, the aim of bringing everyone together is not being fulfilled in the present day traditional schooling, owing to the cultural difference being propagated, not only at the school levels, but the higher education as well, including for the premiere institutes like Yale and Stanford. The students are forced to perform well and keep up appearances, forced to follow a monotonous schedule, which does not guarantee the real learning. The real purpose of education is not met and the pressure created in these circumstances is a dehumanizing experience for the students as they are not treated in the manner they should be.
Armstrong, Thomas. The Dehumanization of Learning in Today’s Educational Climate. Feb. 2011. https://www.institute4learning.com/2011/02/17/the-de-humanization-of-learning-in-todays-educational-climate/
Bartholomae, David and Petrosky, Anthony. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002, pp. 1-15.
Dutton, F. Vivian. “Humanizing Education: A Simple Definition.” Kappa Delta Pi Record, vol. 12, no. 3, 2016, https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00228958.1976.10516924.
Hooks, Bell. “Keeping Close to Home: Class and Education.” Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black, vol. 33, no. 1, 1989, pp. 73-83.
Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Story and its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. 6th ed., Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.
Learning Liftoff. Do Strict School Schedules Limit Learning?. April. 2015. https://www.learningliftoff.com/do-strict-school-schedules-limit-learning/#.WXwUvYSGPIV
Novotney, Amy. “Students under pressure.” Monitor on Psychology, vol. 45, no. 8, 2014.
Rodriguez, Richard. “Richard Rodriguez.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers, edited by David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, 6th ed., Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002, 604-619.
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