Education plays a crucial role in civilization of any given society. Many societies across the world have used education to achieve tremendous development. From the historical time, there has been apprentice education system then the formal education which is characterized by people attending schools to be educated. However, this milestone did not come easily to certain people because of the political, ideological and social standings that preceded formal education. Some people were denied education because they were slaves. Others believed that they were superior to some people and therefore education was a preserve of their class only. Political views came later to define how people were accessing education, especially in societies where slavery was the norm. Slave owners feared that educating their slaves would amount to emancipating them from slavery. This paper discusses society and schooling analyzing how political economy and ideology relate to schooling.
According to McLaren (1999), the development of any society is direct product of the value attached to schooling activities in that society. A number of achievements in many areas including politics, philosophy, arts and technology are the result of education gained in schools. Educated society is enlightened society and this explains the reason why some societies are far much civilized than others. It is because they appreciated the nuggets of education far much earlier and embraced them. This paper discusses education in society and analyzes how this education came into being, where it is today, while relating it to a personal experience.
Relationship between Political Economy, Ideology and Schooling
Political economy is made up of several structures that form a society. An important aspect in understanding the political economy of education is that change in any of its structures affects other elements. Ideology, on the other hand, refers to ideas that are exhibited by a society or a group of people within a society. Schooling ideology can be seen as an interpretive tool through which the society looks at its experience in order to plan for future activities. According toBowles & Gintis (2002), ideology in schooling includes beliefs, value systems and understanding of a society. The ideologies that exist in a particular society may not be satisfactory to all individuals in that society. One reason why this may be the case is because most of the time ideologies in a society are controlled by those who derive power, good and prestige from social organization structures.
Schooling, on its part, plays an important role in enhancing the ideologies of a society. It also enhances political economy through emphasizing on the cultural, social, education, political and economic circumstances that certain classes of people wish to perpetuate. As a result, there is an intertwinement of political economy, ideology and schooling. The three are in a mutual relationship where each depends on the other.
For example, I have come to realize that it may be easier to perpetuate the ideology of universal medical services through system of public financing as expounded in healthcare reforms through schools. On the margins I have heard the proponents of these reforms campaigning for this ideology on the basis that it can serve the best interest of that the people. Nevertheless, after clear examination, I have realized that the ideology has some political and economic aspect in it that can allow the politicians to use it against their opponents. Similarly, I agree with Bowles & Gintis (2002) who noted that the missing link is that this reform is not inculcated in the education that the society receives.
Applicability of Jeffersonian Ideal to my Education Experience
Jeffersonian ideal of education is an expository of various theories concerning education and learning in a society. For instance, Jefferson opinioned that those things that are seen, heard and read become an integral part of, a human being, especially if a human being is exposed to them early in life. This is so much applicable to my case, since my experience in learning has greatly been determined by everything that I have come along in my life; that is, my ability to relate my past experiences, my thoughts, as well as the facts that I have known about the challenges that I face in my life (Spargana, 2011).
Jeffersonian ideal has also enabled me to utilize the knowledge I have developed over the past to critically analyze events, issues and ideologies in my society today. For example, I have come to appreciate the role played by the recorded information contained in books and other informational tools in understanding the present state of the society. Jeffersonian ideal has thus enabled me to view education as a well-organized activity of learning that compares past experiences with the present activities to deduce well-informed conclusions.
An Issue Relating to my Educational Experience from Past to Present (Slavery)
I am African-American, thus, my shaky educational background is without any doubt linked to slavery which had direct effect on my ancestral genealogy up to my maternal grandmother. My ancestors lived at a time when formal education was a prestige to most of African-American people. Most of my ancestors were slaves owned by their masters and therefore they did not have an opportunity to access formal education because it was, to a larger extent, a reserve of the whites. The blacks were supposed to remain in homes and work in farms while the whites went to schools to learn. This kind of treatment was a social ideology that was perpetuated by the whites who believed that educating slaves would amount to giving them the right to demand freedom.
However, with increased challenge to civilization, my immediate grandparents, just like other blacks, step by step began gaining their freedom from their slave master. They therefore had the privilege of accessing formal elementary education after abolition of slavery. That is, segregation still abounded and education facilities were granted on a racial basis. However, just like other people whose ancestors underwent discrimination during slavery period, I have found education to be an important tool that can provide equal power and democracy to challenge the ideologies that are still harbored by some communities. It is also sad that some people have not yet accessed elementary education because of poverty and lack of support as a result of this past history.
Educational Experience in the Light of Horace Mann’s Ideas
Horace Mann’s ideas in education were based on removal of ignorance from all public schools and that education in public schools should be paid for. Mann argued that the education provided in schools should embrace all children from a variety of backgrounds. However, this important aspect of education had not been yet fully picked up in many places as witnessed during my schooling. For instance, certain schools still do not allow the admission of either white or black pupils. Though a good proportion of schools do, there are still great restrictions, making it had for the blacks to get admission in certain schools perceived to be for whites.
Another reason why my educational experience would not have been approved by Horace is that the modern education, which I attended, is not fully non-sectarian as he advocated for. Most of the political subjects tend to focus on a certain ideology, especially if it serves the interests of the political class. Contrary to this, Horace had visualized a form of education that is whole and can help to form a formidable society with unified views. Since the society is not fully liberalized from masters, the form of education given to people and therefore that which I attained could not have been approved by Horace.
Another important articulation of Mann’s ideas on education was the aspect of professionalism, better learning and well-paid teachers. This aspect is lacking in some schools I attended because of open segregation which saw people of color being discriminated against. Many of us had to attend schools with insufficient facilities as well as very low ratio of teacher to student.
Basis for my Philosophy of Education
I believe that education is one of the most important necessities that people of all social status must have access to. The government, as custodian of the society’s interest, has a responsibility to ensure that primary education is provided to its people regardless of any characteristics that are unique with this group.
In conclusion, education should be a way of bringing children from all backgrounds in an effort of bridging the gap between people in the same society. In addition, education should be used as a major tool in driving development of civilization in different communities.