Trends and Issues in Education
This was the first course I took in my masters program, back in Fall 2005. The course description is straightforward enough, if a little redundant considering the course’s name: “Examination of contemporary trends and issues in education.”
In practice, the course was very squarely centered on public, K-12 education. It dealt principally with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate, and on teacher pay. The instructor for my course section was a high school English teacher, and a majority of the students in the course were public school teachers, as well. Since I’m not a public school teacher, and not planning on becoming one, I didn’t really derive the same sort of benefit from the course that others may have – I remember several evenings when the class spent considerable time sharing “war stories” about classroom/faculty experiences, like having to come in to work before 7 a.m. to print course materials before the students began arriving.
In a sense though, I did still gain from the course, in that I was introduced to the sorts of questions that shape our expectations of education, and our plans for achieving our goals. A plan like NCLB is only possible with a distinct idea of what skills and knowledge are to be gained in school, and metrics must be created for measuring successful outcomes. Those are subjective determinations, though, so the discussion is necessarily a political one.
So what was my take-away value from the course? As much as many of the authors I read in this course would disagree, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to approach education. Some methodologies may have more or less successful outcomes, but even the outcomes we should be aiming for are open to debate. That’s applicable to public or private K-12 education, higher learning, or any other venue.
It took some digging around (this class was four years ago), but I found a couple of reading responses I submitted for this course. One’s a response to something we read by Alfie Kohn, and the other’s a response to Brian Crosby’s The $100,000 Teacher.