Literature Review on the Views About Deeper Student Education

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Just like former president Obama said in his speech “President Obama’s Remarks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce”: “The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens” (Obama 2), the quality of our education connects closely to the future of our nation. But education has always been a spot of dispute for different people. How should we educate our children? Some people pay attention to the utilitarian aspect of education—getting a degree and applying for a good job. And they would hence argue that a good education should focus on passing students with the knowledge and skills to prepare them for a good career. But some others disagree. They seek higher purposes in our education and therefore would argue that a good education, besides teaching knowledge, should also provide students with personal and mental growth that can be beneficial in the long-run.

Therefore, it’s important for us to discuss the question of “Should our education care for the whole development of students or should we not waste our resources and focus on passing students with their career’s essential knowledge?” To analyze this question, I will reference three authors in my discussion.

The first one is Jiddu Krishnamurti, who argues that real education is far from just passing knowledge, but it is to bring a change in students’ mind and help them to think critically and be intelligent.

The second author is Eleanor Roosevelt, who argues that good education needs to not only pass knowledge, but more importantly by passing these knowledges to teach students about good citizenship.

The third author is Frank Bruni, who argues that the utilitarian aspects of education should really be the focus and concern of our education due to the increasingly competitive job market and the huge cost of higher education.

First of all, Jiddu Krishnamurti, in his article “On education”, argues that true education needs to do a lot more than just passing students with knowledge. He first points out that knowledge and intelligence are two very different things. He said in his article: “So there is knowledge, which is the past continually being added to, and there is intelligence…the quality of the mind that is very sensitive, very alert, very aware (Krishnamurti 2)”.

He explained that intelligence is the state of your mind, the capability of your brain to understand knowledge in whole, to make judgement about knowledges. Intelligence helps you acquire knowledge, uses knowledge. And Krishnamurti argues that intelligence, to cultivate a student’s intelligence is what our education, our teachers should aim for, not to merely give students knowledge. Becasue, as he explained, “If you have no intelligence, no sensitivity, then knowledge can become very dangerous. It can be used for destructive purposes (Krishnamurti 3)”. “Someone may have good knowledge of mathematics or engineering” (Krishnamurti 3), but that does not necessarily mean that he has intelligence, and without which, someone would not be capable of utilizing the knowledge fully or exploring it further.

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So that’s why Krishnamurti thinks that our education should cultivate intelligence. But what’s more, he argues that education should also be about cultivating individuality and critical thinking in someone’s mind and teach students to lead a life not to conform. As what he argued previously, he thinks that part of knowledge is a repeat to the past, so that mere teaching of knowledge to students can lead them to be educated to conform, and according to him, that’s what’s happening throughout the world, in Russia, China or in America(Krishnamurti 1) … And that’s not what he sees in true education. As he said: “We have to find out what it means never to conform and what it means to live without fear. This is your life, and nobody is going to teach you, no book, no guru (Krishnamurti 1)”. He argues that a true education needs to also teach students how to think critically and how to live without conforming.

Secondly, Eleanor Roosevelt, in his article “Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education”, argued that the true purpose of good education should be to produce good citizens, although unlike Krishnamurti, he thinks that this goal can be best achieved through teaching of knowledges and studying in schools. So, what does Roosevelt means by good citizenship and why is it important in education? As Roosevelt argued in his article: “Learning to be a good citizen is learning to live to the maximum of one’s abilities and opportunities (Roosevelt 3)”.

He referred to an explanation provided by Theodore Roosevelt and explains that “citizenship means more than the privilege of living under the Stars and Stripes (America)” (Roosevelt 1), but also means to be responsible for the country’s policies and activities, to pay a “service” to the country which comes along with the privileges. And therefore, to be a good citizen means to fulfill one’s own potential, to be the best one is capable of being, and then repay the country for the privileges one has received. And that’s what Roosevelt is seeking in good education, to produce good citizens, and to make a country strong as well as the people in that country.

And that is why he argues that the true purpose of education is to produce good citizens. But how does Roosevelt think our education can arrive at such goal? As he argues in his article, Students can acquire knowledge of becoming a good citizen in education by learning from different disciplines of knowledge. Roosevelt asserts that the best discipline in which students can learn to be a good citizen is history. In history, as he explains, students will look at the past of other counties, as well as ours, to study their “life and growth”, culture and economy, their people and customs (Roosevelt 2). And with these knowledges they’ve learned, they will start to build their own perspective and opinion on our society and government, thus laying the foundation of good citizens. And not just history, other disciplines as well. Roosevelt argues that “the power of concentration and accuracy” we learn from Latin and Mathematics, the insights into labor and capital we gain from Mathematics and Humanity (Roosevelt 3) for example can all be invaluable assets in finding students’ potential and help them to become better citizens.

Although Krishnamurti and Roosevelt are all seeking a higher purpose than mere teaching of knowledge in education, their ideas are actually very different from each other. One important idea in Krishnamurti’s article is that a true education would teach someone not to conform, to live independent and away from society. On the other hand, however, Roosevelt actually thinks that a true education should teach someone to become a better citizen, to connect closer and involve better in the society. I think what Krishnamurti’s idea focuses on is a kind of personal and inner growth. He wants education to help students to be critical and independent, and to grow both mentally and spiritually. But what Roosevelt’s idea focuses on is the ability for individuals to connect better with the society.

And lastly, Frank Bruni, in his article “The imperiled Promise of College”, argued that today’s universities might not have much room to include “deeper education” in their curriculum because of how imperiled the promise of higher education is. As Bruni illustrates in his article, due to different factors such as higher cost, lower unemployment opportunities, and tougher competition, students are under much more pressure, at much higher risk and with less secured payoff to attend college. Bruni has made these factors all very evident. As Bruni said: “Because of levitating costs, college these days is a luxury item.

What’s more, it’s a luxury item with newly uncertain returns (Bruni 1)”. Under above circumstances, they will naturally be more concerned about the utilitarian benefits of education, something more immediate, more rewarding in the short-term. More specifically, they will want to be learning practical career knowledge to get a better job rather than spending time on a lecture about life and critical mind, and therefore so would the universities, adjusting to what students need. And that’s why Bruni would disagree with Krisnamurti and Roosevelt and argue that practical knowledge should be our education focus.

Bruni’s standpoint is apparently very different from the two authors before him. But Bruni’s idea on education doesn’t contradict very strongly with that of Roosevelt’s. Although they think of different purposes on education, they both still agree that teaching knowledge should still be the primary goal and primary form of education.

On the other hand, Krishnamurti might disapprove Bruni’s idea greatly. First, Krishnamurti thinks that education should be really about development of intelligence which is more important than knowledge. Secondly, Krishnamurti doesn’t think very highly of conforming to society which means that he wouldn’t probably agree to bend down under social pressure to give up on “deeper education”.

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