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A Critique of the Educational System and Theodore R. Sizer’ Influence Essay Sample

A Critique of the Educational System and Theodore R. Sizer’ Influence Pages
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Theodore R. Sizer has contributed a fine critique of the educational system with Horace’s Compromise. When the dynamic figure of the educational reform passed away, Margalit Fox wrote “Theodore R. Sizer, one of the country’s most prominent education-reform advocates, whose pluralistic vision of the American high school helped shape the national discourse on education and revise decades-old ideas of what a school should be.” In Horace’s Compromise he sets out to study what is worth knowing and how the process of teaching can be improved. While searching for these answers Sizer recognizes a bigger problem regarding teaching methods, which are being repressed from the standardization of the curriculum. This in turn manifests a multitude of issues between the students and the system. He discovers a disconnection between students regarding what and how they learn within the American educational school system. He seeks to find the contributing factors, which create the assembly-line style of educating adolescents in order to reform the system. The contents involve researching, first hand, the students and teachers routines, which contribute to the educational format.

He investigates the students, the program, the teachers, the overall structure of the entire system and how it can be improved. Sizer immediately recognizes an issue within the educational system regarding the process of standardization and the affect upon teachers and students. Sizer visits various schools across America recognizes that standardization is creating an industrial style process of educating. The time slots are too compact for the teachers to pay detailed attention to every individual, in turn the students may not receive as much attention. “He will compromise by spending no more than ten minutes’ preparation time, on average, per class.” (“Horace is uneasy with this compromise but feels he can live with it.) Sizer exemplifies his concern with standardization of education. In order to follow the curriculum and make sure every student meets the requirements and receive their credit, there needs to be a trade off somewhere, the result is cutting out the element of personalization. Standardized curriculums manifest other issues regarding the student’s attention.

Steven Stecklow acknowledged Dr. Sizer in the Wall Street Journal and his contribution to the 800 plus network of schools, since 1984, that have implemented his effort to reform the educational system with “his “Common Principles” of education, stressing deeper, more self-directed learning to get students to think critically.” It is difficult for the students to piece together random and different information which they receive every hour. Perhaps there should be more flow in the educational system so that it becomes less of a regurgitation of knowledge and more of a critical analysis while connecting information. Sizer notices the students listening to the lectures, looking bored, obtain parts of it and cease to connect the facts or apply critical thinking from one subject upon another. Sizer identifies the American high school students as “often docile, compliant, and without initiative.” A lack of critical thinking is a result of the standardized curriculum, this in turn creates for another problem: a passive mind.

The American school system as Sizer identifies “value strictly orderly thinking.” The systematic structure of education, from a day-to-day basis to the end goal, has become a process of getting from point A to point B without being over-challenged. Standardized curriculums result in the teachers focusing on the student getting the correct answer, rather than the reasoning of how the student arrived to that answer in order to move onto the next problem within the appropriate time. Sizer states “ schools that always insist on the right answer, with no concern as to how a student reaches it, smother the student’s efforts to becomes an effective intuitive thinker. “ Sizer identifies that teachers need to encourage and implement critical thinking into the curriculum to change passive minds, in order to reform the system. To encourage critical thinking is hardly an unreasonable goal. Toch agrees with Sizer as his main goal for schools “to be about teaching students mental skills, like independent and creative thinking. Students’ curiosity should drive the curriculum.

In-depth projects should replace standardized testing. And single-subject teaching ought to be abandoned in favor of interdisciplinary study.” The way Sizer conveys this issue in Horace’s Compromise is evidently a main critique and solution to reform the educational system. It is important to analyze the ideas of Sizer’s reform and compare it with the main goals of the American educational system. The general primary goals for the educational system are to create productive, knowledgeable, and decent citizens. To investigate the primary goals, Sizer questions “how are values taught? Teaching virtues like tolerance and generosity is neither easier nor more difficult than teach any subtle art, such as literary grace, or musical style.” Sizer speaks of tolerance and attitudes, which dictate values, and insists that it is crucial to explain why the schools hold certain values.

In each school a different level of tolerance is evident, but with all schools Sizer sees that in exchange for credits, the students agree to behave within the schools conduct, this in turn creates for a passive student who are not “hungry” for learning. The students have an agreement with the school, they act accordingly and attend class in return the teachers reward them with a credit, with the end goal: the high school diploma, along the way learning how to be a proper citizen. Everything from the agreed upon code of conduct to the 52 minute time blocks become an anesthetic for developing critical minds. Sizer discovers that the emphasis of learning depends on the teaching methods. The process needs to shift from content to context. The teaching methods are ultimately the only factor that will influence reforming the system and that standardization is limiting and repressing the teachers and students.

The theme of rushing disorganized facts of information upon the students the teachers need to take a step back and slow down and focus on the idea of “less is more.” Sizer poses a reasonable critique of the American educational system and acknowledges the industrialized style of educating needs to be reformed. Sizer is difficult to critique because even as this book was written 28 years ago, the same underlying dilemma remains within the system today. What Sizer missed to contribute in Horace’s Compromise was that teachers need to be able to adapt to the changing curriculum while simultaneously, adapting to the adolescents as well. Horace’s Compromise while ending on a positive and encouraging note continues to be an influential book in educational criticism. Acknowledging Dustin A. Peter’s review on Horace’s Compromise, “I hope that more practitioners get involved in the world beyond their school, as Sizer recommends.” Sizer’ research to the educational system has been influential and inspiring to academics. It is possible Sizer’ research holds an infinite impact of possibilities in effort to better construct and reform the educational system, to benefit teachers, in turn students receiving better education.

Bibliography

Dustin, Peters, A. “Horace’s Compromise (Book).” Educational Leadership 42, no. 8 (May 1985): 82. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 2, 2012) Retrieved from May 1, 1985, http://smuport.smu.ca/tag.7995f7026fc2b3d9.render.userLayoutRootNode.uP?uP_root=root&uP_sparam=activeTab&activeTab=u5798l1s209&uP_tparam=frm&frm=frame (accessed November 2, 2012).

Fox, Margalit. Theodore R. Sizer, Leading Education-Reform Advocate, Dies at 77 (New York, New York: The New York Times, 2009 ). Retrieved from (Fox 2009 )http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/education/23sizer.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Sizer, Theordor. R. Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984. Stecklow, Steven. Critical Thought: Acclaimed Reforms Of U.S. Education Are Popular but Unproved — Ted Sizer’s Methods Stress Reasoning Over Rote; Gains Aren’t Measurable — Ambiguity and Faculty Spats (New York, New York: The Wall Street Journal, 1994). Retrieved from http://library.smu.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.library.smu.ca:2048/docview/398466284?accountid=13908 Thomas, Toch. “Schools that Work.” U.S.News & World Report, Oct 07,1996. 58-64. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/274847247?accountid=13908.

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[ 1 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 18 [ 2 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). [ 3 ].
Steve Stecklow, Critical Thought: Acclaimed Reforms Of U.S. Education Are Popular but Unproved — Ted Sizer’s Methods Stress Reasoning Over Rote; Gains Aren’t Measurable — Ambiguity and Faculty Spats (New York, New York: The Wall Street Journal, 1994). [ 4 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 53-55 [ 5 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 107 [ 6 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 18 [ 7 ]. Toch, Thomas, and Missy Daniel. “Schools that work.” U.S. News & World Report 121, no. 14 (October 7, 1996): 58. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 2, 2012). [ 8 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 134 [ 9 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 54 [ 10 ]. Theordor. R Sizer, Horace’s Compromise: The Delemma of the American High School (Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984). 59 [ 11 ]. Peters A. Dustin, “HORACE’S Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School (Book),” Horace’s Compromise (Book)., May 1, 1985, http://smuport.smu.ca/tag.7995f7026fc2b3d9.render.userLayoutRootNode.uP?uP_root=root&uP_sparam=activeTab&activeTab=u5798l1s209&uP_tparam=frm&frm=frame (accessed November 2, 2012).

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