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Education: Skills vs. Values

  • Date Submitted: 04/06/2010 10:42 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 55.4 
  • Words: 667
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For years, schools have been treading on a fine line when it comes to the decision of teaching skills or teaching morals to their pupils. The parents, the media, and communities have tried to influence student education in order to present society with prepared and intelligent individuals. In Francine Prose’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read” she writes a criticism of how the required readings in an English class are being taught to students in high school may prevent individuals from keeping interest in literature. Schools no longer are teaching their students knowledge to prepare them for their future, but instead, are teaching them values and ethics to create individuals who can make the right choices.
Prose mentions several major pieces of literature, two of which I have read, including “The Catcher in the Rye”, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, and “The Great Gatsby”, and several others. Of the two I have read, my class had not examined the sentence structure or the words the author had chosen to use. We only discussed the moral, cultural, or ethical reasons the author had to write the story. For example, while reading “The Catcher in the Rye” my class focused on the similarities between the main character and the author. This was, in no way, beneficial to my future or that of my class mates. This correlates to an observation of Prose’s, “Only rarely do teachers propose that writing might be worth reading closely. Instead, students are informed that literature is principally a vehicle for the soporific moral blather they suffer daily from their parents” (Prose 93).
On the other hand, in James Baldwin’s “A Talk to Teachers” he talked about how the purpose of education is to create a person who can make educated decisions in their future (Baldwin 124). Maybe by reading and learning about ethics this goal can be achieved, but if the purpose of literature, art, and facts is to question the world around us, why focus on the basics of social...


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