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A Place Called School Chapter 2

In Chapter 2 Goodlad addresses the umbrella topic of what expectations we have for our schools. He begins by taking issue with the idea that parents are in fact dissatisfied with their children’s schools or that they want schooling to take a limited educational role, and he introduces data to support his views. Based on information acquired in “A Study of Schooling”, he describes four areas of goals for schools – academic, vocational, social and civic, and personal and uses statistics to demonstrate that teachers, students, and parents find all four areas important. Goodlad then describes the ways in which the relationship between early educational institutions (home, church, and school) has changed, and he describes the growing educational influence of the press, peer groups, and electronic media. In addition, he calls attention to the increased educational expectations brought about by industrialization, immigration and urbanization. He writes of the heightened post –1954 challenge of making sure there is open access to education and that the education provided is of high quality. Ultimately he writes quite critically of the lack of clarity and emphasis in federal, state, and district mandates to schools, and he provides a list of goals for schools arising from inquiries that were a part of A Study of Schooling. He criticizes the lack of an educational agenda and sets forth one of his own.

Key Passages:
“Our expectations for schools are both idealistic and grandiose, representing a synthesis of what many diverse segments of our population want. This is one of the problems of schools; there are so many expectations for them. Some of these are met through private schools, some through specialized academic or vocational public schools. But central to our tradition is the idea and ideal of a free public school, available to all, commonly educating – the common school” (p. 34).

“We concluded that four broad areas of goals for the schools have emerged. They are the following: (1) academic, embracing all intellectual skills and domains of knowledge; (2) vocational, geared to developing readiness for productive work and economic responsibility; (3) social and civic, related to preparing for socialization into a complex society; and (4) personal, emphasizing the development of individual responsibility, talent, and free expression” (p. 37).

“One development peculiar to the twentieth century was the idea that education in schools should develop individuals for their own sake” (p .44).

“Two prerequisites stand out as essential for schools to have even a modicum of success. First, the central charge to them must be clearly understood at all levels of the system and by those persons schools serve. Second, a new coalition comparable to the one that developed and sustained the present system of schooling must emerge” (p. 46).

“What I find missing in the state and local pronouncements is a definition and clarification of what I call the education gap: ‘The distance between man’s most noble visions of what he might become and present levels of functioning.’ The clear and widely disseminated articulation of this gap would define educational needs and motivate large numbers of people to participate in change and reform. If this articulation fails to come from the state, from where might we expect to receive it?” (p. 57).

Important Terminology:
Mandate – a clear authorization to act in a certain way, used in this chapter to refer to a state expression of goals for educational systems

Discussion Guiding Questions:

What do we think about the challenge schools face to provide both quality and equality? Can we think of instances in which we’ve achieved this goal? Is it an achievable goal?

While I understand Goodlad’s belief that a clear mandate for schooling needs to be articulated by the states, I worry that such mandates are inevitably too influenced by short-term economic and political considerations. What do other people think?

Is there a tension in education between a focus on the child as an individual and as a member of society?

Can we see the four goals for schools that Goodlad describes (academic, vocational, social and civic, and personal) reflected in our own educational backgrounds?