Educational Aims and Values

1) According to political leaders (“Constant Crisis”), what are the principal aims and values of education in the United States? What are we trying to accomplish through 13+ years of formal schooling? How does this rhetoric stack up against what you believe our aims and values ought to be?
2) Consider the following passages. How ought schools and educators respond to the circumstances described? What can we do? In your experience, what is currently being done, educationally speaking?

Writing in the summer, 2017 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Gerardo Ceballos, Paul Ehrlich & Rodolfo Dirzo report that:
Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event…and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most. All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.
Appearing in the August 1, 2018 edition of the New York Times Magazine, Nathaniel Rich writes:
The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement—the nonbinding, unenforceable and already unheeded treaty signed on Earth Day in 2016—hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are one in twenty. If by some miracle we are able to limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf. The climate scientist James Hansen has called two-degree warming “a prescription for long-term disaster.” Long-term disaster is now the best-case scenario. Three-degree warming is a prescription for short-term disaster: forests in the Arctic and loss of most coastal cities. Robert Watson, a former director of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has argued that three-degree warming is the realistic minimum. Four degrees: Europe in permanent drought; vast areas of China, India, and Bangladesh claimed by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely uninhabitable. The prospect of a five-degree warming has prompted some of the world’s leading climate scientists to warn of the end of human civilization.

3) Plato’s Cave Allegory is a prominent story of one of the central books of the Western philosophical cannon. It will reappear more than once in the course. As best as you can judge, what does this allegory communicate about the nature and purpose of education or enlightenment?
4) How do these essays compare/contrast with your own experiences and sentiments relating to school? What central thing are these authors getting at?



Sample Solution