Skills vs. Values
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 interaction? My past teachers seem to agree with Baldwin in many ways. Rather than focusing on the subject they are assigned to teach, they drift to the knowledge of the ethics, the morals, or the values of society. I have had science classes that talk about psychology and why we do things, math classes that lecture us on driving skills and English classes that address racism. There was a time in my biology class when there was a discussion about teen pregnancy. Even though this does have some relevancy to biology, it took away from the valuable class time to learn about the study of life. Students go to school to learn, to go to college, and to get the job they want; it is the job of their parents to teach their children those values, not the job of the school.
“A Little Literature: Reading, Writing, Argument” is a book that spans across multiple genres of literature and allows the reader to get a taste of classical and contemporary issues regarding the different values of society and how they evolve amongst secondary cultures (Barnet). The man to send rain clouds, by Leslie Marmon Silko “The man to send rain clouds” was originally published in the late ...
Even though the American education does have its flaws, the teachers do give greater feedback to their students than the teachers in other countries do. In Kyoki Mori’s “School” she said while talking about her childhood in a Chinese education, “No matter what the subject, our teachers never give us clear advice about how to do better.” When teachers stay on subject in my classes, they are willing to give individual attention to each student or offer them several different forms of constructive criticism. There have been multiple times when I have asked a teacher a question and they offer up the answer right there or request that I speak with them at the end of class, the goal being that I understand what is being taught. This does prepare many students for their futures by helping them understand and fully grasp a particular subject.
Even though morals and ethics are a valid subject for teaching, they do not correctly serve the purpose of a true education. Students wish to specialize in fields for their future, they want the most knowledge for their time.