Education: Learning to Rise above Poverty 3
Educational practices and approaches have long been a topic of controversy. With an overwhelming number of philosophers, theorists, researchers, and educators, each with their own opinions, one can see how theories on the topic vary drastically. Theories date back to Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. For example, Plato promoted the idea of individualized instruction and enhancing skills which were pre-existing in the individual. Socrates believed in questioning and engaging students in dialogue to promote learning, and Aristotle thought that morals and ethics were critical to the learning process (Noddings, 1995). Thus, the basis of current ideas, beliefs, and methods originated.
John Dewey’s practices in his progressive movement were also important to education. This began in the late 1890’s and the early 1900’s. His progressive approach stressed the importance of social aspects of family life, health issues, the training of teachers in concepts of psychology, and the implementation of the democratic classroom (Sadker & Sadker, 2005). Were these concepts controversial? History indicates they were, but they also remain so today. It seems as though teaching methods will always be a point of division among parents, educators, and legislators alike.
The history of American education demonstrates the evolution of educational methods as well. Early schools in America were established to promote religion. Children attended school to learn to read the Bible, but very few attended school due to limited access (Sadker & Sadker, 2005). This limited access was the first demonstration of the effects of poverty on education. Children of poor families did not have access to education at this time. Then more students began to attend school when common schools were established. These schools allowed for children of all social classes to be educated.