Questions for Final Papers, Social Foundations of Education

Questions for Final Papers, Social Foundations of Education
Write an essay of 10 to 12 pages on the social foundations of education. You may write
in response to one of the following questions, or you may devise your own question to
guide your writing. Please double-space your paper and number your pages. Give your
paper a title and include a reference page. Don’t forget to post your proposal, rough
draft, and final draft on the dates given in your syllabus. Provide feedback to other
students as described in the syllabus and course guide. Your paper should include the
Make arguments for the position(s) you take. Make claims and defend them citing
reasons and evidence.
Address counter arguments.
Place your discussion of education within relevant economic, political, and
ideological contexts.
Show mastery of course material by citing appropriate readings, lectures, and
discussions. It will be difficult to show mastery without using at least ten sources
from the course in a substantial way. Make sure you have a reference page and make
sure you cite page numbers or paragraphs when you use a specific idea or quote text
from a reading.
Give your paper a title that will help the reader anticipate what you will argue.
The Syllabus and Course Guide have additional information about your final paper and
how to write it.
1. A prominent educator says, “critics and observers [of education] raise…significant
issues when they remind us, first of all, that knowledge is ordinarily distributed unequally
in existing schools. In the ongoing processes of ‘cultural reproduction,’ we are told, only
a relatively few are likely to benefit from the encouragement of free rational judgment.
Most students will be trained to take their allotted roles in a stratified society. The
languages they speak and their cultural experiences will be consistently disconfirmed:
they will be taught that they are in important ways inferior, ineffectual, and powerless.”
(Maxine Greene, “How We Think about Our Craft,” Teacher College Record, 86, no. 2:
Drawing upon readings, lectures, and discussions, evaluate the accuracy of
Greene’s description of schooling in America. (In your description, feel free to criticize
the perspectives offered in my lectures.) Argue both for your conception of democracy
and any educational approaches you recommend. Do the changes in educational policy
and practice associated with A Nation at Risk and No Child Left Behind make the things
Greene describes better or worse?
2. Discuss the argument made in readings and lectures that schools have been used drive
a wedge between parents and their children and to alienate teachers from the mothers of
their students and from the communities in which they teach. If these arguments are
correct, do ANR, NCLB, and Florida’s A+ program help mothers and teachers build a
fruitful alliance or drive them farther apart?
3. Throughout the term, I have criticized arguments that schooling can end poverty and
solve a host of social problems. Develop this argument using lectures, readings, and
discussions. Contrast arguments that poverty results from individual shortcomings and
that schooling can overcome those shortcomings to arguments that advocate direct
intervention in US economy, as occurred in the New Deal. Take a position on whether
education can end poverty.
4. Kliebard contrasts Dewey’s philosophy of education with that of the advocates of
scientific management and efficiency. Develop Kliebard’s arguments and evaluate them.
Use his analysis to examine current educational policy, say NCLB.
5. Use readings, lectures, and discussions to evaluate the argument in James Anderson’s
article, “Can Public Schools Save America?”