What Schools Are For?

The renowned educational researcher and theorist John Goodlad investigated the processes needed for renewing schools and teacher preparation. In MM2, we oftentimes refer to Goodlad’s meaningful ideas about curriculum, education and schooling, and more.

For example, in What Schools Are For, Goodlad (1979) examined the purposes of schools. His thinking paved the way for understanding the need for public school in and for a democracy.

Sadly, Goodlad passed away November 29, 2014. He was 94. He lived a long and meaningful life. His ideals and dreams for education will hopefully continue to inspire us to do better.

We leave Goodlad’s ideals here in outline form only. Consider whether or not we meet some of these goals in/for our schools:

Major Goals of American Schools

  1. Mastery of basic skills or fundamental process. In our technological civilization, an individual’s ability to participate in the activities of society depends on mastery of these fundamental skills.
  2. Career and vocational education. An individual’s satisfaction in life will be significantly related to satisfaction with her or his job. Intelligent career decisions will require knowledge of personal aptitudes and interests in relation to career possibilities.
  3. Intellectual development. As civilization has become more complex, people have had to rely more heavily on their rational abilities. Full intellectual development of each member of society is necessary.
  4. Enculturation. Studies that illuminate our relationship with the past yield insights into our society and its values; further, these strengthen an individual’s sense of belonging, identity, and direction for his or her own life.
  5. Interpersonal relations. Schools should help every child understand, appreciate, and value persons belonging to social, cultural, and ethnic groups different from his or her own.
  6. Autonomy. Unless schools produce self-directed citizens, they have failed both society and the individual. As society becomes more complex, demands on individuals multiply. Schools help prepare children for a world of rapid change by developing in them the capacity to assume responsibility for their own needs.
  7. Citizenship. To counteract the present ability to destroy humanity and the environment requires citizen involvement in the political and social life of this country. A democracy can survive only through the participation of its members.
  8. Creativity and aesthetic perception. Abilities for creating new and meaningful things and appreciating the creations of other human beings are essential both for personal self-realization and for the benefit of society.
  9. Self-concept. The self concept of an individual serves as a reference point and feedback mechanism for personal goals and aspirations. Facilitating factors for a healthy self-concept can be provided in the school environment.
  10. Emotional and physical well-being. Emotional stability and physical fitness are perceived as necessary conditions for attaining the other goals, but they are also worthy ends in themselves.
  11. Moral and ethical character. Individuals need to develop the judgment that allows us to evaluate behavior as right or wrong. Schools can foster the growth of such judgment as well as commitment to truth, moral integrity, and moral conduct.
  12. Self-realization. Efforts to develop a better self contribute to the development of a better society.