15 Goals of
Natalia J. Garland
The annual back-to-school readiness signifies opportunity for
academic success and renewed hope for the future. That's because
education propels us forward--students, teachers, parents, and
society. In that spirit of optimism, a friend gave me a copy of
"15 Reasons to Love Education." It is a list of
affirmations for hardworking teachers whose contributions are
sometimes not appreciated by students, parents, and society.
Although the "15 Reasons" is accurate and inspirational,
it is subject to socio-political pressures regarding exactly what
it is that teachers teach. Let me share the "15 Reasons"
with you, and then translate those reasons into specific goals for
15 REASONS TO LOVE EDUCATION
- Knowing that you make a difference.
- Creating a better tomorrow.
- Working with children.
- Helping learning happen.
- Memorable moments.
- Being in great company
- Using your mind, heart, and soul every day.
- Rewards that money cannot buy.
- Seeing a student's face light up.
- A sense of accomplishment.
- Shaping lives, dreams, and futures.
- Each day can be an adventure.
- Feeling proud of being a role model.
- Summer vacation.
- Recognizing that your job is important, even on 'bad'
Yes, teachers and
school systems should make a positive difference in the lives
of young people. Students should be taught facts, truth, and
critical thinking. They should also be immersed in a value
system which will produce good citizens. This is not contrary to
the purpose of education, but essential to the development of
high self-esteem, civic responsibility, and the continuation of
American democracy. Patriotism, for example, should be regarded
as a part of character formation and supported with lessons in
history and literature. Patriotism involves not only loyalty to
and love of country, but also affirmation of the self in time and
place. It is in this combined spirit of scholastic achievement
and character formation that I offer my "15 Goals of American
15 GOALS OF AMERICAN EDUCATION
- Gratitude for living in America.
- Love of freedom and equality.
- Willingness to protect freedom.
- Respect for America's history of procuring equal rights for
- Understand the meaning of and find examples of true heroism.
- Appreciation of the academic and artistic contributions of
- Acknowledgment that some cultures are more moral than others.
- Objective perspective on non-Western studies.
- Recognition of 9/11 as an attack on freedom and equality.
- Love of learning.
- Love of the English language.
- Fluency in a foreign language.
- Zero tolerance for cheating.
- Development of cooperation with others along with
- Keep reading during summer vacation.
seem to be living in an era of academic pretense. Qualities such
as gratitude, love, respect, and appreciation tend to evaporate
beneath the flames of narcissistic entitlement. Likewise, honor
and duty are often cast into the bonfire of narcissistic contempt.
The mental skill of objectivity is replaced by political bias, and
moral standards by extreme cultural relativism. The admirer of
Western Civilization is labeled as ethnocentric, the lover of
English as anti-immigrant, and the patriot as an oppressor of the
Perhaps the most
difficult of the "15 Goals" is the willingness to
protect freedom. Recently, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee
said, "...there are three things a country has got to do to
be free: It's got to feed itself, it has to be able to fuel
itself, and it's got to be able to fight for itself. And if it
can't do those things, then it's only as free as the nations who
provide those things will allow it to be." If the
food-fuel-defense priority is applied to education, then lessons
in literature, history, and civics are especially important in
generating student motivation and empowerment to guard our free
society from dependence on and oppression by others.
example, should be taught both factually and critically. Lessons
should be presented in a way that students can learn how to solve
problems, how to identify true heroes, how to appreciate both the
struggles and successes of their predecessors, and how to ensure
freedom for future generations. The result of this approach
would be love of country, development of personal identity and
self-esteem, and a belonging to something greater than oneself.
Students should be
encouraged to study world history and other cultures, but from the
vantage points of intellectual exploration and humanitarian
sophistication. The same critical courage that is applied to
American history must also be applied to world history. If other
civilizations have contributed to the advancement of mankind, then
this is to be appreciated and to be utilized where appropriate.
If there have been human rights violations, then this is to be
condemned and not rationalized or justified by a deceptive
twisting of psychological and sociological concepts.
Tolerance for those
who are different from us has needlessly been extended to
individuals and societies which are harmful or, dare I say
it--backward. Apology for wrongs has encircled all evil deeds
and excused all evil-doers (except Americans) from responsibility.
Educationally, this is self-defeating. Nationally, it is
subversive. If American students are indoctrinated--by textbooks
which skew information and by teachers whose lectures impose a
political bias--to accept other cultures but to despise America
for real or imagined faults, then there can be no development of
self-esteem and no love of country. And, why protect something in
which you do not have a personal investment?
America must produce
high school graduates who have read and understood literature such
as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's
Ride," and who are thereby able to live in both fulfillment
and preservation of America's freedom.
PAUL REVERE'S RIDE
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
the eighteenth of April, in seventy-five;
a man is now alive
remembers that famous day and year.
said to his friend, 'If the British march
land or sea from the town tonight,
a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
the North Church tower as a signal light,--
if by land, and two, if by sea;
I on the opposite shore will be,
to ride and spread the alarm
every Middlesex village and farm,
the country folk to be up and to arm.'
In order to
understand the above poem (which is actually much longer),
students have to be able to discuss: history and geography; the
definitions of hero, freedom, war, independence, duty, courage,
love, patriotism, friendship, cooperation, self-reliance; and
various literary devices. Students also have to be able to do
research to verify facts. This is the love of education in
action. If our capacity for love of learning and love of freedom
is destroyed by political narcissists, then we risk losing our
national spirit. When this happens, we will submit to any nation
that can provide us with food and fuel. (Written 09/03/07: bibliography available.)
Until we meet