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15 Goals of
American Education

Natalia J. Garland

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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 American 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' days.
    [Source unknown.]


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 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 minorities.
  • Understand the meaning of and find examples of true heroism.
  • Appreciation of the academic and artistic contributions of Western Civilization.
  • 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 healthy self-reliance.
  • Keep reading during summer vacation.


Unfortunately, we 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 world.

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.

History, for 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.



Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
Of the eighteenth of April, in seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, 'If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For 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 again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2007 Natalia J. Garland