Many great debates occur in Starbucks coffee shops. There is convincing theory that the stimulant in the coffee elevates the mood, producing feelings of excitement, and euphoria and as such great words of wisdom are inspired. Herein lies the sequence of events and the ensuing discussion that followed in such a setting.
There is a Starbucks coffee shop at the corner of Parliament and Aberdeen in downtown Toronto. Tyrone, Eric, and Gina, three experienced high school teachers are entering the front door as the sharp rays of eastern, spring sun illuminate the quaint buildings lining the street. They are preparing for a large presentation titled “Goal of Education” that will be made to decision makers at the school board.
Gina places the order, “One Caffè Americano, one Espresso Macchiato, and one Caffè Latte please. She pays for all three drinks. They grab their drinks and head over to the large rectangular table in the middle of the shop.
Tyrone continues the conversation they were having along the way to the coffee shop as he wraps his fingers around to hug the cup of his Caffè Americano, “When you think about it, education is about democratic equality where schools focus on the preparation of its citizens.”
Gina contributes to the conversation, “Another aspect of education then is on the training of workers and of course it also prepares individuals to compete for social positions.”
Eric, the mathematics teacher, is listening intently, and he provides a summary, “So these goals represent at a high level three aspects… the citizen, the taxpayer, and the consumer. But there is a fundamental flaw in education. It’s viewed as a commodity where the purpose of it is status attainment and where the pursuit of credentials is more important than the acquisition of knowledge.”
Gina always the one to provide encouragement to others says, “Eric, lets write that down that’s excellent…the last part you said about viewed as a commodity…”
Eric types his thought on his Notability application on his iPad.
Tyrone is now speaking with a little more emphasis, “Eric, now that you touch on flaws, some argue that the root cause of the issues in education are pedagogical and arise from poor quality, inadequate preparation of teachers and from inadequate curriculum.”
Eric takes a sip of his Espresso Macchiato pauses and then says, “But there are also strong arguments that the central problem is organizational.”
Gina delicately balancing her Caffè Latte on the palm of her says quietly but confidently, “The primary cause of educational deficiencies is social, arising from chronic poverty, race discrimination, and the preservation of privilege. Another key problem is cultural, the result of a culture of poverty, disintegrating family values, and a growing gap between school culture and popular culture.”
Tyrone the oldest of the three, shifts in his chair, clears his throat and says, ”Schools do occupy a difficult position at the crossroads between what we hope society will become and what we think it really is. It’s a delicate balance between political ideals and economic realities.”
Eric says, “Great words Tyrone. I will write that down as one of our reference points for our presentation.” Eric proceeds to type it in his Notability application.
Eric continues, “Yes that’s the catch… our economic well-being depends on our ability to prepare the young to carry out useful economic roles with competence, however this has to be balanced with the concepts of moulding education so that it creates a better future for everyone.”
Tyron is speaking as he peers deeply into his Caffè Americano,”In my mind one thing is absolutely certain…the sole purpose in education cannot be just for the private good of individuals to provide them with a competitive advantage in the struggle for desirable social positions. But I believe this is how education has evolved… as a competitive struggle between individuals without much thought of how this wisdom can be applied to the heart. As Aristotle says, Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
Gina with her charming smile and quite disposition says, ” That’s a great quote Tyron, I think we can use that as the basis of thinking while we develop this presentation. Eric if you don’t mind can you please write this thought down as well.
Tyron with a shy smile quickly types away on his iPad.
Gina finishes off her Caffè Latte and says with emphasis, ” This is the point we should be at with these discussions. We are presenting to decision makers that have the power to change the processes, the system, the world we live in and our future. I believe we need to emphasize the wholeness of education as it touches all aspects of our being, our society, our relationship with each other, and our environment. I believe we need to evolve to a world where no one gets left behind and build a world where education is used as a benefit to all..not as a mechanism to dig deeper class systems, or used like a competitive sport to establish a winner and loser, or as a machinery to keep the assembly lines of economic production in motion. We should keep in mind that education without morals or without the heart is like a ship without a compass, merely wandering nowhere…”
With visions of this small ship in a mighty ocean tossed around with the immense power of nature, the three teachers slowly rise from their seats and head out of the coffee shop as great thoughts flow through their minds.
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