Thursday, October 22, 2009

Four Models of Education

The “Four Models of Education” that we discussed in class include the Enlightenment Model, the Human Capital Model, the Manpower Model, and the Consumerism Model.

The Enlightenment model was prominent in the 1950s. Within this model, education is seen as learning for the sake of learning. Basically from this view, the more education a person receives, the better person they are. They become cultured members of society.

The next shift led to the Human Capital model which was dominant from the 1950s to the later 1970s/early 1980s. In the 1950s, economists changed their view of education from “consumption” to “investment.” Education would increase personal capital and so education would be an investment. From this view, education would be used to fix social problems. If everyone is educated, then everyone is equal. Because education was seen as an economic priority, the school system experienced massive expansion. So how did this expansion affect teachers? This model basically led to improved salaries and social prestige but, on the other hand, teachers (and school systems in general) were expected to solve social and economic problems. The reason why this model was subject to criticisms is the fact that positions were not available to all educated people equally. In addition, if more people were able to be educated, there would be an oversupply of over-trained individuals.

It is interesting to think about the amount of money that was spent to expand the school system. At this time, teachers were paid more and were given money to enrich their classrooms. That is definitely not the trend currently. Teachers often have to use their own money to purchase supplies for the classroom. It is not seen as an investment anymore to put loads of money into schools and towards teachers’ salaries.

The next model to emerge was the Manpower Model which has been dominant since the early 1980s. The purpose of education is for directed economic development. An investment in education was still an investment in the economy; however, only those areas that demonstrated a need for graduates would be invested in. For example, during this time, the importance of the arts began to decline. The curriculum was determined by government planners and society’s needs were seen as more important than the students’ needs. Teacher salaries also decreased.

As a companion to the Manpower model, the Consumerism Model also emerged in the early 1980s. Both models are current. From this view, education was only invested in if it would demonstrate an economic return. Any aspect of education than would not demonstrate economic return became privatized.

Education currently seems to be entirely controlled by money. The interests of the economy are put ahead of the needs and interests of the students (and teachers). This doesn’t really seem right to me at all (On the other hand, having an oversupply of overly education people would not yield the best results either). It is unfortunate that areas of education, such as the arts, are not considered important and are not as often invested in. In order to receive the funding, the importance of the subject/project to the economy must be proven. The importance to the students is not a factor. In addition, the program to be certified as a teacher became extended greatly to reduce the number of teachers looking for jobs due to an oversupply of teachers.

This new information made me wonder what the next shift in education will lead to and what implications it will have for me as a future teacher.

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