Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Student Potential, Not ‘Indoctrination,’ Should Rule Classroom Learning

September 22, 2015 1 min read

To the Editor:

It seems obvious that the focus of any system of education should be to meet the student’s need for fulfillment of personal potential, whatever that may be. The reality, however, is very different. My experience as a high school student—and as someone who has taught theater, drama, and communications over a 44-year career at the elementary through college levels—has shown me that the existing system leans more to indoctrination than to education in the Socratic sense.

It is a system designed to meet the needs of the society, as opposed to one that meets the personal needs of each student. It is a system designed to equip the corporate world’s bottom-line mentality with an adequate and obedient workforce.

Education’s purpose should be to preserve a natural curiosity that leads to creativity. The student must be provided with an adequate means of reaching his or her potential for personal achievement and fulfillment, in concert with the innate talents he or she may possess. This is the only source of true happiness.

A truly just system of education would be one that, before we ask how to educate, asks, why we educate.

Hal O’Leary

Wheeling, W.Va.

A version of this article appeared in the September 23, 2015 edition of Education Week as Student Potential, Not ‘Indoctrination,’ Should Rule Classroom Learning


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