What Good Are Schools?


Do not judge a man until you have walked ten leagues in his moccasins.    Proverb


Step One

Read the article, Remarks concerning the Savages of North America, written by Benjamin Franklin.


Step Two

In small groups of 3 or 4, discuss the following:

§         What are the aims of the education system of Ontario, and of this school in particular?

§         What are you expected to know when you graduate?

§         What are the ideals of the society that have determined those aims?

§         Where did those ideals come from? 

§         What conflicts can arise from those ideals?

§         Discuss how the Franklin article illustrates these conflicts in values and ideals? 

§         Can you come up with a current example of conflicts that could arise in our education system because of a difference ideals and values?  Be able to explain this example.

§         What status is given in our system vs. what status should be given to

q       Moral/ethical education?

q       Community service?

q       Political education?

q       Physical education and sports?

q       Arts education/the humanities?

q       Science and math?


Step Three

You have spent some time discussing the aims, successes and faults of our current education system.  Now, in your groups, devise the best possible education curriculum for the province.  One of your team members will have to list the curriculum (subjects) that you have decided upon and in what grades each will be taught on the blackboard.  You must only follow these two preconditions:


§         Your aim must be to produce the best individuals and the best society possible.

§         You must impart only knowledge and beliefs that are based on sound evidence.


Be certain that you can justify your choices of curriculum when it is your turn.


Step Four

Choose AT LEAST ONE of the following articles to read and read it quietly.


q       GTA high school graduates with perfect marks divulge their secrets

q       Do Grades Really Matter?

q       How Schools Get it Wrong

q       Failure is not an option


Step Five

Write your first journal entry.  Based on your group discussion and the readings you have done, WHAT SHOULD BE THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION?  Is the school system “broken”?  If so, how would you fix it?  You may consider any or all of the following ideas in your journal:


q       What do you feel is the value of our education system?

q       Is our current system the best way to “do” education?  How would you change the system so that it would be better?  Consider the problems that you would create in the changes that you make.

q       Summarize and respond to one of the articles that you have read today.

q       Outline the school system and curriculum that your group came up with.


History Department