Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thinking within and beyond K-16 education

K-16 (K-12 schooling plus higher education) is understandably the core of American educational life and the focus of most educational scholarship. But even as we work to study and improve the quality of K-16 education, it is also important to realize that education is something that occurs outside of schools as well as within them. We need to think about the word "education" in broader terms.

What public policy consequences might a broader definition of "education" lead to?

Perhaps: Policies designed to increase the overall health of communities through improved social capital and social networks (see Charles M. Payne, So Much Reform, So Little Change). This might entail increased funding for museums, libraries, public infrastructure and parks, cultural offerings and the arts, and after-school programs.

What consequences for the profession of "educator" might a broader definition of "education" lead to?

Perhaps: Educators - teachers, administrators, counselors - might come to identify themselves not only as transmitters of knowledge, but as cultivators of the personhood and character of individual students and of the academic and cultural atmosphere of the communities where they teach.

Any thoughts?