“Which of the following is not a manifest function of education?” I’ve often been asked, and I can’t help but respond “none.” That’s an easy answer to give, but one that isn’t always necessarily true when it comes to education. Many people believe that education is simply an extension of what they already know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, everyone knows that concepts like logic, cause and effect, etc.
However, if we dig deeper, we’ll find that most people don’t really understand what it means to learn. They think that they do know concepts like cause and effect and logic, but the concepts they’re referring to are often much more complex than that. And it’s not just the abstractions that they’re missing; many of their ideas about education have to do with theory perspectives, too. Which of the following is not a manifest function of education?
“Learning is a process of acquiring learning experiences, which in turn modify behaviors so that the learner may achieve a higher degree of success in life.” In fact, this very definition of “learning” is a manifest function of education. If you take a high school student who’s doing well in math and ask them why they do well, they might say that they study “principles” or “social class awareness.” But if you ask them to explain what those things mean to them and why they’re important to achieving their goals, most (if not all) of them would say that they learned those things by interacting with other people in their social class. So which of the following is not a manifest function of education?
“All knowledge which is produced by interacting with a set of social institution” seems like a pretty good answer. In fact, the whole idea of education as the process of learning by interacting with other people seems pretty close to the definition of education itself. In fact, this is also a pretty good definition of the entire educational process! Now let’s examine two examples…
The first example occurs when people are taught, directly or indirectly, which of the following is not a manifest function of education: the hidden curriculum, or the role of a teacher as regards the development of knowledge outside the classroom. The hidden curriculum is a set of activities, materials, processes and strategies developed behind the scenes, which serve to support and supplement instruction within the classroom. In this case, learning is really a matter of making connections and then working to integrate those connections through a production of knowledge which can be seen, heard, seen or done. And that’s a very manifest function of education.
The second example occurs when people are trained to think for themselves, independently, and creatively. In this case, education is about self-designation of an environment which fosters and enhances the critical thinking processes which produce knowledge. Here we see a clear contrast between the formal education that occurs in the classroom under the instruction of a teacher and the informal education which occur at home, in the company of friends and family. The former encourages and celebrates individual autonomy, while the latter institutionalizes it.
The problem is that many education systems have chosen to formalize all or most of the above. We hear of curriculum reform, increased standards for high academic achievement, standardized testing, and the promotion of memorized facts and curriculums. But there are many who argue that this has reduced education to a form of ritual, with little to contribute beyond rote memorization. Indeed, some have proposed a Return to Learning Theory which would see education around the edges as something like the emerging Wundt’s Circle, with learning being emergent phenomena that can occur at different and unexpected moments and which cannot be simply pinned down and studied within a rigid framework.
These days, many in our communities are calling for universal access to quality education. For example, in Canada, the Evidence Based Educational Program (EBE) was introduced as a strategy to improve teaching practices across the country. The program reviews all aspects of teaching to identify what can be improved, what needs attention, what needs replacing, and how best to achieve those improvements.
This article is provided by Honduras Educacional. Thank you for reading