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What Purpose Do Schools Have In Our Society And Do They Accomplish This Goal?

Updated on October 21, 2016

Understanding whether schools accomplish their societal goal is a complicated and challenging task. Traditionally, education is considered to be a tool that can play a vital role in improving the socio-economic condition of a nation. It empowers citizens with analytical abilities, leads to better confidence levels and fortifies one with will power and goal setting competencies. Education involves not only textbook learning but also a growth of values, skills and capacities. It helps students become intelligent, prepared adults capable of handling life’s dilemmas of their own accord, to plan for their career as well as to play a useful part in building a new society with progressive values. Hence, education must result in changing both individual lives as well as that of the entire community for the better. However, what goes wrong? Why is the education system, we currently have in America, severely inadequate in accomplishing this societal task? In fact, there are many reasons why students are graduating with insufficient skills for today’s society. Let’s try to indicate some of them.

In recent years, the above-mentioned issues have become a topic of scholarly attention. Thus, B. Johnston et al. critically analyse higher education curriculum and policy documentation to explore higher educational processes, encouraging a re-evaluation of practice and educational values, and enabling the development of curricula that incorporate systematic attention to the development of student criticality (Johnston: 2010). W. Fan and C. Wolters examine the mediating role of students' educational expectations in linking students' school motivation to their dropout status by utilizing a nationally representative dataset. The scholars demonstrate that the relationships between student ability beliefs in math and English and student behaviour of dropping out were fully mediated by students' educational expectations (Fan & Wolters : 2014). Edited by D. Callejo-Perez and J. Ode, “The Stewardship of Higher Education” addresses solutions in assessing the human capital (knowledge, skills, attitudes) of the faculty members more explicitly to incorporate Wellbeing into Health and Education fields by showing how to work with the professions, faculty, staff, and students (Ode & Callejo-Perez : 2013).

According to W. Fan and C. Wolters, “high school dropout rates have become one of the most prominent educational problems that result in costs not only to individuals but also to larger society” (Ode & Callejo-Perez : 2013, 22). Factors, that explain why students leave school, are as follows: poor academic performance, misbehaviour, little engagement in school activities, coming from low-income families or single-parent families, less-supportive relationships with parents and teachers, negative influence from peers, etc. The most interesting is that the relationships between students’ beliefs about their academic abilities and leaving school before graduation are fully mediated by the level of education students expect to achieve.

The question why today’s schools fail to accomplish their goal might be explained by the greater social and economic demands: today’s society and economy is quite different from that of twenty-five years ago. Since the technological revolution, employers have been demanding workers that are ever more skilled. It is essential to recognize that the skill demands of the workforce continue to evolve and that high schools (and postsecondary institutions) must remain nimble in their efforts to prepare students to meet those demands. At the same time, it has been difficult for schools to find the resources to meet the educational needs of their students and to find adequately prepared teachers, and nowhere this problem is more acute than at the high school level. Thus, high schools must shoulder some of the blame for failing to prepare young people adequately for today’s workforce. I recognize that many of the problems facing U.S. education have their roots in the often poor preparation of students in elementary and middle schools – preparation whose inadequacy becomes most visible in high school when academic and social demands increase dramatically. The difficulty of high school for many students in the United States begins the day they first set foot through its doors in ninth grade. Researchers report that nearly all incoming high school students experience some anxiety; most of them will receive failing grades in some or all of their classes. The reason is that students are inadequately prepared for a high school curriculum. The way the traditional high school is organized – with students attending multiple classes in a day and teachers identifying more with their subject-matter department than with a set of students – means that struggling students fall through the cracks because no one takes a personal interest in their academic difficulties.

The uneven academic and workplace outcomes of today’s school students make it possible to conclude that the American high school is falling short in realizing its new mission of preparing every student for for today’s society. To serve as a means of advancement for all of its students and the nation, the American high school needs to find a way to bring to scale the methods and mechanisms, conditions, and know-how that will enable high schools to achieve this transformation.


Johnston, B. (2010). Developing student criticality in higher education. Continuum Studies in Educational Research New York: Continuum.

Fan, W., & Wolters, C. (2014). School motivation and high school dropout: The mediating role of educational expectation. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(1), 22-39.

Ode, J., & Callejo-perez, D. (2013). The Stewardship of Higher Education : Re-imagining the Role of Education and Wellness on Community Impact. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.


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