A Modern Renaissance: Improving the Modern School System

The modern system of public education is in dire need of a reform. These days, the largest obstacles to improving education in the public sector are a lack of funds and the focus on national test scores. These issues are more prevalent in the poor inner city, which predominantly are African-American. According to Jon Collins, journalist for MPR News, he states “The number of children in Fourth Grade who scored below proficient in reading last year ranged from 84 percent of black children to 53 percent of white children.” We see many statistics like this in inner-city schools. A large contributor to these abysmal reading levels are from a lack of funding in poorer areas; since many of these poorer areas are only able to receive funding from improved national testing scores, we see a cycle of poor schools with low funding focusing all of their resources towards studying for the tests; taking away precious time and resources from focusing on improving social and cognitive skills. This system is in need of a renaissance.

Now, lets contrast this to the High Italian Renaissance; known by many as the rebirth of classical philosophy, art, and education. Education in the Renaissance, like today, focused on broad knowledge; but the difference came in application and priority of that knowledge. During the 15th and 16th centuries, there were no public schools; those only came about in the 19th. Instead, education was only available to Nobles, Banking, and successful Merchant families; such as the Habsburg, Medici, and Fugger families, all of whom privately funded their own families educations. Education to these families established then classical academia, focusing on the arts, sciences, philosophies, and technical skills. The goal of every tutor of these days was to create well rounded, “Renaissance”, men.

The modern system need to figure out what the main goal of their curriculum is. Should they focus on only teaching information that will be on national tests, or should schools focus on the arts, sciences, and establishing technical, applicable, skills? Of Course, the issue of teaching for the tests cannot be quickly cast away, it’s systematic. Every school needs funding, and this sadly is the only way for many schools to receive funding. Like how the Renaissance looked back to Rome and Greece for inspiration, we should look back to the High Renaissance. Although we should not completely adopt their systems, we should take note on their cultural priorities that focused on creating a socially and artistically intelligent society based around Humanism and Secularism. We should have a new system that will hopefully bring us a new generation of Renaissance Men.

As a modern Minnesotan, I feel that this issue is somewhat poignant. I many times felt discontent with the teach to test system; that the information was useless, and was cheated from applicable knowledge. I dream to have a system that will curtail these woes and bring about a new generation that has skills more suited to the modern day than mine.

Sources:

Collins, Jon. “Early Childhood Education Advocates Push for More Funding.” Minnesota Public Radio News. MPRNEWS, 15 Nov. 2016. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/11/15/early-childhood-education-advocates-push-for-more-funding>.

Black, Robert. “Italian Renaissance Education: Changing Perspectives and Continuing Controversies.” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 52, no. 2, 1991, pp. 315–334. www.jstor.org/stable/2709531.

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