What is the specific role of education in the development of American culture?
In my view the specific role of education in the development of American culture is building motivation. Unfortunately many Americans don't value the education and have a misconception that the ability to excel in studies is only given to geeks. This is not true.
Everybody is given the ability to study and strive for excellence. We just need to develop students' motivation starting from middle and high schools, because this is a critical moment.
High school students are very easygoing, and this affects the national culture. They think that studying hard and getting good grades is a boring life but don't even know about the rewards of this boring life. Eventually these easygoing students end up dropping out of school or not being accepted into the college. This is what the national culture is turning into. Some of the ways to encourage these young students to do well in schools include developing close communication as well as inspirational and motivational initiatives. As a result, one day they will make their own valuable contribution to the American culture.
One of the best ways to motivate the kids to study well is having a conversation about their future, about their dreams and goals. Most of the kids who excel in their studies have some goals, and they know who they want to be in the future, while those kids who don't study at all are usually confused about their future. This often happens due to lack of attention from parents, teachers, in some cases even the whole society. Therefore having an individual conversation with these kids can greatly help them to set some important goals and study well in order to achieve them. It's also crucial that teachers involve both passive and active students in class activities because passive students are usually left unnoticed, and they might feel useless. Delivering inspirational speeches is also important since it's the only way to encourage the kids to do well in school. Some students naturally enthusiastic about learning, but many need or expect their parents, instructors to inspire, challenge and stimulate them. "Effective learning in the classroom depends on the teacher's ability... to maintain the interest that brought students to the course in the first place" (Erickson, 1978)
There are many exceptional programs offered by teachers to encourage kids to study. For example, "Creative Learning" created by Jon Pearson is a great motivational program that integrates reading, writing and drawing. Social studies, math, science, history and other subjects can be taught by using pictures, and this is a better and more entertaining way of learning. The author teaches the learning strategies through art. This program has a distinct approach to schoolchildren and offers an easier way to learn faster. Another great motivational program created by Benny Buettner is called "The Amazing Science Wiz Show". This show is a unique way of teaching physics, earth science and visual perception with moving optical illusions. This program has many different plays including good decision making and anti-tobacco education which is very important. There are many similar programs that are intended to inspire and motivate kids to study and help them focus better. These programs are essential for the kids who have hard time concentrating or simply bored of studying.
In 1986 the creation of The Mural Arts Program (MAP) within Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network (PAGN) by Jane Golden was the first step to help the kids who like to draw graffiti in the streets to use their creativity in a positive way, such as arts and crafts. This program has also helped the kids to express their feelings and show their inner world through mural arts. Many kids who were prosecuted for graffiti vandalism joined this program by involving in the creation of many of the murals around Philadelphia. Since the MAP began, they have produced over 2,700 murals and educated over 20,000 uncultured kids in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said: "There is no program anywhere that better realizes the potential and value of art to our culture. As much as these murals have contributed to the beautification and revitalization of the City, the Mural Arts Program must be congratulated even more for engaging the youth of Philadelphia". Unfortunately there are still many youths in the streets using their creative abilities in a negative way. To prevent such bad habits form happening we need to create more programs like MAP, but not only in arts and crafts but also in different areas and all over the United States.
The future of our kids is in our hands, and the future of national culture is in their hands. In order to develop the national culture we need to educate our kids. Education and culture are closely interrelated. Sadly, about one million students drop out of high school each year in the Untied States. Many of them end up ruining their lives, and this is a great impact on the national culture. Parents as well as teachers are responsible for this, and therefore, they need to make a major effort to inspire and encourage them to study. Motivation is the initial step of the proper education. Applying motivational programs mentioned above would be very helpful. Motivation also helps the students to reveal their hidden talents and strive for excellence. As stated by Elliot W. Eisner: "The ultimate aim of education is to enable individuals to become the architects of their own education and through that process to continually reinvent themselves... Minds are cultural; and although there is not sharp line between what is biological and what is cultural - they define each other - the overriding perspective I want to commend is that schools have something significant to do with the invention of mind".