- Educators can learn valuable lessons about the purpose and ultimate impact of education on society as a whole from the experiences of veteran African American teachers, who have historically viewed schools as a “public good to expand citizenship, equity, and collective responsibility” rather than an “engine for individual social mobility,” Kristina Rizga, author of "Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph," contends in an article for The Atlantic.
- According to the article, the experiences of veteran Mississippi Delta teacher Renee Moore and other black educators who established sound teaching practices during times of intense upheaval indicate that teaching students together and having them help one another learn may have more benefit to them and society than separating them by abilities.
- Historically, African American educators have viewed education as a path to freedom and full citizenship, but implementing these ideals means a stronger focus on building qualities that create better citizens, gaining a better understanding of democracy and the individual's role in society, and strengthening communication and public speaking skills so students can take a stronger leadership role promoting the good of the community.
“The demands put on schools are not restricted to preparing students for the increasing demands of the labor market. A child needs to grow to be an informed member of the society in which they live and to have the knowledge and capabilities to participate,” Claudia Costin wrote in an essay for The Brookings Institution. As educators work with students to help them find their own paths to the future, they also need to keep in mind that education has a larger purpose, as well.
When students are educated to take their place as valuable contributors to society, they improve the world around them. Improving the quality of education has the capacity to improve the economy of the community or the nation as a whole. And the more leaders recognize education's importance to the economy, the more they're willing to invest.
However, the benefits go beyond strictly economics. In a democratic society, civic participation is vital to the preservation of a functioning government. Education can create better citizens who are more capable of productive participation in the demands of democracy and of working to improve the world around them. In an increasingly global society, education also prepares students to engage with people whose cultures, backgrounds and ideas differ from their own.
Schools can help accomplish this by re-examining teaching models to make sure students are taught to collaborate with others — a skill that will help build empathy, understanding and the ability to work with others to accomplish a common goal. Increasing opportunities for civic engagement can also help improve the skills students need to participate fully in the world, and schools can set the example by becoming more community-oriented themselves through the implementation of a community school model.