Power Of Context Theory In American Education

Powerful Essays
I am right, you are wrong. In nearly every debate the ultimate motive is to prove that one side is right and the other is inherently wrong, rarely leaving any room for middle ground. Sadly, because of debate’s prevalence throughout society, American culture and education has been deduced to lecturing and mere dualistic contention. From news shows to elementary classrooms, logic and reason serve as the gateway to discovering truths, according to western education. But what exactly are the consequences of a debate-centered education system, and can America make changes in order to diminish any negative consequences? For one, it is evident that in comparison to Asian nations, American education is lacking. When it comes to academic achievement, …show more content…
Gladwell attributes human behavior to what he believes is quite a radical idea. In his article, he searches to discover what causes behaviors to “stick” or become pervasive, and at what point a government or organization becomes able to make a societal change. The article covers New York City’s drop in crime rates during the 1990s, attributing the decline to the Broken Window Theory by claiming that people’s behavior is heavily influenced by their environment. Thus, small things, such as graffiti or dilapidated buildings, will inevitably lead to increased crime. His Power of Context Theory is quite similar, claiming that the immediate context of one’s environment is most important in guiding one’s actions (Gladwell 164). Essentially, “behavior is a function of social context”, and, “it isn’t just serious criminal behavior that is sensitive to environmental cues, it is all behavior” (Gladwell 159,165). With this reasoning, it becomes simple to see how the Power of Context can be applied to the realm of education. For the first twenty-two years of most students’ lives, their most influential environment is school. Just as Gladwell explains people’s behavior is influenced by the appearance of buildings and side-walks, a student’s behavior is defined by the environment set by a school’s physical appearance. …show more content…
This may seem to be a drastic statement, but according to Alexander, dialogue, “may be one of the keys to our survival as a species” (10). While the reasoning for much of this may seem theoretical, authors Brian Ripley and Randy Clemens outline how community dialogue in Lynchburg, VA and Syracuse, NY have already significantly built trust and tolerance amongst residents (Everyday Democracy).
Hopefully, with a full implementation of dialogue in education, students will move from “I am right, you are wrong” to “together, we are right.”
WORKS CITED
Alexander, Robin. "Education as dialogue: Moral and Pedagogical Choices for a Runaway
World.” The Hong Kong Institute of Education (2005). Web. 04 Nov. 2013.
"Dialogue". N.d. Nonformaility. www.nonformality.org. Web. 25 Nov 2013.
Gayathri, Amrutha. “US 17th In Global Education Ranking; Finland, South Korea Claim Top
Spots.” International Busines Times. International Business Times, 27 Nov 2012. Web.
22 Nov.

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