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How J. Oakes' Educational Horizons Relates to My Own Experiences with Education

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I have always done well on my standardized tests, though I didn’t have as many as the children of America do today. I was always placed in the highest classes, and my dad was always proud of me. I never realized that I was truly getting a different education then most other kids in my school. After reading Educational Horizons, by J. Oakes, I understand how I was really in a different world than my peers. Everybody would always talk about how effortless their classes were and how they never had any homework. I was doing homework every night and writing essays every week. I thought those kids were just “lucky” to have an easy teacher, but now I see that they were learning different things all together. Personally, I always felt relieved to be in a small class of the same twenty people all day. I enjoyed learning and I didn’t want to be distracted by all the other kids. I would like to analyze a particular talk with my guidance counselor my early high school years.

I always thought of school as a place to prepare for college and, ultimately, life. I recall one occasion in my guidance office, where I was begging my guidance counselor to let me take sowing class. He told me to forget about it, that I was the kind of girl who would have other people to sow for me, and that I needed to focus on being higher up on the food chain. I just brushed it off to avoid conflict, but was I really being classified? Was I treated differently because I earned good grades? I didn’t feel like I put a whole lot of effort into my work. My teachers gave me homework every night but it never took more than an hour, at the very most, to complete. I never felt like I was especially smarter than all the other people in my grade. I thought all the other kids...

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...no opportunity at an AP test or a math class past algebra. Formal schools are preparing much less then half of the population for success and the rest are being prepared just to get by. There is nothing wrong with slowing down material for students who struggle, but nothing good will come from making the substance easier all together. “Dramatically altered assumptions aligned with educational research findings and democratic values are required” if the American people hope to ever fix the huge problems in our educational system (Oakes 1986). Life is full of challenges and diversity, which are two things that American schools are lacking greatly in. There has to be way to teach our kids all together with integrated heritages and intelligences. We just have to do more research on students’ actual work and initiative and less on their parents’ wallets and backgrounds.
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