The author presents a much broader concept of what the point of schooling is that includes preparing individuals for becoming competent caring adults. I have often noticed that some of the highest performing students are comparatively less well developed socially.
On the other hand, I disagree somewhat with Kohns conclusion that preparing students for vocational success is necessarily an all-or-none proposition that corrupts education for corporate needs to the extent it focuses on vocational training (Kohn, 2003). While I agree that any strict focus on vocational training undermines the most essential purpose of education, I have always believed that it could accomplish both goals simultaneously instead of producing students who are virtually completely unprepared to perform vocationally when they first enter the workforce. If anything, learning skills like project management, interpersonal communications in various media, and other necessary vocational skills could be better incorporated into the college curriculum without sacrificing the quality of academic education.
Likewise, I have come to believe that contemporary education unreasonably requires students to continue in areas of academic subjects that are contrary to the students known intellectual interests and natural aptitudes much longer than necessary.
In my opinion, one of the most beneficial ways that education could prepare students for a fulfilling career is to promote their independent development of a course of study that reflects personal preference by the beginning of secondary school rather than only at the very end of high school in the last two academic years.
Kohn (2003) also argues that rote memorization and the arbitrary selection of lessons and age-old reading selections do not further the aims of providing the most relevant or useful education. This has also always seemed rather obvious to me as well.
To the extent education must include any required courses of study, those mandatory courses (and lessons) should be exclusively those that relate to necessary skills or subject matter that serves a specific function and never merely perpetuate the assumptions made many generations ago that certain “classic” works of literature are important enough for all students to study in high school.
In my opinion, reading, writing, analysis, and reasoning are all important skills that should be taught in high school; however, the insistence of teaching those skills primarily through the same literary works available our parents and grandparents is nonsensical and counterproductive.
Finally, Kohn (2003) raises the issue of social connotations of what a “good education” means, apart from any relation to the actual quality of the instruction or academic material within a given academic institution. As Kohn points out, in many contexts, the name recognition of institutions of higher learning are associated with very specific elements of social class that really have very little to do with academic quality, necessarily. In many respects, this is an aspect of contemporary society that is not limited to education; in fact, it parallels the larger social preoccupation with arbitrary associations between high status or social privilege and designer clothes, status symbol watches and automobiles, and a celebrity-oriented (or public recognition-oriented) social culture in general. In the educational realm, these contemporary values often attach much greater significance to the name of the academic institution one attends than to what one learns during the educational journey.
Kohn, a. (2002). The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation. The Chronicle of Higher Education; Vol. 49, Issue.