Educational reform : an analysis of Lester Thurow's proposal from an existentialist perspective
Armstrong, Peter T.
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The study is a philosophic approach to educational reform. An existential perspective of education is compared to that of a proposal for educational reform by Lester Thurow, former Dean of the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. Recent educational reform movements are reviewed to put Mr. Thurow's proposals in context. The existential perspective of education concentrates on the individual and the teacher-pupil relationship. Thurow's approach emphasizes an economically changing world and how the education of students must fit the new economic reality. Research questions are posed by the study. Whose interests should education serve? Should education serve the interests of the economy? How are the interests of the individual met? How does the teacher-pupil relationship affect the learning process? Can the interests of the economy and also the individual be accommodated? Who determines what is to be studied? The interests of the individual are best served, as is the economy, when education is a process of learning, reflection, and discovery for the individual. Existential education reveals to the student who the individual is and what makes life meaningful. Thurow's proposal reflects the external world of the individual with regard to the econo- my to determine the student's direction. The result is a process that is limiting in scope in determining a meaningful life for the individual. What already exists is accepted and not what could be. The study compares and contrasts Thurow's educational proposals with an existential educational perspective in areas of educational aims, methodology, and curriculum. Recommendations of the study promote the existential perspective based on democratic localism as responsive to students' needs. National mandates that reflect economic interests embrace what is and not what can be. An existential curriculum is influenced by the student's interests in an engaged learning and discovery process. The curriculum reflecting the student is promoted as a catalyst for action and not a reaction to what already exists. The business approach interferes with the potential for change.