Martin Luther and my interpretations of his views on the treatise of scholar and education. In other words, this report focuses on the scholar's possible view of our modern day American society and its educational practices. From the scholar's point-of-view, this report will attempt to propose possible proposals for school reform especially in the area of curriculum. The report is formatted in the form of an action plan that articulates a personal philosophy of teaching and identifies with Martin Luther as the selected scholar. For example, the report attempts to address areas of such as how our modern schools address the educational and conceptual frameworks of collaboration, social justice, diversity and critical self-reflection.
It is obviously important to note that society has evolved and that the issues of the sixteenth century although dictated by time are not all that different than what our schools face today. There may not have been a separation of church and state but there was a need for educational reformation. "It is sometimes forgotten that the Reformation was as much concerned with school as it was with church and home. Appreciating the role of education in directing church and society back to the source of the Christian faith, the reformers were committed to the schooling of the young." (Faber, 1998)
There is no doubt that Martin Luther appreciated the structured approach of schools since one of his first official acts as a reformer was an attempt to convert existing monasteries schools. "For Luther, of course, education was grounded in the study of Scripture, a study that was to take place both within homes and schools. Committed by the First Amendment to separation of church and state and to freedom of religious expression, pluralistic America of the twenty-first century is very different from Luther's Germany of the sixteenth century." (Harran, 2004) Many of the underlying foundation of the modern public schools systems around the world owe a great deal to the sixteenth century Reformation and Martin Luther. "In home, school, church, and community, fostering that awareness and understanding is the purpose of education and the responsibility of educators. No challenge is more urgent than empowering young people courageously to step into the stream of human events, refusing to stand upon the shore as bystanders." (Harran, 2004) Who better to use as a scholar for this particular work.
I believe that Martin Luther would agree with the notion that our graduates should not only have a desire for collaboration, but should also strive to develop the bonds within a school's collaborative learning environment. Luther lived in a time where only the wealthy or well connected received an education. This class isolationism went against the philosophies of today where diversity and interdependent social cultures strive to exist. "In opposition to those who saw education as the privilege of only a few, Luther argued vociferously for compulsory education for all, recognizing the value of each individual before God. In an age in which only a few could afford to attend school and women received little if any education, Luther eloquently argued for expanding educational opportunities." (Harran, 2004)
Luther believed that a universal educational opportunity offered more to society and that mass education would be more advantageous because of the fact that it offered more collaborative opportunities. In the words of Martin Luther, "My dear sirs, if we have to spend such large sums every year on guns, roads, bridges, dams and countless similar items to insure the temporal peace and prosperity of a city, why should not much more be devoted to the poor neglected youth?" (Harran, 2004) Luther believed that society would benefit if more individuals were given the opportunity to improve themselves and he also seemed to understand that this process should include more collaborative educational methods.
I also agree with the idea of collaborative educational methods and goals. I also believe that as teachers, we should promote the idea of students working together so they can learn from one another and at the same time extend their willingness and ability to interact and learning outside of the classroom. Today's kids need PDA's and other technology just to keep up with their own and friend's busy schedules. Between commuting, extra curricular activities and homework, students may find that it is hard to coordinate with their peers.
That is why we as teachers must create scenarios that promote togetherness through properly applying classroom settings, the use of technology and sound planning to eliminate the barriers of collaboration. It is a teachers responsibility to create an atmosphere that provides a comfortable setting for contribution by all, enable collaboration without regard to time or place and to help students learn from each other no matter what their diverse backgrounds might be.
Luther was an advocate of a well conceived educational process. "Writing in times far different than ours, Luther underscored the importance of a curriculum that truly engages young people and that inspires them to a genuine love of learning in all its many forms." (Harran, 2004) This atmosphere can only occur if the teachers and administrative entities support critical self-reflection by the teachers. Teachers can only provide curriculums that engage if they themselves are up-to-date in their personal reflections and educations.
I also agree with the fact that self-awareness, professional development and personal achievement by teachers are areas that are critical to the success of the entire educational process. Professional development for example can be considered important in the realm of critical self-reflection because it is a vital piece of the teaching puzzle. Teachers who evaluate their needs and performance can use professional development opportunities to stay current with the new or available practices in teaching, learning and presentation.
Consider that a large number of math teachers simply place far too much influence and credence on outdated text books and techniques. "Even while educators work to reduce the dominance of text-based learning in mathematics classrooms, publishers and teachers need to explore new modes of publication that will enable good innovative ideas to enter expeditiously into typical classroom practice." (National Research Council 1989, p. 67) Self-reflection will provide opportunities to change.
Martin Luther and his reformers were the most social conscious individuals of their time. "The reformations that he promoted were basically social justice reformations. Luther believed that the existing class system was not fair and that all classes should receive the opportunity for an education. "Not only would the state benefit from a reformed education, but also - and especially - the church." (Faber, 1998) In the sixteenth century, those who could not read or write were forced to learn their religious scriptures form the religiously factions thus putting the poor and uneducated at a distinct disadvantage. Luther promoted that all individuals be educated and therefore eliminate those social injustices.
Similar to the unfair class separation of Luther's times, I believe we must address the social injustices of our times. "Schools in the United States face a multiplicity of challenges, from gaining adequate funds to hiring well-qualified and dedicated teachers to meeting the ever-increasing obligations of state-mandated testing to determining policy about such complex issues as bi-lingual education." (Harran, 2004)
We today face the distinction of having schools in poor urban areas that have no books, are literally unsafe, have no clean running water and certainly few to no good teachers while less than a mile down there could be an affluent school with a plethora of extras and well manicured lawns. Social justice always boils down to the haves and the have not's. Consider the differentiation with the technology have line today. Schools that can afford new technology have it in abundance and every child has access to the internet and other educational tools. But, in our urban communities there are whole high schools that may only have five or six computers and those are for administrative applications.
Today we are more adept at working with the special needs of race, ethnicity, class, cultural and linguistic diversity, religion, gender, sexuality and special needs. In Martin Luther's sixteenth century, diversity was focused more on the differences between rich and poor and religious preference was a one way street. So when he wrote or worked to reform the system, he was trying to incorporate those who were considered to be the minorities of their time.
Yet, whether the differences were color or religion is not relevant. The key is that there was a need for reform with the existing process just like we have a need for change in our modern day educational process. "The need for educational reform was urgent at the beginning of the sixteenth century. At that time there existed no school system as such, and teaching was often limited to the children of wealthy merchants and city rulers. In many places the Roman Catholic church supervised the training of the youth in monasteries, cloisters, and other church-run institutions. But these were falling into disrepute and disrepair, as the…