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Playing School

Education is viewed as a stepping-stone for the learners to create a better future for themselves and their families. Education is meant to provide a way for the learners to express themselves in the best way possible. It is supposed to enable students achieve their best potential out of the situation they find themselves in. Unfortunately, the education system is subject to many human factors which serve to derail the set objectives. The aim of this paper is to look at the factors that make the education system not to be as effective as it is supposed to be.

Playing school can be defined as the process whereby the educators and the students fall into a routine whereby they feel and behave as if being mediocre is a normal thing. According to Fried, when the educators and students become entangled in this scenario, they view the situation as normal hence feel as if they are stuck. To them, they view this as inevitable thus they do not have a choice but to bear with it until the situation passes. “Teachers console each other to “just hold on till June”. Fried describes the situation of being stuck as a situation whereby the educator or student feels as if the education world i.e. the teachers, students and parents being extremely stressful and not friendly for learning. As a result, the people affected by this scenario do not seek to solve this issue. Rather, they adapt to the situation and make do with what they have in their plates. This turns into a routine, which is continuously, perpetuated thus creating a cycle of stressed individuals. This eventually leads to educational paralysis; situations where the learners are unable to gain new knowledge whist the educators are unable to fulfill their roles of imparting knowledge upon their students.

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The education system is affected by various factors. These include the past experiences, the community that one finds him or herself in and the cultural practices of the community. What is regarded as good or bad is unfortunately derived these benchmarks rather than the universal law. Getting stuck can be attributed to three main sources: sexual identity of the participants, their gender and race.

Sexual identity or sexuality plays a significant factor in how an individual portrays himself in the community. The community has various expectations from the members. A person’s sexuality determines what roles one is expected to undertake. Most communities regard the “normal” sexual orientation of its members to be heterosexual. Thus a deviation from the norm is met with skepticism. The community is filled with heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals. The perception of the community ultimately determines how the education system is shaped up. It leads to the educators and students who are regarded as acceptable to be outgoing while the rest are withdrawn and tend to keep to them.

Gender roles in most communities are clearly laid out. Our society generally believes in the fact that men are perceived as the leaders while the womenfolk are followers. This transcends the education system whereby the males are given opportunities as leaders over their female counterparts who are only regarded as normal teachers. This perception puts a strain on the education system which limits its individual members. As a result the system has to be feminized. This involves sensitization of the members and outsiders to the fact that female educators are just as good at their work as their male companions. Gender roles have in a long while portrayed females as the best educators. This serves as a disadvantage to the men in the field as they are treated with suspicion.

The race of the educators and the students plays a role in getting stuck while playing school. In most cases, the educator is equipped to deal with one particular scenario whilst the students come from a variety of backgrounds. The educator is ill-equipped to deal with the situation thus gets stuck. The most dominant culture of the community is adopted by the educators as the norm for the whole system. The educators assume that since it is the most recognizable culture, all the students are able to understand and accept it. This is not the truth as students come from varied backgrounds thus it defeats the purpose of education. The other students feel left out and stuck.

Teachers are members of the community thus are subject to the assumptions that are deemed to be true by the community. This clouds their judgment in several instances. The education system is designed to create a particular type of person at the end of the day. This serves to produce an individual that is in most cases a contrast of the person who enrolled into the system in the beginning. The student struggles to maintain a sense of individuality despite the new person he is expected to become. For example, students from the Southside described by Delpit, are expected to leave their culture at the school door and expected to behave like their white counterparts. They literarily have to become a different person while in school. The system also thrives on stereotypes such as the fact that when a Latino student aces his exams he automatically cheated; or all Asian college kids have difficulty with English. On the other hand, most educators and students practice internalized racism. This is never actively or consciously practiced but is received none the less by the target group. In other situations, the curriculum is never followed as the educators feel they know what is best.

The aim of an education system is to produce a well-rounded individual who is capable of reproducing whatever he has learnt in class into the real world. The person should also be able to come up reasonable solution to a problem at hand. This is only possible if both the educators and the students are willing to venture out of their comfort zones: where they feel most secure, and challenge themselves. On the other hand, they should be able to understand the gender roles, race and sexuality of all members of the society. This enables them to become better at whatever they are meant to do.

The primary theme of this essay is to ensure that an educator does not get stuck playing school. This is achieved by the educator using his or her own experiences to ensure that the students are able to learn new things at the end of the day. This is possible if the educator puts himself in the shoes of the students. The educator should also know that good intentions do not always produce the best results. Thus he should seek to do what is right depending on the situation at hand and not use his powers and privileges to impose his ways on the students.

On the other hand, teachers should be supported in achieving their goals by their colleagues and leaders. For example veteran teachers can serve as role models for new in-experienced teachers. Teachers should empower students to learn new things. This encourages collaboration between teachers and students and amongst students themselves. This speeds up the process of learning.

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