Individuality vs. Conformity in Education

There are different stages in a human’s life: going from toddler to adolescence to young adult to adult and then to elderly. School, which prominently affects the first stages, has a significant influence on the mindset and actions taken by these youthful students who are in the first stages. In order for schools to successfully exploit this opportunity, they should prepare students for future life conditions and restrain the negative human impulses in a conforming manner. But also schools should permit students to be creative in both mind and life.

During the 20th century, the United States experienced major social and political changes including that of the Great Society programs by President Johnson called the Head Start program. Similar to modern-day school systems, the purpose of the Head Start program was to create a unified system that would allow the majority of children to be able to fairly receive preparation for future life. Especially if these future environments involve democratic social behavior and the prioritization between an individual’s needs and the group’s’ interests, schools should be preparing students with future life simulations so that the students would have prior knowledge and experience in encountering such a situation in the future. And so, schools are expected to be able to prepare students for future life conditions, especially those revolved around society, in order to teach students to conform.

Furthermore, the human psychology involves not only the positive sentiments but also the negative sentiments. In order for schools to inhibit these unwanted negative aspects of the psyche to appear in the youths of society, schools should create a set of rules in order to restrain these human impulses from occurring in the first place. Similar to the laws and regulations passed by both local and federal governments, these restrictions by either school or government is meant to protect society from the evils of negative emotions such as greed, selfishness, and narcissism. Such expectations schools have for students includes to be respectful of the teacher’s position as a leader in the classroom and to be considerate to and respectful of others. Instead of causing or strengthening possible negative impulses, these expectations are more likely to create positive ones such as respect and gratitude. Thus, school systems should be able to create a set of rules in order to restrain negative human impulses and promote positive ones for a conforming democratic society.

However, conformity should not be the only aspect schools strive for: individuality is also necessary in order for there to be creativity, uniqueness, and a more likely chance for change. This conflict between conformity and individuality has always existed, originating from the time of the Renaissance where after the Classical Revival, Europeans began to realize the importance of individuality and how it allows a diverse variety of thoughts, talents, and innovations to grow and flourish. Without individuality, the school would be a “dull and ugly place, where…everybody is playing…a role, as in a charade…”. With either extremes of individuality or conformity, there is a major and important part of humanity lost: be it creativity or chemistry. And so, school systems should not only be able to permit students to be creative and find their own individuality so that they could acclimate but also prepare students for a democratic and conforming world.

Therefore, although the individual extremes of conformity and individuality are negative in its effect on the progeny of society, when these ideals of conformity and individuality intermix, then schools will be able to better prepare students for life via life preparations, the restrainment of impulses, and the perpetual support for creativity.

Do you agree with the importance of this equilibrium in between conformity and individuality in the education system? If not, which do you think is more important and why?

What do you think?



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