Effects of Schooling on Identity

In his Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant discusses what makes up identity. He suggests that identity comes from self-consciousness and that self-consciousness arises from a combination of ideas that a person calls their own. This combination of ideas arises as a result of understanding how things are related. This seems to mean that the more people relate different ideas in the same ways the more similar their personal identities.

So how does this factor into schooling? Schools are institutions in which students are taught to make connections in a specific way. For example, we learn relations between letters and words, colors and objects, reprimands or rewards and actions, etc. Everyone is taught to make these same connections. Furthermore, many schools are restrictive and do not allow for deviance. For example, in math class, a student may discover a new way to solve a problem, one that is different from the way the teacher explained. Although the student came up with the correct answer, the teacher reprimands the student, or takes points off a test because it was not the “right” way to solve the problem. This reinforces connections the teacher made earlier between the idea of correctness and her method of solving the problem.

I believe this shows the limiting effect of schooling. It creates fewer differences between the ways in which people combine their ideas and therefore fewer differences in identity.

2 responses to “Effects of Schooling on Identity

  1. You propose an interesting connection between identity and education. I agree that there is a limiting effect on schools, but it would be difficult for schools to adjust and compensate for every individual. This is why there is a standard way of doing things– solving problems, learning what is right and wrong. I would say that our identity is somewhat limited understand this scope, however I want to believe in the system. Because even though we are all under education system, we all deviate in one way or another. And sooner or later we do find ourselves, and who we really are.

  2. I agree with much of what you are saying. I don’t think that schools are so limiting that they result in every student being clones of one another or having the exact same identity, but it does make everyone more similar. I am not, however, arguing that this is necessarily negative. Creating more similar identities promotes a sense of unity among people. The education system in America, for example, teaches inches and feet, pounds, and degrees Fahrenheit. Because this is different from the rest of the world, it contributes to the American identity. In times of war, this unity can be extremely important to obtaining victory. It is essential in this discussion to recognize the difference between unity and uniformity.

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