Branches of Learning
When one composes a research paper on the branches of learning, there are several broad categorizations that can be made. First, one can classify one’s branch of learning based on the type of degree one earns: this is primarily broken down into the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. The roots of these branches of learning can be traced to the Middle Ages, when individuals studied either the three fields of grammar, logic and rhetoric, leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, or the four fields of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, which led to the Bachelor of Science degree.
Defining the Branches of Learning
As time passed, the definitions of these branches of learning became more diverse, integrating more subject areas as they emerged and allowing students the opportunity to specialize in one or more of these fields. Today, different branches of learning are often identified by the suffix –ology, translating to “the study of” a given field. For example:
- Biology is the study of the sciences related to life, be it plants or animals.
- Theology is the study of religion.
- Sociology is the study of societies and how they interact with each other as well as how individuals interact within them.
Branches of learning do not need to be defined by this suffix in today’s educational system, but many content areas are. Various fields do exist, though, including business administration, chemistry, and political science, among countless others, demonstrating the wide array of opportunities for today’s students.
Democracy in the Branches of Learning
There are many educators and researchers who continue to tout the paramount importance of citizenship training, or education for democracy, as it is referred to in much of the extant published literature on the subject. In the next section of this paper, the content and necessity of citizenship training will be discussed and assessed.
Although the precise definition of education for democracy, citizenship training, or civics classes vary widely according to age level and region, most share similar goals – to instill a foundational knowledge of the workings of the government in students, as well the loftier goal of preparing students for lives as active participants in the democratic process.
In recent years, these types of courses have been stripped from many curricula with the operant assumption that these objectives could foreseeable be achieved through alternate means. Administration officials responsible for curricular revision have noted that the fundamental concepts previously conveyed in stand-alone civics classes can just as easily be imparted in other classes that are already included in the curriculum.
In some instances, school systems have even indicated that parents could conceivably share a larger portion of the responsibility for instilling the basics of citizenship and democratic practices in their children, either by way of informal discussions or by demonstrating first-hand examples of taking part in an election, and other similar activities.
For a variety of reasons not limited to these, citizenship training has been eliminated from public school systems in much of the United States. However, the lack of participation in the democratic process in recent years has resulted in renewed calls for its reinsertion in the required curriculum of American public school children.
John Dewey's View of the Branches of Learning
John Dewey is often cited in the debate regarding civics instruction and it seems likely that Dewey himself would advocate the hands-on participation in the democratic process that some school systems have suggested is in the province of parents. It would be difficult to compose a research paper on the branches of learning and not discuss Dewey. Although Dewey did stress the importance of using education to bolster the participation of the citizenry in the democratic process, he makes no specific mention of a class designed to instill these virtues through direct transmission of civics instruction. Instead, Dewey held that the free participation and collaboration that typified his proposed educational system would in itself engender a generation of children who, as adults, naturally gravitated towards active participation in and support of democratic principles.
Recent studies have suggested that students entering college are less politically aware and less politically active than ever before. The current sociocultural milieu has had the net effect of disintegrating the unifying categories of political activity and awareness that were present in previous generations. In order to counteract this effect, many educators and scholars suggest that a systematic curriculum of civics instruction and citizenship training may help to engender a keener interest in all of the phases of the democratic process.
One of the current arguments being advanced in scholarly journals for educators holds that a course of instruction commonly referred to as “democracy education” be implemented into the curriculum of American public school children. Although various contentions outline different plans, most agree that such a program should be prevalent from the time a student initially enters primary school, through their completion of high school.
Although proposed curricula also vary slightly, there are several over arching themes in democracy education that remain constant. These include imparting a thorough understanding of the functions and workings of the American government, instilling a belief in the political and moral significance of participation in the democratic process, and giving students the critical thinking tools necessary to begin their lives as adult citizens in a constitutional educational democracy.