When considering what the most important American Creed values are as a person and as a teacher, I begin to realize that everyone may have a different answer. The American creed to me is a set of values, one decides is important to them as they pursue their American dream. Nonetheless the creed values that one picks is a reflection of their values, character and past experiences, especially with their experience with the “American Dream.” I found giving back to one’s community, the ability to reinvent yourself, and education to be important American Creed values to me as a citizen and as a teacher. The best way to act out these creeds or values in my opinion is to want to and learn how to integrate yourself with others, inside and outside of your “community.’ I believe with an open heart and willingness to accept others, one can reach their American dream while helping others.
The first value that I think is most important is to help others once you become established, or even if you were born into wealth. I think that often when people become wealthy or make it in the world they do not think about where they came from and the people who are left behind. And the only reason, besides hard work and good decisions that someone makes it out of poverty into wealth is opportunities. Someone can have more opportunities and resources than the next person and that is okay. But it is important to always give back. Allow others to be able to have a chance, even if how you give back is not a large gesture. Someone who I think of to be a great influence for this way of thinking is LeBron James. He went to the NBA, made a bunch of money and is still currently in the NBA. But he was not always wealthy and in a good place. He is from Akron Ohio, a place that lost its money, lust and hope after industry left, leaving an impoverished city. LeBron was aware of that and acknowledges that his city was failing, not only economically but through education. So, he decided to create a school to give back to the students. A school that would help students get their education at a school that is up to date in every way. But the school also helps parents find jobs. This is a way he rebuilt his community, even after he left. In the video American Creed, Rice mentions how her grandfather did the same. He made it and wanted to help his town; he created churches and schools. This was his way of giving back to his community and his people to help them be able to better themselves with the resources and opportunities these schools and churches granted. Just like LeBron. And as American’s it is our duty to take care of one another and help build a better nation for the next generations.
The second value I found to be important as a teacher and as a citizen is the thought that America allows you to reinvent yourself. I think that is important to consider because it gives hope that, it does not matter what class, lifestyle or family you were born in, you have the ability to change the cycles of your past and become someone great. You can be the one in your family to break the curse. That is something that induces hope and make people hopeful for their future. The idea that you can be the one to be the change, the one to make a difference, whether that means coming out of poverty, being an activist, being a politician for change. No matter what it is, you can reinvent, and better yourself.
The third creed I find important, and probably the most important is education. Education plays such an important role in our society and rightfully so. Education and knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you. And in American Creed, Kennedy mentions how his father was unable to further his education because when the Great Depression hit, he had to go to work. And Kennedy was a first generation college student. I can relate to that in some ways. My mother went back to school later in her life, but she was not a traditional student. But my parents have always instilled the importance of education into me, as I mentioned, and the importance of not being stuck in a class or in a way of life. I think you can only move up the latter truly, through education. If we want a better life for ourselves we have to be educated. But also if we want a better society, education is important as well. We have to make sure the people of our communities are receiving proper and correct education to help them be better members in society and have better lives, as we would for ourselves.
Education is important for more than just the school’s knowledge. But also for knowledge and experiences with others. There are two elements to this thinking according to Dewey(1916).He said, “The first signifies not only more numerous and more varied points of shared common interest, but greater reliance upon the recognition of mutual interests as a factor in social control.” There is multiple shared interest. My interpretation of the first element of was simply that there are people from numerous backgrounds, and views that are coming together for a common goal, or interest. I interpret this as a teacher, as a public school sporting event. There parents and students are coming together to support their children and others. In the success of the sport but also in the success of their students in the school.
Dewey’s second element, in my opinion is just a more narrowed version of the first element. The second element is “the recognition of mutual interests as a factor of shared social control.” which means “freer interaction between social groups.” This is hitting on groups of people who would usually isolate themselves from others, wanting to come together. And not just coming together but interacting, which really does make a difference. When people from other groups come together to interact, and to do so freely, then there are more opportunities for these groups of people to notice the similarities they possessed. Often times there are groups that isolate themselves from one another without realizing all the similarities they have despite all of their differences.
I see these two elements in my primary and secondary schooling. In grade school and middle school I went to catholic school. I often interacted with high middle class, low upper class people. I made great friends with these students. But that was indeed not where I came from. And so often times I found myself surrounded by people society tells us will never see common ground with. Many of my friends were white, upper middle class and republican. While I was African American, middle, middle class and democratic. So beyond, color and socioeconomic status we were also different in religion and politics. But as I mentioned despite the differences, we all had many more similarities. We all were trying to graduate high school and go to a good college. And that was something that was recognized very early. And we were able to make that connection with one another. We were all trying to graduate to go to college and get a good job, so we could live our American dream. So we allowed ourselves to freely interact, because we wanted to, because we saw similarities and friendship was possible despite our different “groups” we came from. We saw that we shared the same values, even though we had different backgrounds. So school (although a private catholic school) was a public institution that allowed and encouraged the integration of all peoples.
In order for students to see the value of two different groups coming together to reach a goal, the American dream, they have to be taught. They have to be taught the importance of others as well as themselves in curriculum. There is a lot of pressure as a teacher to ensure that students get a good balance of education, so they are not completely centered around themselves and their people, but that they also aren’t only being taught about others as well. A great philosophy of education that I think makes sure of that is the philosophy drawn from Waghid(2004). His educations purpose to me is the foundation, to create a well-rounded student. His educations purpose includes teaching student’s virtues like kindness, benevolence, courtesy and respect and concern for others. That is an important virtue to me and I think it has a connection with Dewey and his two elements. The conscious effort in making sure that students are aware of themselves and others. Also, it allows room for more than just western hegemony, in the curriculum. An openness for other cultures and for them to be seen with equal value. Again, Dewey’s elements are aligned with this thinking. Dewey explains the importance of different groups coming together for a common reason. I feel that Waghid, seeing education of others outside of western homogony allows a better chance for students to integrate with others. Usually the more you know about another group, the more similarities you are able to find, so if that is taught in school it will expedite the process so to speak. Since often times in the United States, education is very Western, European and American. Which in turn can leave out an entire people. But Waghid is explaining that in South Africa that is also the case. And the people of that land are learning about others rather than themselves. So, I do see a need for philosophies like Waghid are important to consider in curriculum as well. Waghid goes on to quote Higgs (2003, pp.16-17) by explaining that African philosophy “respects diversity, acknowledges lived experience and challenges the hegemony of Western Eurocentric forms of universal knowledge.” Waghid (p. 128). Also, the preferred curriculum, or what should be studied is the community’s “intellectual skills.” This means allowing the community and their skills to be announced and considered in their curriculum. The role of the teacher here is to draw attention as well as intertwine the value of the students and their local knowledge and culture and its impact into the curriculum to connect to the students. The job of the students is to use this information, knowledge and skills to go into their communities and better them. Making this world a better place slowly.
At the end of the day, everyone is working to get to their American Dream. Everyone may not all are the same Creed values to get to that dream but I personally found many things to be important to getting to the American dream. The idea of reinventing one’s self, the ability to become who you want, no matter where you are from. Also giving back to your community, helping people from where you are from get to their American dream as well. Thirdly I found that education is something that you cannot do without to get to your American Dream. And schooling is the most basic and one of the best places for someone to receive their education. It is also a place where people from different “groups” are able to come together. They are coming together for a common goal which is to eventually also get to their American Dream. In order for two groups to come together and function completely I think it is important to ensure that there is knowledge of each other. And Waghid explains the importance of more than just Western education in school. As well as teaching the skills of the community. This will ensure a well-rounded student which will also ensure a well-rounded citizen. And the goal is not just to reach the American dream but to be a better person once you get there. And make sure your community is in a better place as well.
- (2017). Retrieved October 1, 2018, from https://www.americancreed.org/watch
- Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/852/852-h/852-h.htm
- Waghid, Y. (2004). Revisiting the African- American philosophy of education debate. Implications for University Teaching,34, 128-142. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
What is the American Dream to You by Deja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.