What Makes a School Great?

Published 19 Apr 2017

Table of content


In today’s chaotic world, where one sees more jails than schools being built, it is more important than ever for education to take top priority in the proper development of young people into productive, responsible adults. With this in mind, the consideration of what makes a school great is very important. This paper will attempt to answer this question, mainly from the viewpoint of a recent Newsweek magazine article. In summarizing that article, the issue of what makes a school great will be answered.

Overview of the Article

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In the article entitled “What Makes a School Great”, Newsweek magazine recently tackled the question of what makes schools great. In a broad sense, the Newsweek writers, after interviewing students and educators, came to the general conclusion that the best thing that a school can do in achieving greatness, which is to say that the school provides the best educational experience for the student, is that the school does not take a “one size fits all” approach to students. Not all students can reach their full potential under identical conditions (Newsweek, 2007). Therefore, being able to provide the type of individualized educational experience that maximizes the benefits of the school for each student requires a wide range of approaches to students. In the Newsweek article, those approaches were specified as follows:

Creation of Good Citizens- Preparing the student to function effectively in the ever changing world that they will face after completing school has to include the teaching of good citizenship, a curricula that has been neglected in recent decades (Kantrowitz & Wingert, 2006). Giving the individual a sense of obligation to be law abiding, productive members of society enhances the individual and the communities in which they live and work.

Creation of Liberal Arts- The offering of courses in literature, art and music allows for the student to develop not only their mind, but also the talents that may be latently within them; giving someone with musical ability, for example, the opportunity to excel in music gives them a huge boost to their self esteem and value as individuals. Sciences and the humanities are likewise important in the best schools of the 21st century as part of a well rounded education.

Preparation for Work- While many students will go on to college or another form of higher education following high school, it has become apparent that many students from working families may need to seek full time employment following high school. Therefore, the best schools are wisely preparing students for the working world immediately after high school through the offering of college-level courses, which also gives the opportunity for college-bound students to be prepared for the caliber of college coursework they are about to face.

Helping Boys and Girls Succeed Separately- By having some coursework where boys and girls are segregated, the educational process is not impeded by the sexes having to try to impress one another or something of that nature. This separation also promotes more culturally diverse education, by allowing culture to be the focus where gender differences were in the past (National Association of Multicultural Education, n.d.).

Emphasize Science and Technology- The world of today demands that students be well educated in the technological and scientific areas of discipline, if they are to compete globally and reach their fullest potential, in whatever career or educational path they choose to take.

Reach Out to Everyone- Schools of “yesterday” chose only to include students of one racial or ethnic group, economic level, and of course, those with a criminal past were excluded. As of late, however, the schools that wish for greatness have realized that by including students of all types into the school, their diverse experiences, backgrounds, and ambitions could benefit every student collectively. Without excluding anyone for whatever reason, a school can include diverse people who have the common desire to learn (National Association Of Multicultural Education, n.d.).

Conclusion- Greatness Revisited

In closing, the question of what makes a school great can be answered accurately after looking at the Newsweek article. Generally, schools become great by preparing students for the future, including all students regardless of background, and keeping in mind that boys and girls need different curricula in some cases. Additionally, emphasizing science, technology and liberal arts, as well as the needs of “working class” students are vital. When these elements are incorporated, a school can then reach greatness.


  • National Association of Multicultural Education. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from National Association of Multicultural Education
  • Tozer, Steven E; Violas, Paul C; Senese, Guy. School and Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (5th Ed). New York, McGraw-Hill.
  • What Makes a School Great. Newsweek. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from MSNBC Online
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