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Educating the "Military Way"


In a recent Education Week Commentary, Hugh B. Price writes that incorporating military techniques into education could help millions of American students who are lagging behind. The "military way" has helped struggling young people for decades by stressing belonging, teamwork, literacy, safety, and rewards, he writes.

While military-style programs shouldn't be unleashed on a national scale, he argues that such initiatives should be piloted and tested in local communities.

What do you think? Should the "military way" be incorporated into schools? Is this a promising strategy for teaching underachieving youths?


The "military style" of education has been in existense for centuries. There are numerous academies that use the uniform, team oriented, disciplined way of teaching and learning. There are many military type programs in most public school. The most noticeable, and clearest example is in physical education. There is research available that suggests that the focused, disciplined, military type of teaching is effective with students that are otherwise unmotivated or easily distracted. This type of education is, unfortunately often court ordered and a part of juvenile "bootcamp" programs.
The lesson of military type training is that a strong focused, team oriented learning situation can be very effective.

When I went to school it wasn't called a "military education" it was called "parochial education".
We did have a different definition of uniform though.
In addition to beautiful penmanship, it has done me very well.

Some military teaching methods are good. Those that respect rights and individualism are superior to those that marginalize individuals and empasize only teamwork.

Those military types that respect the US Constitution are superior to those who believe that "the end justifies the means."

Military schools in the past have been successful when they make a great effort to evaluate the true skills and abilities of individuals, respect those skills and talents and then make the greatest use of them.

Self-discipline is better than forced discipline. Respect for individual talent and ingenuity is better than "one-size-fits-all" just to maintain power and control like a dictatorship.

The best militaries believe in democracy and stand up for principle, honor and integrity. They resist corruption within their own ranks.

I do not have any problem with incorporating a "military style" atmosphere in our school system. Discipline, respect, team work, etc. are all excellent attributes that every child should possess.

I agree with the author that it should not be incorporated on a large scale, not because it would not be effective but because the American public is not ready for such a change they would resist it without giving it a chance.

A great number of our inner city kids lack discipline and stucture; something that a miltary training would provide. Goal setting and self esteem would also be postive residual effects.

I am somewhat nuetral on the proposal to use military teaching tactics in our schools. I do agree that today's children are more exposed, more rebelious have too much freedom and need firm direction. However,I our school systems are there to guide and direct children not to impose tactics on them and force them to the right way. In fact a boot camp like structure may meet rebelion from students in urban areas, whose main
Basically my question is to what extent are we going to use this military system in education. Because I feel that children need to know that most importantly they have the power to controll their own destiny becaus they have choicec in life. As adults we must allow the child to make wise and beneficial choices.

I believe a military style of education could be effective with our troubled, lazy, or uncaring student that is falling behind, such as those coming from families that have many problems. It could provide the children with discipline and respect and force them to strive for success if implimented correctly. Stressing belonging, teamwork, literacy, safety, etc. could be very rewarding. However, if a military style of education was implimented into a public school, children with different disabilities, such as ADHD, Dyslexia, etc. might have many problems and mainstreaming might be difficult to do in these situations. Children with certain disabilities could benefit from this style of education while others might suffer. There are different pros and cons that must be weighed. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? In this case, I think they would.

As a teacher at the first public military academy in Chicago, I observed the students experience success. The focus of the school was college preparatory. What is not emphasized is that military schools teach leadership and team work. It promotes not only discipline in behavior, but also discipline in organizational skills. Most parents do not realize that the skills military schools teach are similar to skills that are required to lead successful and responsible lives as citizens in a democracy.

Military training programs emphasize "Outcomes," expecially in the tech schools. Classes would last 3 hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. Much of the class work was hands-on. There was NO homework. Everything was done in class. The program was very successful. Classes were small...no more than 15 people.... I went through the SE Signal School at Camp Gordon in the 50s. Unfortunately, the term "Outcomes" has become a no-no. This aspect of military training would be beneficial.

As a retired career soldier (US Army), I came into teaching in public school by way of Department of Defense Troops To Teacher program. My transition to the classroom was supported by the structure, focus, and discipline gained by my military service. Students, although young, have similar issues to those of adults. Teaching and modeling motivation, responsibility/accountability, team development, and decision making process (critical thinking) skills assist students not only in learning but assist them in becoming confident in their own abilities. Once confidence is acquired, educational success is and will be the outcome. An attentive and disciplined audience (students), with engaged parents or guardians, is what is needed for educational success. In conclusion, all students can gain from a military format regardless of socio-economic level. Intangibles which cause failure cut across the socio-economic strata.

I agree with the idea of implementing military principles in schools today.but it should starts off in stages, where the first batch of students will go through the initial application of military system and continues progressively apply ing the complete military system towards the end of the highschool.This will work better than to apply it at the early primary level, where the kids aren't ready mentally, psychologically, physically and mentally ready to understand the reasons why they do need such system.

Research needs to be completed first to determine those aspects that are effective (as highlighted in the original report on National Guard Youth Challenge Academies).

This method of instruction isn't for everyone but by IDing those effective components they could make an impact on everyone.

It should be noted that the call was for higher ed. to take the lead and study these programs (not the Pentagon).

I am accepting this challenge and invite others to help me identify those aspect of these programs that make them so successful so we can help K-12 use them in their programming to benefit those student who presently dropout of our schools and become the victims of the streets join gangs, sell drugs etc. etc.

I can be reached at [email protected] if you are interested in a further research study.

Kids on the short end of the achievement gap could potentially be prime candidates for the "military" approach in school. Many of these individuals lack structure in their lives and would benefit enormously from a regimented style. Structure, under the appropriate circumstances, can be perceived as caring and love for youngsters lacking in this most primitive of human needs.

As a military veteran, I have carried over into my teaching career many positive aspects learned during my Marine Corps service. Those I would definitely like to see incorporated into public schools. However, there are also negative aspects of military training that be completely inappropriate. Integrity, personal responsibility, and moral courage--yes! Intimidation, harassment, and public belittling--no!

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Recent Comments

  • Gail Ritchie, Instructional Coach: As a military veteran, I have carried over into my read more
  • Paul Hoss: Kids on the short end of the achievement gap could read more
  • Ted Mauro/Clemson university: Research needs to be completed first to determine those aspects read more
  • Faiidzah Mustami: I agree with the idea of implementing military principles read more
  • R. B. Muhammad/Middle School Teacher/Parent: As a retired career soldier (US Army), I came into read more




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