This I Believe

Robert - Hickory, North Carolina
Entered on May 17, 2006

Our Schools are great, right ?

In our society today, one of the most important components is education. It is the responsibility of the current generation to educate the upcoming generation. I am dismayed by the current educational system. I have had personal experience with the American public school system for the past 12 years, frankly, I am very worried.

Students and classes can be simplified down to two core groups; High-level, and low-level. Both are important to the education of America’s youth and are integral to the future well-being of our nation.

Unfortunately, low-level courses make up the vast majority of classes, and are designed to educate the average person to be effective in society. These low-level classes don’t challenge students enough. It is far too easy for students to pass classes and they aren’t taught necessary skills. For example, in some classes, high school juniors still listen to book tapes rather than read the story! Now, when these students go out in the real world, will everything be read to them? What if they have to research a topic or analyze a contract or legal document? How can they be expected to be able to read properly when it isn’t even required of them in high school? Examples of lackluster education are far too prevalent in American schools. If one looks at equivalent classes in other countries such as Japan or Germany, the courses are much more rigorous and effective when compared to American schools. American schools teach students to be barely functional at a seven-eleven, and don’t even attempt to challenge them. Challenge them, and the scum will settle at the bottom of the barrel on its own, the school system doesn’t need to go ahead and put students there.

Shifting gears, let us discuss the high-level courses. The gifted and self-motivated students are educated here. This is an easier environment for teachers, as the students are eager to learn, or at least get good grades. But, still, there are flaws here as well. Sometimes there is too much stress and competition between students. While some stress and competition is good for learning, it is oftentimes overdone. Also, there isn’t enough emphasis placed on actually “learning.” I’ve seen many students that simply want to make an A, and don’t care about learning. More emphasis should be placed on the pursuit of knowledge, rather than the pursuit of A’s on a report card. This infatuation with grades alone can lead to cheating and the perversion of the school system from an institution of learning to a transcript generating institution. However, I have personally met with high-achieving students from Japan and Germany, and I am happy to report that American high level courses are on par with high level courses in those countries. Yet, it seems to me that those students are in a considerably less stressful environment.

Whether high-level or low-level, the American education system isn’t good enough and needs to be improved. Remember, the education of the future generation is the responsibility of the current generation.