This I Believe

Joan - Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 17, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I believe that America still has the best education system in the world. Right now it is going through some conflicts with everyone trying to “fix” what does not need fixed and by doing so, they are putting some major stumbling blocks in the path of the teachers. This too shall pass.

I am currently teaching a developmental writing class at Harrisburg Area Community College after retiring from thirty-five years in the public school system. I have seen many changes in education and retired shaking my head over the things the current government was doing to ruin what I thought was a great system. My students left high school and succeeded in college. I thought I was doing a good job. The government thought otherwise. I retired feeling despondent over the state of education in this country. I have now changed my mind.

I currently have many foreign born students in my class and, by allowing them to choose subject matter for their essays, I have learned something positive regarding the educational system of this country. One young lady has earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from Syracuse University in New York. In an essay she commented that only ten percent of the total enrollment in that program consisted of native born Americans. The other ninety percent came from predominantly Asian countries. This statement could lead one to believe that only ten percent of Americans are educated enough to enter this demanding field. I choose to believe that it shows that American universities are so great that a high percentage of foreign students choose to study at our colleges.

If we are so poorly educating our students, then why are our universities attracting so many from foreign lands? Why would they not choose to study in their own countries? Americans can and do educate our citizens well.

Another student wrote an essay contrasting the education in his homeland to what he experienced in America and the prime difference was in the role of the student. He commented that in America, the student was actually encouraged to question and allowed to disagree with the teacher. In his home country the student was told to take notes and memorize what the teacher told him. It would be wrong to question that teacher. He was very surprised when students in his classes in this country put up their hands and asked questions. He was stunned when they disagreed with what the teacher had just told the class. To his amazement, the teacher then proceeded to enter into a discussion with the student and encourage others to join them.

This, I believe, is the prime reason why America’s educational system is so great. We encourage our young people to question authority and disagree with the rulers. This questioning often appears to be the proof that our system is flawed, but I totally disagree. It shows that our system works. It shows that we are truly educating our young, not simply training them. America definitely has the best educational system in the world, this I believe.