By Puppy –
Recently, U.S. 12th graders have been ranked 18th out of the 21 countries by the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (Chronicle 23A). Forty percent of all 10-year-olds can’t meet basic literacy tests. Average SAT scores have dropped over the last 25 years and currently 30 percent of all college freshmen take remedial education classes (Gingrich). What is happening to our students? Who is to blame for these low test scores?
In order to answer these questions, we must start in the classroom. A statician at Michigan State University said that students were not to blame for the low grades, and that the “U.S. curriculum lacked coherence and rigorous challenge” (Chronicle 23A). He also said that Americans tried to teach too much. U.S. math text-books for eight-graders covered about 35 topics, compared to the average of seven in Germany and Japan. This would give teachers little time to explain each topic, and the students will start to lose interest in them.
What is the school atmosphere like? Some students at Westbury High School said that some of their teachers were too lenient about their teaching methods. “With one of my classes, we hardly do anything but read” (Duong Pham). They also added that they feel their teachers are too afraid of the students, and therefore would be at the mercy of the students. My teacher would give out an assignment, and usually the class would refuse to do it, “and she would sometimes go along with them and let them sit and talk” (Daniel Morgan).
If teachers are at the mercy of the students, then this presents a discipline problem. In Japan and the UK, teachers are highly respected. Here in America, students talking back to the teacher or disobeying them is almost an everyday thing, as depicted in the movie “Dangerous Minds”. “I always hear my [classmates] talking back to the teacher” (Chanthorn Sim). With comments like these, it is clear that the discipline structure of the U.S. school system is breaking down.
Other students disagree. One student praised his teacher and said that he was strict and threatened to leave the school if we get him mad. However, we have to take this into consideration: what makes a good teacher? Is it the teacher that lets you do little work in class and give you easy tests, or the strict ones that gives you plenty of homework and are always keeping your busy? Logical reasoning says that the strict teacher would be more likely to have smarter and prepared students.
In a simple survey done by late night show host Jay Leno, people were asked questions about Thanksgiving. When asked a simple question such as “Did the pilgrims come to America before Columbus?”, all of the answers were outrageous. What does this say about our society? Don?t we even know why we are celebrating a holiday? Also, a teacher once said “I bet everybody knows that Demi Moore’s cat was sick today, but no one knows who won the pulitzer prize.” Maybe intellectual knowledge isn’t highly valued in today’s society. The media glamourizes more on human beauty than human intellect.
The government of the United States is working into this problem. This problem needs to be resolved soon, especially when Texas has a teacher shortage. It seems that the real factor in the faling of the school systems is the student discipline. Fights occur in school almost every day, and teachers aren?t being strict enough. When we get up to say the pledge of allegiance in the morning, we could ponder the question ?are we saying this out of memory, or do we take time to think about what we are saying?? American students don?t seem to take pride in intellectualism, and this causes the U.S. to be looked down upon other countries. Students in the UK are far ahead of the U.S. students, and their tests are more complicated that a TAAS test. Standards for American students are set too low, and this causes students to be less prepared than students from other countries. A TAAS test in America is a simple daily quiz for students in japan, where their education is highly valued.
It?s not safe to say that not being an intellectual wouldn?t bring success in life. In fact, most celebrities were high school drop outs. But knowledge is the basis of a nation, and this country would need a strong intellect support to keep it running. Maybe these failing students might become famous one day and bring joy to the world, but how would we prepare them for a future filled with threats of war and economic crisis? The U.S. needs an educational reform.
Standards for being a teacher should be set higher, and wages should be higher also. Teachers just aren?t respected enough. Their job to teach students to become great leaders is a tremendous job. These teachers would then be able to deal better with students. To be a bad teacher is to allow students to decide whether they want to succeed or not. To be a good teacher is to force them to succeed.
In conclusion, the U.S. education system is at the brink of becoming the most inefficent form of education, unless something is done about it. If low scores and bad grades are the outcome of a great country, then the country does not deserve to be called great.