The public schools and universities of a country are a reflection of how that
country feels about learning. American schools are the way they are because
that is how we want them. Students go to college not for the sake of learning
but just to get a better job. I am a retired teacher and I would have students
bringing a note to class from their parents excusing them to go skiing. In
Japan if a student missed school for illness their parent would come to school
and take notes for them. On parent teacher conferences I would spent the
evening trying to explain to parents, if the student wasn't performing
well, why the student was not performing as well as they shoud be and at times
it was rather stressful. I noticed one evening that a collegue was having very
pleasant interviews. I asked him how that happened and he said that he just
gave all his students A's and B's. His philosophy was that the
parents didn't care what their child learned but what grade they got.
Re One Old ManAlthough spelling does count, I hope you would focus
on the message which you seem to be oblivious to.I have pointed out
strenghts in our educational system which we ought not discard during our
misguided attemps to fix it, for these strenghts are in large part why we have
been great. Then I point out that we need to restore what we used to have ..
Quality Cirriculum.This is a rich gold mine for the taking and you
overlook the gold and can see only dirt.Let those who have eyes to
see .. see. Let those who have ears to hear .. hear.
Our schools are just fine. If there is a problem, it's due to the
inattention of the parents to the education of their offspring... or lack of a
two parent family. Usually in troubled families education takes a back seat.
And we have alotta troubled families these days.--------------------@rok:"Kind of like when reporters
lament how poor our infant mortality rate is compared to other countries when
they don't realize that in the other countries, if the baby dies within the
first 24 hours, they don't count it as a live birth..."Millions of our babies die before they even get out of the womb (called
abortion). Some even die in the partial-birth stage. That could be the
reason our birth rate is low by comparison.
This is like the various nations against which the US was compared complaining
because the US produces way better high school basketball and football players.
They don't complain, of course, because that's not what they want
their education systems to produce.
In most developed countries, against whom we are judged, the school day is
typically longer and the school year is usually 20 to 30 days longer. If the
only difference were the 20 extra days, their students would get the equivalent
of one more 180 day school year in the first nine years of school. That
SHOULD make their test scores better.
Re: "We should all be doing whatever we can to build up our schools . . .
but sadly we continue to try to tear them down."Actually,
UEA/NEA and the "elitization" of Big Education has been doing a superb
job of tearing them down for us.The letter highlights American
education's biggest failure -- marginalizing and failing to support
students whose talents and interests lie off the college track. All Big Ed does
for them is label them "problems" and "dropouts."Construction jobs -- once available to youngsters willing to work, learn, and
apprentice -- are locked away from today's youth by immigration activists
and closed union shops.There's really nothing wrong with
dropping out, so long as dropouts have real options to remain productive, valued
members of society.The IT industry became disgusted with hidebound,
out-of-touch higher ed, and came up with its own relevant training and
certification programs. Similar revitalization of American culture is occurring
elsewhere, as well -- fast food, retail, hotel, and cable/satellite.But, if it doesn't spread to others soon, we'll all lose.
cjb, if you would study a little, you'd learn that in the past spelling was
not standardized. In fact, it was not standardized until some time in the early
1800's when people like Mr. Webster began publishing dictionaries.Now it is standardized and proper spelling tells a lot about a person's
level of education.Here's a homework assignment for you: How
is the word "choose" unconstitutional? I'll be
interested in seeing your answer soon.
re One Old ManYou said" Maybe if they did study a
little more, they'd be better educated. Might even learn to spell tricky
words like "strength." "----I once read
that Shakesphere spelled his name multiple different ways. Learn not to get hung
up on small unimportant things and concentrate on the important message, and you
will see the big picture with more clarity, if that is what you want.
It is interesting that in our country we teach educators all about diversity in
their students and tell the respect it and accommodate it in their teaching, and
then we tell those teachers to take all those students who are so different and
make them all just alike. Case in point, No Child Left Behind. We frustrate
students with low aptitudes for the core requirements we have imposed, and we
stymie the students who have higher aptitude for those core requirements. In
short we set all students to be less than they are capable of being. We need to take the cap off learning. Provide for students who are good in
science and math to advance in those areas starting in elementary school.
Students who struggle in these areas would still get taught these subjects but
balance it with advancement in the areas where they are more skilled. Until we
respect and value the diversity in our kids, we will continue to help them all
underachieve, which is a monumental tragedy. I am not naive to
non-school factors negatively affecting learning (dysfunctional families,
poverty, etc) but in my 200 words I am addressing education issues only.
cjb -- you can be very sure that American students are not being forced to
"study excessively."It never ceases to amaze me as I drive
along the streets when students are heading home from school at 2 in the
afternoon (six hours in school minus one for lunch?) and so few of them are
carrying any books or wearing a backpack that might contain books.Maybe if they did study a little more, they'd be better educated. Might
even learn to spell tricky words like "strength."America's REAL problem is not excessive study. It's a general
malaise among adult Americans that seems to place greater value on entertainment
than it does on education.
cjb,Though I understand your point about choice and being well
rounded, saying that other countries do not have "people who make great
accomplishments in their field" is, I think, an overstatement. The Asian
countries were doing just fine in their technological leaps as do several
European countries.Surely we can figure a way to get at least a bit
of the best of both. But we must be willing to accept an educational system
that has true rigor. That means every child does not necessarily graduate.
Kind of like when reporters lament how poor our infant mortality rate is
compared to other countries when they don't realize that in the other
countries, if the baby dies within the first 24 hours, they don't count it
as a live birth, so they look like they have better rates than they really do.
A strenght of the American educational system, is that students are not driven
to study excessively. Countries where students are driven to study too much,
almost to the exclusion of other activities have good students, but they seldom
if ever hsve people who make great accomplishments in their field. They get
burned out.Another strenght of the American educational system is
that is easier to become what you want to be. People here are more likely to end
up in the field(s) of their choice because of greater opportunity and they
aren't disqualified by tests they didn't excel in when they were
younger. When people do what they are interested in or passionate about they
make greater contributions.A weakness of the American educational
system is that the cirruculum has been watered down I have noticed a big
difference in the math and physics education my children are offered here in
Utah public schools compared to what I was fortunate to be able to take
advantage of. Unfortunately this fact is denied by too many educators, (mostly
administrators). I know because I have worked to try to improve things, and have
seen this first hand.
Mediocrity justified....sounds like a good Utah slogan.
Jody,Every intelligent person understands what you understand.
Unfortunately the editorial boards and our legislators like to do whatever they
can to trash our once noble education system. Look around and you won't
find a more dedicated bunch of people than the teachers at your local school.
Despite the disrespect from the editorial boards and legislature, they continue
to educate our children for a fraction of the cost in other states and
countries. It is sad really. We should all be doing whatever we
can to build up our schools and teachers but sadly we continue to try to tear
The European system described in this letter existed eighty years ago. It is no
longer the case. They, like us, try to educate everyone.