What are everyones thoughts on the american educational system
Don't know much about it. Was kind of surprised, and annoyed, with having to hand in my homework and get it graded every god damn week when I studied there last semester. And three exams for each single course, making it 12 exams all together in a single semester... A bit excessive don't you think? oO Maybe a good thing if you're used to it though :/
Is it not like that in Europe??? This is all I know.
I think the govt should pay but private schools are the way to go.
No, not in college. Theory is that we must learn to get responsible for getting the shit done ourselves. Doesn't always work out too well though. Too easy to just slack off and do the panic read towards the end of the semester, but then nothing sticks and you lack the foundation to continue once you get back from your way too long vacation. I speak from experience... Wish there was a middle ground between the total absence of care here, and the rigid control you guys got over there.
I don't know if you're talking about college as in uni or as in high school, but if you mean high school then you can't put all of Europe into one drawer. It really depends on your country/state/school, if you go to a private or a state school, which exams you are taking... For example in my part of Switzerland we have around 14 subjects (depending on the year) and we have 3 or 4 exams per subject throughout each semester, and then one big exam week in December and June where every subject is tested again. That's pretty much the opposite of what you've got.
So I just graduated from high school. I consider myself to be fortunate enough to have gone to one of the better-rated schools in my county (By "rate," I mean the "quality" of our teachers, the way we've been taught and prepared, and the results from "standardized" and government-administered tests).
Now I'm not a big expert on the administration-level details, but the basis of our public education system is that every single child deserves to have an education that prepares them enough for the work force (the "compulsory" education). This is the basic K-12, which as everyone knows involves the usual English, arithmetic, science, history, etc. But then after graduation, there is the factor of "upper" education (i.e. college) that can further prepare an individual for a specific field or a specific job (Especially a professional, prestigious one, as a doctor, lawyer, etc). Otherwise, the "compulsory" education is enough to get one into a normal working-class job, provided with the high school diploma and the basic skills. The actual value of whether college really is worth it is a lengthy debate, and further touched upon by John rather recently (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_N7MAr98CI).
Of course, there's the argument that some should not be paying their taxes to the education system, for various reasons. 1: Some taxpayers don't have children who go to school, so in their minds, why should they pay for the education of someone else's children? and 2: Why should taxpayers fund seemingly low-quality teachers who teach seemingly ill-disciplined teenagers who can care so little about learning stuff?
Personally, I believe education is something that everyone deserves, rather than something as a privilege that only those who can afford it should get. In California, education is one of the highest budgetary costs (If not the highest, next to prisons). In a greater scope, our education system is considerably better than education in many other countries - Third World countries where education is much more scarce and less universal.
It's far from the best tool to educate oneself. A far cry from a real education at all.
Basically it sucks big hairy ones. I think every parent should have the right to pull their kid out of public school and get a voucher for what the govt spends per child so that child can go to private school. That way it doesn't cost the parent extra to send their kid to school.
Gabriel I have heard that argument about childless couples shouldn't have to pay taxes that go towards school. The counter argument is that it is everyone's best interest to get everyone educated. The kid that your taxes help educate may in fact turn out to be your doctor tomorrow.
Oh I totally agree on your point. The argument purported by those who rationalize "I don't have children, so why should I care?" is an illogical viewpoint since indeed education - no matter the quality or lack of quality - helps the innovators and minds of future generations get the start they deserve.
People can complain about bad teachers and a bad system, and indeed there are some bad teachers and poor classroom environments out there and things that can be improved. (There are even better ways for people to learn things, i.e. through the Internet. Many who enjoy learning stuff from CrashCourse and SciShow can learn so much stuff in 4 minutes - stuff which can take 4 months in a classroom.) And while it's not a perfect system we've got, it's arguably better than no system; there are the more unfortunate places where education - not just higher, postgraduate, and private education, but even basic, elementary education - is a privileged luxury based on wealth or gender.
i think education is great. the education system however can be rated in correspondence to how much your countries government wants you to know. which im afraid to say in America, is ok, but theres alot of shit they dont tell you.
The American system really isn't as bad as everybody says it is. It has some serious problems - mostly dealing with equal access to good education - but people who universally dismiss public schools as shit and private schools as the answer are dead wrong.
One thing critics of our system frequently bring up is how far behind other countries we are in reading and math, consistently ranking in the double digits in both. However this does not look at the larger picture; in America everyone is expected to complete K-12, while in many other countries (most notably the Asian ones) only the more capable students go on to high school. For example, if we only use the test scores of white students to compare us to the rest of the world, then the gap closes considerably. The problem isn't so much America failing to teach its students as much as it is failing to teach all students equally - which leads us to arguably the biggest problem with American schools: tying education funding to local property taxes.
This, of course, leads to MASSIVE and almost insurmountable differences in the quality of education for the rich and poor, exacerbating the already alarming problem of severe income inequality. Poor people pay little property tax leading to low funding for local schools leading to inferior quality of education leaving students unable to get a decent paying job, and the process keeps repeating itself with little hope for poor inner city schools to get any better. Most of our major problems with our education system are due to poverty, and getting rid of the link between property tax and education funding is probably one of if not the best long-term ways to start fixing it.
The solutions that many are currently proposing to help poor people escape a bad school district - charter schools and vouchers - are not realistic at best and ineffective at worst. Charter schools on average do no better than public schools, and sometimes in fact do worse. Their effectiveness varies greatly based on area and state, which is the same problem we have with public schools. Likewise after you control for socioeconomic factors private schools do no better than public schools. They only appear to do better because of two reasons: they can be selective in which students they allow in the school, and since parents are paying big money to send them to a private school they are more involved with their kid's learning. Parental involvement is one of the biggest contributing factors to academic success. However, vouchers would eliminate the second source of private school's "excellence"; the government will still be paying for the education and not the parents, so the parents still don't have that same monetary incentive to ensure their kid is working hard to learn.
Of course, I'm not trying to suggest that just throwing money at our schools is the answer either. Though some issues - such as class size or diversity of subjects offered - can be fixed by increasing funding, closing the achievement gap between rich and poor will take fundamental and widespread reform.
I'm replying to this comment because it's a great comment, though toward the end I talk about different things too.
arguably the biggest problem with American schools: tying education funding to local property taxes.
This. It's really amazing how much difference there can be in schools even in the same town based on where the money is.
The solutions that many are currently proposing to help poor people escape a bad school district - charter schools and vouchers - are not realistic at best and ineffective at worst. Charter schools on average do no better than public schools, and sometimes in fact do worse.
Also this. There are a lot of people, even in education, who like to look at charter schools (or magnet schools, or STEM schools) as a magic bullet that's going to revolutionize the system. Unfortunately the reality, as you point out, is just as much a mixed bag as in public schools. Charter schools can be places that foster innovation, but they can also be terrible.
Parental involvement is one of the biggest contributing factors to academic success.
closing the achievement gap between rich and poor will take fundamental and widespread reform.
And therein lies the rub. It's not just that monetarily poor schools generally provide a worse education, but low-income families are also at a disadvantage. I think this is something that needs more attention. Schools don't fail just because of a few bad teachers or a few lazy students or whatever. Those can contribute of course, but ultimately until we think of a way to bring permanent improvement to a school district, and by extension the people living in it, we will always have failing schools. Throwing money at this problem, like so many problems, is like trying to change the course of a river with a handful of leaves. One must have a plan.
In addition to the economic factors discussed, there is still a question in American education of what exactly we should be teaching kids. States are currently adopting the latest iteration of the national standards (the Common Core State Standards, or CCSS, of which only English and Math are available currently). 45 of 50 States have thus far adopted these standards. Supposedly these standards, to quote from the CCSS website, the standards "...provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them."
So that's all well and good in a vacuum, but of course this means that now teachers are responsible for having students learn the information in these standards, as this is the information that will be on the standardized tests. With the recent push to tie test scores to teacher salaries in many states, it's not difficult to see why teachers are "teaching to the test" regardless of what information is not included in the CCSS. Incidentally, if anyone would like to see what is in the CCSS, here's a link (scroll to the bottom of the page).
Which brings to the question of whether or not a national education ought to be standardized to this extent, or whether we ought to train teachers to enable students to pursue their passions without regard to whether said passion fits into the current definition of what we value in education (ie: learning the four big subjects, Math, Science, English/Language Arts, and History).
Anyone interested in what education might look like in the future (not necessarily in America, but somewhere), might check out these two TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson One from 2006 and another from 2010.
Again, great comment by Raef, and thanks for including sources with your arguments!