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I agree entirely that motivation is a factor in our students' success or lack thereof. Students find little motivation - extrinsic and much less intrinsic. In my opinion, this is what will feed our economic problems. However, if American companies can hire individuals from other countries that are more competent and motivated, then maybe they will feed our workforce and keep America the economic power house that it can be...
Collaborate, don't compete.
Don't worry. The Internet and the global communications revolution will allow our children to bypass the adult paradigms that are holding learning back.
The One Laptop Per Child program pioneered by MIT and now running in the private sector will explode the acquisition of knowledge and communication throughout the world.
Schools are obsolete, their inhabitants just have not realized it yet.
I would remind us that America is one of the few countries that publishes scores for all students, not just for the best and brightest students. In fact in many countries formal education ends at the age of 15 or 16 and the poor and less than brilliant are not permitted to proceed beyond that point. I manage education initiatives for a global company (120 countries), so I get to see the data on the kinds of education programs that are provided outside the US, as well as the target populations. And I have observed that all students are not afforded the same opportunity to be educated.
My point here is that if we only submitted the scores for our very top students in the US, we would probably be at the top of any comparative list of countries. And while I agree that too many of our students are mediocre and seem not to care much about eduction, I think it's unfair to compare the total population of US students against students from other countries that "control" participation in their education system. It's tantamount to comparing apples to oranges.
As long as we have this grade system, we will only get worse. How come you can take 6 or 7 years to complete college, but you have to complete your formal education in 12 years or fail. The stress and pressure that we put on our kids to succeed is misguided. Find an child’s strengths and build on that. Their weakness will follow and be repaired.
Leave the system open-ended with parameters on what success is for each child.
Can they compete or will they compete? As a High School Engineering and Technology teacher, I see students who really don't care about learning anything.They are very capable just not motivated.Students used to be motivated thru student organizations;personal recognition for achievement.Not any more! The concept of striving for a goal is disappearing.
As a teacher, I totally agree with your opinion! American teachers and American schools are not a "cure all". We should DEMAND the students take responsibility for their education. Parents MUST be held responsible, too!
Thank you for speaking the truth.
To be honest, I really don't know what to think. It seems that there are 25 of us that want to say something or even respond to the problem. That is sufficient to start a movement.
We have a history (a rare word for our culture) of inovation. We have or at least we had a "Can Do" spirit. We make things no one has ever thought to make. What has become of us?
We, and here I am really stretching the point of we, were led to believe a little pamphlet called, A Nation in Peril, was true. We somehow think that the formal development of math and science through classroom activities is important. We do not feel that authentic learning teaches anything usefull. We have become a theory oriented nation, and that is a shame.
This nation was habitated by citizens of the world. We looked beyond our shores at how we could benefit and be benefitted by the rest of the world. We welcomed immigrants who would push us to new ideas and ways of doing things. Today we just want other peoples things. It is as if we have forgotton to make new things. We leave made in America in a wasteland of packaging.
What type of a country refuses to honestly discuss a direction for youth, becomes a haven for wealthy, and turns its back on wealth makers? That's what we've become. Our ability to imagine and create hope here and abroad is eroding. I am a teacher who is constantly bombarded with making AYP over a stupid test. Many wonder why younger teachers leave. It isn't to create more wealth for themselves, it is to create meaning in their lives and the lives of their children.
Intelligence is not genetic. Kids in other countries are not genetically more gifted. In most other countries, effort counts far more than natural ability. If we want to continue to have American students compete, we need to teach them that it's not natural ability, it's not the textbook (sorry lovers of Singapore Math and Saxon), it's not your zip code - what matters is how hard you work and how dedicated you are to your studies. If you are willing to give it your all, you will succeed. You will be competitive. That's the message our youth need.
Other countries that are surpassing us, such as China and India, in the areas of math and science have more honor students than the US has students. How can we compete against the sheer numbers?
I think that textbook reform is a necessary step forward in becoming globally competitive. American textbooks are overstuffed with pictures, sidebars, and politically motivated inserts. I spent my senior year of high school in Sweden. Textbooks were slim paperbacks that students purchased to keep. They contained just the basics. I've kept my calculus book for years. I used it in college and when I went back to graduate school. It's in Swedish, and I have to translate it, but it is an invaluable distillation of just what you need to know to do calculus.
An interesting side note, as an American in the 70's, I could compete. I had higher math scores than anyone in my Swedish math class. My Swedish math teacher always commented on how he just couldn't believe it.