We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
High test scores don't translate into better quality of citizens or culture. Take the Japanese, for example. Adult test scores placed them 13th out of the 14 developed nations. US: 6th place. (See "Free to Be" New York Times (1/12/03). Other Japanese terms reflect the problem of a culture with too much emphasis on test scores. Toko kyohi (school refusal), futoko (non-attendance) affect 26,000 elementary and 108,000 middle school students. "Unschooling in Japan" http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ja8i-brtl/school_Refusal.htm. Hikikomori (students who refuse to leave their bedrooms) number somewhere between 100,000 and one million. These are not the signs of health. "Shutting Themselves in" New York Times (1/15/06). To paraphrase Einstein: "Imagination is more important than high test scores." Give me students with great imaginations over high test scores any day.
There are those students who will excel and those students who will fail. Motivation, self-determination, and great teachers will help some but not all to excel.
Sure they can compete provided they have the same opportunity. Our education system prides itself in offering opportunity for ALL students regardless of any heredity or environmental factors. Vast amounts of time, teaching pedagogy, professional development, money,state and federal special legislation enacted,inclusion,illegal immigrants (the list is too extensive to list) requires todays teacher to possess some of the same qualities as Moses. Sure the cream eventually rises to the top. How much cream is it going to take to compete in a world that is more hostile to us as a people? Will our," same opportunity "approach to education meet the challenge of those nations preparing those that can/those that want to? Yes, we can compete provided a reality check takes place and we realize the rest of the world doesn't compete or play by the rules of our game.
In my humble opinion, education should not be competitive, but rather cooperative. To reduce the gift of knowledge to a matter of number crunching to determine whose country has the better test scores is to lose sight of the adventure of learning and the thrill of exposing students to new ideas.
To be able to integrate ideas, methods, and of course, knowledge with peers from other lands is really when the learning process becomes interesting. I'm not trying to be a "We Are The World" spokesperson, but education is meant to develop an individual who in turn will help develop a community. The process continues until it reaches a global scale.
There are many avenues to learning; each one provides different results. I say, utilize each of them. We should never restrict ourselves to the confines of our own society. If by learning from those from other walks of life we gain a greater knowledge on a particular subject, then who is to say that such knowledge is worthless?
There is a certain irony to the fact that the old Evil Empire aka the Soviet Union ran a public education system that was a meritocracy. With a fraction of the money we spend and few administrators, they created the gold standard of what it means to be educated.
On the other hand, in the United States, we run our public education system like the old Soviet Communist Party - not the Soviet education system - where no good act goes unpunished and where social promotion of students continues to assure that they will fail to achieve the education necessary to either be productive members of society or the citizen arbiters of power as is putatively asserted by our constitution.
According to the alleged "rules" of the Los Angeles Unified School District, I am supposed to enroll all my students in Algebra, when they are incapable of doing basic foundational math. Therefore, it is not surprising that 60% of the students who ultimately arrive at our junior colleges require remediation because they are unable to pass a math and English assessment examination before they are allowed to take college level courses- if they cannot pass a math fundamentals course, they are not enrolled in Algebra or beyond math or science classes.
As long as LAUSD and it soul brothers in big city public school districts that the whites have abandon continue this and other disingenuous processes, American students will not be able to compete in math and science with their world peers.
As one who taught in US schools for 32 years and now am teaching in Bangkok, Thailand, I believe that I have a good perspective for comparing American students to international students.
The choices of non-yes answers to the poll's question illustrates the problem that American teachers face; namely, that it is the schools that must be fixed, that it is the teaching that needs improvement, that it is ..... that needs to be reformed. The focus is never on individual students and their families responsibilities.
My Thai, Japanese, Taiwanese, Indian, UK, Australian students are no smarter than my American students were, but they work incredibly hard at learning. Most of my American students were happy to get by, not all fortunately, but a large minority.
The key fix for American education is the acceptance by students and families that it is the student's responsibility to learn, to work hard at learning and that the families should be supportive of this hard work. Once the students are working hard, then school, curriculum and teacher reforms may have a chance to succeed. Otherwise, these reforms are all Band-Aids and a search for the "silver-bullet" that will suddenly make everything better.
There is no silver-bullet, the fix is individual responsibility and hard work. Something that Americans used to be know worldwide for.