Over the years, the educational system in America has improved immensely. Students have evolved from learning the basics of the English language, to having the option to learn another foreign tongue. Also, a greater variety of studies are now available for students learning enjoyment and educational enrichment. Schools across the country all have some kind of curriculum, which is said to offer students, no matter age, race, gender or religion, an equally wholesome education. Despite these developments, there are still major flaws in the education system across the United States. Issues like inadequate teaching staff, lack of materials, limited education, and unequal education face our education system today.
The first step in the education system for most people is pre-school. Basically this is where children first learn to interact with other students when they are away from their parents. Here is where children are taught the very basics of education. Colors, shapes, numbers and other basic information are the elements most often learned in pre-school. This is a childs first educational learning experience. A child will then go on to kidergarden upon completion of pre-school. Here, the curriculum is more advanced. The children will learn the basics of reading, writing, and spelling, among other factors of basic education. Most kindergarderners are on a full day schedule now. This for most children, is the first time they are away from home all day.
Elementary school comes next in a childs ladder of education. From first to fifth grade, a child learns the most useful information they will need in life. Reading, writing, mathematics and English are stressed to all students. This information is necessary for life. During middle school, the tools are refined and polished, and then it is off to high school. This is where the tools are applied, and a more specialized kind of learning takes place.
Throughout high school, students are told that they are preparing for college. The only thing that involves college in high school is the fact that you have to do well to get into the college of your choice. What I noticed about high school is that it is just busy work. Classes such as media and broadcasting, cinematography, English horror, and performing arts are just offered to fill a time schedule and give students more interaction with fellow classmates. However, nothing can really prepare a person for college. College is a totally different type of learning experience. College: an institution of higher education that grants degrees in specialized areas of study. A school offering specialized instruction in some profession or occupation. This is where a student obtains the necessary material relating to future carrier plans. In most cases, this is the final step in the formal learning process.
There are many problems in the educational system today. For example, inadequate teaching staff is a huge problem. There are many teachers who simply should not be in the profession they are in. It is obvious that they do not like children, and even more obvious that they do not like their jobs. At my high school we had many of these teachers. Everyone knew who he or she was because the whole school talked about how terrible they were. Basically they are all the same. In class they introduce a topic, without any other information they give an assignment, never check to see if it is completed, and then test you on the information. It was entirely up to the students to teach themselves the material. Then there were the teachers who were always having bad days. No one wanted to speak with them because they were rude and unhelpful. It was obvious to everyone that these teachers were unsympathetic and did not enjoy their jobs. Students often receive unsatisfactory grades in these classes, which causes problems in the long run. If a person wants to become a teacher they should love, or at least like working with youth, and want to help them, not make them suffer.
Schools are also suffering because of the recent outbreak of violence in schools. Many students are attending school in constant fear of something happening to them. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven for children, and for the most part are exactly opposite. In many schools across the country, children are bringing weapons, drugs, and other illegal matter into the classroom. This is going unnoticed by authority figures in school. How can this problem be solved? Why are children doing this? And why is nothing being done to help? One reason why this may happen is because teachers are too impersonal with the students. It is understandable that at the high school level, students wish not to share information about their personal life with their teachers, however the teachers should realize if a student had a problem, and try to get them help. Also, if a student respects a teacher, they may feel as though they do not need to have those sorts of things in the classroom. There is very little communication between students and teachers, which makes the classroom quite uneasy.
Another flaw is the lack of necessary resources in schools today. In many classes, text books are outdated and in poor condition. The text offers necessary information, but is often limited because of the copyright date on the book. Often times, students will have to share books because there are not enough new books, or too many old ones have fallen apart. There really are not many activities which take place in the classroom anymore either. Things such as games, papers, writing utensils, and even learning tools are missing from classrooms everywhere. Even in art rooms where supplies are supposed to be bountiful, there is a shortage. Because schools do not purchase these materials, students are suffering by not being able to have unique learning experiences.
Textbooks are very expensive. It should be a students responsibility to take good care of his or her own textbooks. Most students do not have to purchase their textbooks as college students do. If the text had to be purchased by the student, they may take better care of the books. Another reason why textbooks may be old is because the material in them does not need to be updated. A subject like math does not change often, therefore the material really never is outdated.
In the school districts around central New York, there are ten new computers in every elementary school classroom. This gives children the option to get used to using computers at an early age. In the middle schools, there is an average of five computers per classroom, and in the high schools there are none. This system is very pointless. Yes, it is a good idea for a child to start learning how to use a computer at an early age, but it is those students in the high schools who would receive the most benefit from having the computers. Older students need to gather information for research papers, write reports, and almost all homework has to be word-processed. While elementary school children are playing games, high school students are being deprived.
Children should be given the option to learn at an early age. If a child has a head start on a concept, they will pick up on it quicker, and may not loose it. Most children learn at a faster rate when they are younger. Computers are necessary at the elementary school level because they allow children to utilize a tool that they will need for the rest of their education and most likely for the rest of their life. Children may be unable to use computers that may be at home because parents may not feel that it is safe. Computers at schools are safe for all children to use, and will not disturb any of the parents work. Older students however do have a greater need for computers in the classroom. Most students will pick up on the skills quick because mast of their work (which is necessary and more important that an elementary students work) is dependant on a computer. A solution to this problem may be to ration the number of computers throughout grades K-12. By having an equal number, there will be a greater opportunity to utilize the computers.
The curriculum in every state should be the same. This is also a large flaw in the educational system. Almost every student has taken the same classes as a student from a different state, but not all state requirements are the same. For example, New York and California have a set requirement for a high school student to receive a Regents Diploma. To receive this regents diploma, students have to complete all classes set in the guidelines, graduate with a certain number of credits, and a number of educational sequences. Then, those students will receive a regents diploma on top of their regular high school diploma. This is basically something that makes more work for the board of education, as well as students and teachers. Most colleges do not look at what kind of high school diploma a student has, because only two states have a different diploma. I believe that all states should have the same requirements for education, because in the end (the journey to college) everyone comes from a different education. Most schools try to follow the same curriculum today, but there are still some flaws.
Some may say that New York and California should feel honored and privileged to have the option of obtaining a regents diploma. Because they are harder to obtain, and require more effort, colleges (especially in these states) look upon these students highly than others.
Since students in different states come from a variety of backgrounds, and not all schools are the same, it is in fact difficult to teach the same curriculum nationwide. After all, most students come to college with the information that they need to know. It is very difficult to operate one school exactly the same as another due to lack of funding, location, and available resources. For example, a small town farm community with around 200 students in attendance may not have the materials (textbooks, learning tools, computes), educational staff, and resources as a large private school. Not all schools have the same resources to teach all the same classes. Teachers in some cases may not even know the material. Also, many states set guidelines and establish a curriculum based on what educators believe is needed and acceptable. It is pointless to spend money on something that is not needed, and will never be utilized. It is very difficult to teach the same curriculum nation wide.
Theodore Sizer brings up some good points in his writing, What High School Is. The ideal goals of high school, in Sizers opinion are as follows: cultural diversity, aesthetic awareness, self realization, moral and ethical values, competence in human and social relations, citizenship and civil responsibility, and carrier and economic competence. But in reality, what is practiced is totally different. There is a hectic pace, generous class size, segregation by age, impersonality, low premium reflection, little attempt on relating what you learn, and modularization of the day. So basically even if all states and all schools set up the same curriculum, it would not be followed exactly due to the kaleidoscopic mix of people.
School is supposed to offer students no matter age, race, gender or religion an equal education. However, there is an immense amount of discrimination that goes on in schools throughout the country. Black students do not receive the same respect and education as white students, the wealthy are favored more heavily than the poor, there is religious discrimination in parts of the country, and there is also some discrimination with gender in the classroom. Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler explore this in a short essay titled Power Relationships In The Classroom. They discuss the different ways of learning between men and women in the classroom. For example, men prefer to have controlling teachers, a strong structured debate, lectures, and prefer to be aggressive and act on their own. While on the other hand, women prefer small groups, support of friends in debates, personal teachers, and female teachers over male teachers. Now it is not possible to make everyone happy all the time, but it is difficult for a student to pick up in a class if they feel as though they are treated differently than others. This proposes the question: Is school gender neutral, or gender bias?
Throughout the twentieth century, and beginning the twenty-first, developments are still being made to the educational system. It has made a great amount of progress in the last 100 years, and still has more to go. Schools all over the country are doing a mediocre job of educating todays youth due to the many flaws in the education system. As of right now, there is no set solution to this problem, but hopefully in the long run everyone will be able to receive the same well rounded education as a person twenty miles or even one thousand miles away. Education is very important in todays society, and it is a shame to see a brilliant mind go to waste due to these flaws.
Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler. Power Relationships in the Classroom.
Language and Power. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2000. 228-241
Sizer, Theodore. What High School Is Language and Power. McGraw-Hill
Companies, Inc. 2000. 328-335