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Debate! Standardized Education System

>> Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Today I want to debate the merits or pitfalls of the United States (and most other places') standardized education system. There have been varying studies that lean on both sides of this so instead of giving you all the science behind it, I will simply put up two arguments and let you decide. Feel free to site papers in your arguments.

Pros:

Most people will state that this educational system leads to more well rounded students also giving students a chance to succeed despite their weaknesses. For example, a student in middle school may be horrid at homework and lacks motivation, but excels in test taking therefore maintaining a decent grade. A student at a university may be horrid at doing lab work (not my problem at all!) but does well on the reports and homework.
Also, forcing the students to take many types of classes in undergraduate studies "prepares students for life" by teaching them a variety of things that may come in handy some day. The little piece of paper you get shows employers that you worked hard and got the job done.

Cons:

There is a huge gap between genders and races/ethnicities. People in poorer areas do not get the same education despite standards set up. There are many who believe that the current system allows for mediocrity to reign. Average students at a better school end up with more opportunites than a great student at a horrible school. There are many reasons for this, but I am just listing arguments here.
If a student at an early age shows an earnest desire in science, let's say- since this is a pseudo-science blog, that student cannot just study science and excel. Gifted students have incredible dropout rates because school is "boring, unchallenging, and a waste of time." I will not say who I am quoting there. Genius is lost because a student who excels at music for example, cannot just study music.

Debate:

Many people cannot get jobs they want because they lack "credentials." Who set up this system and said what should/shouldn't be considered credible? Do we need to overhaul our entire educations system? Begin!



7 comments:

Q December 10, 2008 at 10:14 PM  

Dear Mimi,
I do think the public educational system needs to be over hauled!
I lean towards a standard system...first grade is first grade regardless of where you go to school. I think public education should be free and include State Universities. I think if someone wants to work towards a degree they should be able to do so without incurring enormous debts. Private schools are different story.
Great topic.
I also think Health Care should be available for every one!
Sherry, who is sounding rather socialistic tonight!

Mimi December 12, 2008 at 8:41 AM  

@ Sherry... there is nothing wrong with a little socialism. Despite what many think, we have just socialized the stock market with this bailout. The money is our tax dollars! I think that could have been better spent on our substandard schools and living situations in various parts of the country.

Jeanne December 12, 2008 at 10:16 AM  

Mimi,

It saddens me that schools in areas with the "horrible schools" you referenced are not serving the needs of students. I have heard of high school drop-out rates of over 50% in some cities. This is completely unacceptable!

Schools tend to "teach to the test". While there needs to be some standard way of measuring students' knowledge, there is much room for improvement.

My husband will tell you that he is "not a good test-taker". He struggled in elementary in middle school because he is a very "hands on" learner. Different learning styles were not respected at his private schools.

He then switched to a public high school. This is when he began doing better in school. I don't just mean getting better grades. I mean he went from hating school to enjoying it (at least parts of it).

He is one of the smartest people I have ever met. Yet he struggled terribly in his younger years with a system that worked against him rather than supporting his strengths.

My daughter LOVES school. Her school used to have an enrichment program but they did away with it. This saddens me because she could use it. One day, she came home from school her bubbly, happy self. I asked her about her day and her facial expression changed markedly.

She said they worked on 'area' that day (in 3rd grade math). I said, "well I thought you like working on area?" She said, "yes but Mom we already did area and I'm bored"!

When you're bored by 3rd grade, action is needed.

A short time later we had parent-teacher conferences. I asked if it was true (what I had heard from another mom) that the enrichment program had been cut. The teacher said yes.

At this point, I asked her if there was anything we could work on at home to supplement what she is doing at school (to prevent boredom).

The teacher paused to think a minute. Then she got up and went through her cabinets and desk.

She gave me materials to work with my daughter at home (things that were used in the slashed program). She also contacted the 3rd grade team's math coordinator and papers were sent home for math. (My daughter's teacher gave us Language Arts materials).

I don't mind working with my daughter at home like this. I have a degree in education and I can manage it. However, I would prefer if the school had not slashed the enrichment program.

The time I spend to prevent her from getting bored could be spent reading, practicing piano, or {gasp} playing and "being a kid".

I don't think I should have to be her "enrichment teacher" but I can't have her getting bored either!

Since she scored off the charts on standardized tests and started reading books at the age of 2 and musical notes at 4, it's important to prevent boredom.

I don't believe in "teaching to the lowest common denominator". Her school is great in many ways. However, their new language art programs is fixated on teaching to the state test. This may or may not be in my daughter's best interest. (She could be learning much more).

Having student taught myself and having seen the wide range of students' abilities, I understand it can be challenging to meet the needs of all students. Teachers work hard!! At the same time, it is important to do so as much as humanly possible.

Lower socioeconomic areas get the short end the stick... as you pointed out. Schools in affluent areas generally have better books available and better resources as a rule.

This is not fair!

Everyone has a right to high quality education.

Also, I strongly agree that all people have a basic human right to decent healthcare! It makes moral, ethical, and financial sense to ensure health coverage for all people. (I love the movie "Sicko").

The current healthcare system in the US is a disgrace.

Due to my numerous illnesses, my family's finances have been CRIPPLED by medical expenses!!! This is not right.

I'm sorry for that healthcare tangent but I couldn't resist adding to Q's comments there.

Great post!!

Jeanne

Mimi December 12, 2008 at 11:03 AM  

@ Jeanne... thank you! This is exactly what my debate!s are supposed to be. I went to only public schools in very inner-city areas with the exception of my senior year. Still public, in a better area. By then, I was bored and getting horrible grades because I would rather skip class and read college textbooks in the library. I was learning still, but not doing what I had to and even though my SAT and ACT scores were fantastic, I was FAILING! Obviously I knew the stuff, but not everyone learns the same. There should be something we could do to allow the smarter children the opportunity to excel and not have them get bored and possibly fall through the cracks. GASP! I gave my own opinion on my debate! I am a horrible moderator!

Jeanne December 12, 2008 at 3:58 PM  

Mimi,

One of things I learned while getting my degree in elementary education was the importance of respecting different learning styles and fostering students' strengths.

Unfortunately, this philosophy isn't always put into practice. This is too bad because some students end up getting left out.

The notion that cutting enrichment programs is an acceptable option makes no sense to me. These programs are just as important as other programs for children with special needs.

When "teach to the test" gets engrained into teacher's heads (i.e. so that their schools can do well on the test scores), this does not mean that the children are necessarily learning what they need to learn.

In some classes, students are learning how to do well taking tests rather than focusing on true comprehension.

Memorizing things and being able regurgitate them doesn't necessarily reflect knowledge.

Sometimes I think schools lose sight of where the emphasis should be. I know there is pressure on schools, principals, and teachers to produce high test scores.

The problem is that obsessing over test preparation can overshadow other important issues.

It is unfortunate that any student should be bored to the point of skipping class do read something more educational.

As far as being a horrible moderator, I don't think so. I guess it depends on how you define moderator.

If you were moderator of Meet the Press, then it would make sense to keep your political views private.

If, however, you are writing a blog... I don't think there is anything at all wrong with stating your opinions. After all, it's your blog.

I guess I take a narrower view of moderating a blog. I have comments moderation set up to screen out people who post inappropriate things in the comment field of my blog.

Thank goodness I do because I've had a couple of comments that just were not appropriate at all.

So I use comments moderation to screen out the "bad stuff" but goodness knows I state my opinion on comment sections of my blog all the time. I think that's perfectly fine.

I look at it like this... just because you presented this topic in the form of a debate doesn't have to mean you can't say your piece. I wouldn't worry about it. :)

Jeanne

Mimi December 13, 2008 at 9:44 AM  

@ jeanne... I hate the fact that most of the "A" students I know at my university are great at memorizing. Ask them a year later about the same topic and they know nothing. The learn it long enough to take the test. I want to KNOW. I still regurgitate information from high school. It sticks. I don't want to just do well enough to pass. That isn't ok with me.

Jeanne December 14, 2008 at 3:00 AM  

Mimi,

I hear you! You wrote a great post topic to get people thinking. :)

Jeanne

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