Essay #1: Education
When it comes to education, many people automatically have a negative reaction; especially when discussing the United States’ educational system. Whether it is grade school or a higher education, most people would agree that something needs to be changed. However, finding the specific “what” that should be changed in the education system is hard, because it’s failure is a combination of many things, rather than one direct problem. As citizens, we know that flaws are expected in any sort of process/system and the education system, being so vast, is bound to have many issues in its own. Authors and scholars from around the world, such as Jonathan Kozol, David Orr, Sir Ken Robinson and many others, help present these flaws to the public through intense persuasive and informational writing/speaking. Data shows that the United States has been and continues to fall behind other countries like Finland, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, and Korea in typical testing of subjects like mathematics, science, and reading (Husén 455). Standards of education are varying from country to country and this is a direct reflection of differing goals per country on national scale, in terms of education. The United States has seemingly lower overall standards of education, as well as various and less effective methods of teaching.
According to Torsten Husén; the chairman of the International Assessment for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a major difference in European countries and the Americas is that:
“Some [European] countries deem it inappropriate to conduct examinations that aim at
assessing individual levels of performance in a system where school attendance is
mandatory. Failures depend not only on limitations in individual ability and motivation
but on the competence of the system to cater to the needs of all students and to enable
them to do their best.” (456) In this quote, Husén describes one of the main issues of schooling nationwide; how the students are tested. The difference between schools in the United States and schools in other countries (The United Kingdom in particular) is how The Department of Education places rules and requirements that schools and teachers must follow, even if they are not always in the best interest of the students. While everyone may have the ability to learn, not everyone learns in the same way. Whether you are a teacher or a student, standardized tests containing only select topics are not always the most effective way to learn. If standardized tests were not seen as such monumental evaluations from a schools’ prospective, then it would allow a load of pressure to be released from the students.
Furthermore, in terms of the overall structure of it’s formal system of education, the United States differs greatly from that of foreign countries. The U.S. focuses on standardized testing for each grade starting from first grade, all the way to twelfth grade. The majority of other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Korea and Japan have systems that test the grade students on an overall standard only once about every three or so grades. The Organization Economic Co-operations and Development (OECD) has done many studies which compare different aspects of education in varying countries. One of these studies was the graduation rate of high schoolers in the United States vs the United Kingdom. In 2010, the U.S. graduation rate was 77% while the U.K. was a 91% (Gurría). Simple statistics like these are proof that foreign countries are ahead of us from an education standpoint, and that something needs to change.
For as long as we can remember, politics have have worked their way into almost every aspect of society and education is certainly not an exception. The political aspect of education in the United States is a huge problem for the competitiveness of schools and individuals. When children, teenagers and young adults have so much expected of...
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