The question posed is "What should the education system be?" This question cannot be answered specifically because the education system means something different to everyone. The education system is, to an extent, what it should be, which is an institution devoted to the development of the intellect. American education should however, be more than rote instruction of mandated materials. Our children should be taught more life skills along with science and math.
Children sit in rows, facing straight, not talking. They select and use educational materials in unison, and watch the teacher write on the board. The droning sound of the teacher's voice attempts to fill their minds with knowledge. It sounds militaristic because it is. Students remember more of what they are taught if the material is presented in a less formal, more enjoyable atmosphere. School administrators and state agencies set forth guidelines from which teachers must not deviate. The problem is, these administrators are removed from the classroom and tend to forget that children have changing needs. Today's teachers learn more progressive teaching methods such as portfolio assessment vs. testing, and sitting in groups instead of rows. There are few administrators willing to incorporate these changes into their schools. Education management needs to allow teachers the flexibility to teach their students using whatever methods actually work. There is no reason why children should not look forward to school.
For the most part, our education system is devoted to teaching students. There is great concern that students should be prepared to move on to higher stages of education. Tests are given periodically to gauge students' progress. There is much discussion how improving education and better preparing students for the world. Students do learn, and many excel, but school is still viewed as drudgery by most students.
If our education system is to prepare children for the world educators need to look more closely at curriculum. Art, philosophy, history, math, English and science are all important subjects. They teach us about the world around us and how things work. The social setting of the educational facilities also compels students to learn about society and what is acceptable behavior. However, are we properly preparing our students for the world? Are we teaching life skills like personal finance and relationship dynamics? Can we lower the rate of divorce or the number of poverty-stricken retirees by educating students in these areas? Our education system needs to incorporate fundamental life skills into the curriculum. The focus on education should not stop at the goal to create an intelligent adult. The education system must also attempt to create a responsible citizen, an asset to the community.
The American education system is not entirely broken. There are many positive things happening. Progressive teaching methods are being employed and the student is being recognized as more of an individual. America cannot stop here. We need to ask ourselves if the moral fabric of our country can be improved through education. The education system plays a larger role in our lives than any other one thing. The system needs to use this influence to improve society as a whole and people as individuals.