• Anonymys
    103
    Ill, leave this for open discussion... However, I will say that growing up as an American, I have seen the long term effects of bad education vs good education. Including a lack of general understanding, being behind in math and reading comprehension, as well as frustration because I didn't understand what I was doing wrong. I would do the HW, spend extra time studying, and still, I wasn't accomplishing what I wanted to in terms of school. Then, when students from other countries would come, they would be ahead in everything: Math, the sciences, etc. They would also do better in school even though they didn't speak the language as well as I did.

    Is there a way to fix the American education system to better elevate the education levels? Or do we blame the fact that 27% of America is made up of 1st or 2nd generational immigrants and thus leading to the system having to adjust for them?
    How would you fix this dilemma?

    1. Why is the American Education System Failing? (10 votes)
        Blame the System
        50%
        Blame the immigrants
          0%
        Other
        50%
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I could have picked "the system" if "the system" meant American society. We can't restrict blame to "the education system" because other big systems are deeply involved in the design and outcome of schooling. Immigrants? No.

    Education is a collective enterprise to which most people grant ready assent, BUT the details of who, what, how, and when present very large problems, because elites--and not the masses--are in a position to define and shape what will happen in the classroom.

    If you ask a reasonably educated reasonably well-employed "middle class" adult what a really good education should consist of, they will probably say something along the lines of a good high school education should produce graduates who:

    can read very well (meaning 'with very good comprehension')
    can express themselves fluently (can skillfully speak and write standard English)
    can understand, perform, and apply general mathematics
    can understand, perform, and apply general scientific principles
    possess a good grasp of world, American, and local history
    possess a general familiarity with English literature (British and American)

    IF a student is educated in an affluent school district, they will probably receive this kind of education with "frills" like music and art. BUT most students (maybe 75%) are not educated in affluent school districts whose adults share a consensus of what a good school should produce and a determination to obtain it.

    Most students (75%) live in school districts which are not affluent. They are characterized by either "adequate income" or they are in varying degrees of economic decline or poverty. The adults in these districts share less confidence in the best methods to promote their children's welfare. Train them in vocational skills? Prepare them for college? It isn't clear to the adults because the economic futures of their children is, in fact, not clear. It is also unclear what their future is as citizens. This isn't a question of taking civics classes; it's a question of what kind of role they are going to fulfill in society, above and beyond being workers.

    If ruling class elites have a clear vision of the future, it probably doesn't bode well for 75% of American children. A well educated, civically and politically active, and informed citizenry really isn't in their best interest. Well educated, civically and politically active, and well-informed citizens are more likely to resist the implementation of projects serving elite interests.
  • Modern Conviviality
    34
    We've lost the tools of learning, to steal Dorothy Sayer's phrase. We are producing information parrots and research people not virtuous and wise citizens.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Why is the American Education System Failing?Anonymys

    Bad parenting and anti-intellectual sub-cultures.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753

    Be careful there.

    Anecdotes about your own subjective educational experience and the seemingly superior preparation of students from foreign countries cannot be the basis of an objective evaluation and rational response to the state of elementary and secondary education in the U.S.

    Nor can the subjective opinions of strangers on the internet.

    Where are the objective facts?

    I would not be surprised to find that the objective quantitative and qualitative measurements of the performance of U.S. schools do not show alarming failure and may even show reason to be pleased. The alarmism about failing schools may just be ideologues trying to justify their pet interventions such as privatization, charter schools, school choice / vouchers, destroying teachers' unions, etc.

    Parents, teachers and school administrators need help and support, not criticism and shame. You'd probably be surprised how much of their own money teachers spend on students; the lucrative careers they forgo to be teaching in elementary and secondary schools; etc.

    My advice would be to take every opportunity you get to thank a teacher for everything he/she does. That small gesture might be the shot in the arm--the second wind--that he/she​ needs to overcome any adversity that schools face.

    And the source of that adversity is external, not internal. I would argue that it boils down to asking schools to do everything from reducing poverty to eliminating discrimination and inequality when the only thing they should be asked to do is mold lifelong learners.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    I wouldn't blame anyone. You're competing with the brightest minds from other countries in public schools in many cases. Also, idolizing how awesome an NBA player makes and how many games he or she has played in isn't a winning strategy either. The quality of education is also not something that can be learned due to inherent characteristics of the person being educated about X matter.
  • prothero
    228
    The education system has not changed much in the last 200-300 years. We still stick "students" in the classroom and have someone lecture at them for 45-60 minutes. The lecturers have varying degrees of enthusiasm and or skill at holding the interest of the captive audience. School may have been the most interesting part of one's day one hundred years ago, but school now competes with social media, media in general, technology and the internet.

    In this environment school is incredibly boring by comparison. We have not yet learned how to integrate technology, form working groups of students and allow learning at one's own pace or interest. In addition, schools can no longer remove those students who are disruptive to the "learning environment". Schools have to expend considerable resources "babysitting" students who either have no desire to learn or are incapable of learning due to physical or mental disability.

    For all that, at least at the collegiate and university level, American schools remain among the best in the world, and attract talented students from around the world. The notion that the purpose of secondary schools is to prepare all students for "college" is a misguided "progressive liberal" myth. Not all students are capable of or interested in doing college work and bringing back vocational training to prepare students for actual jobs in the actual economy would be a favor to all.
  • BlueBanana
    917
    The education system has not changed much in the last 200-300 years. We still stick "students" in the classroom and have someone lecture at them for 45-60 minutes. The lecturers have varying degrees of enthusiasm and or skill at holding the interest of the captive audience. School may have been the most interesting part of one's day one hundred years ago, but school now competes with social media, media in general, technology and the internet.prothero

    Yet in nordic countries for example, which have highly ranked education systems, they use these very same methods. The content and methods of education are more important than the tools and environment of education.

    For all that, at least at the collegiate and university level, American schools remain among the best in the world, and attract talented students from around the world.prothero

    The university level is not all that matters. Afaik there are huge problems with the education at priamry school and high school levels.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    I also think, there's too much emphasis on college level education and not enough on technical schools that you see in Europe. Nowadays because of that overemphasis on getting a BA, everyone has one, and it's harder and harder to differentiate your inherent skills in some field, stand out from the crowd, and make money that is equinumerous with your level of expertize talents, and interest than not.

    It's a problem of not anyone per se, but of a growing population, and lack of ability at identifying traits that would allow said a student from accomplishing something with their ability level. There's no real solution to this situation, unfortunately, because telling a student what they will be good at in the future is mired with trouble with the notion of equality and Lockean 'tabula rasa' enshrined in schools nowadays. Many people end up with so-called 'lost years' trying to find out themselves what they will/would be good at doing in schools. The upside is that you're the only one to blame for your misfortunes, rather than being unhappy with said circumstances from some external factor.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I also think, there's too much emphasis on college level education and not enough on technical schools that you see in Europe. Nowadays because of that overemphasis on getting a BA, everyone has one...Posty McPostface

    Actually, a third of adults 25 or older have a bachelors degree or higher.

    The heart of the "education vision" problem is what are young people going to do for a living? Many parents look to higher education for a road to security for their children. Unfortunately, a BA is not a guarantor of much. Not that a BA is bad, it just isn't work-ready preparation, in many cases. Many parents and students look down their nose at trade schools, but getting trained in 'heating, ventilation, and air conditioning' (HVAC) is a better guarantor of security than a BA in history.

    Europeans seem to have a clearer view of the how to educate people with respect to employment. (However, there are lots of unemployed young people in Europe).
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    School may have been the most interesting part of one's day one hundred years ago, but school now competes with social media, media in general, technology and the internet.

    In this environment school is incredibly boring by comparison.
    prothero

    This is an insightful observation. Prior to the deluge of television in the mid to late 1950s, (which by its nature is more immersive than any earlier amusement) there were film, radio and print, and recorded music. People were more likely to engage in face-to-face interaction during their leisure time.

    When I started first grade in 1952, yes, school was the most interesting part of the day. That stayed true for the next 12 years (more or less, but then I grew up in a cultural backwater).
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I would not be surprised to find that the objective quantitative and qualitative measurements of the performance of U.S. schools do not show alarming failure and may even show reason to be pleased.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    This is certainly true for the schools that do a good job of educating about a quarter of the school population -- the schools in affluent, education-minded suburbs, for instance.

    Many schools are failing to do a good job, partly through their own deficiencies, partly through the deficiencies of the students, their families, and their neighborhoods.

    The alarmism about failing schools may just be ideologues trying to justify their pet interventions such as privatization, charter schools, school choice / vouchers, destroying teachers' unions, etc.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    This is a highly pertinent observation. Various groups want to somehow gain public financial support for schools which are tailored to meet their expectations -- something which public schools will tend to not do. So various schemes are devised to divert funds from public school budgets into institutions which are less than public schools.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Bad parenting and anti-intellectual sub-cultures.Thorongil

    Children coming out of the minority cultures of poverty fit into the category of "bad parenting" -- except that the parents can't help it. The parents are reproducing their own experience of growing up with a rather limited or blunt approach to linguistic interaction. Then there is bad parenting which parents could help, but don't.

    Explicitly anti-intellectual sub-cultures are another problem. Some, like the Amish, are anti-intellectual, but they have the virtue of being more or less self-sustaining self-containing communities. There are also religious anti-intellectual sub-cultures that are more conventional, and if their children are ignoramuses, the religious sub-culture won't be taking responsibility for them.

    The worst anti-intellectual groups are the anti-evolution, anti-vax, anti-secular, anti-all-learning know nothings.
  • BlueBanana
    917
    Afaik the american education puts a heavy emphasis on memorization and learning the subject being taught instead of understanding and applying that information. For example, homework is awfully easy and there is a high amount of it.

    I haven't myself lived in america so I don't have any experience of their schools, mind you. Everything I'm saying is based on what I've heard from other people.
  • unenlightened
    4.1k
    when students from other countries would come, they would be ahead in everything: Math, the sciences, etc. They would also do better in school even though they didn't speak the language as well as I did.

    Is there a way to fix the American education system to better elevate the education levels? Or do we blame the fact that 27% of America is made up of 1st or 2nd generational immigrants and thus leading to the system having to adjust for them?
    Anonymys

    There's something just a tad odd in complaining that Johnny Foreigner is better educated than you and in the next breath blaming him for dragging you down.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Afaik the american education puts a heavy emphasis on memorization and learning the subject being taught instead of understanding and applying that information. For example, homework is awfully easy and there is a high amount of it.BlueBanana

    Your criticism that students in the US are not being taught understanding and application could well be true. But it's been a long time since I was in high school.

    My impression is that most American students are not learning many subjects in depth. There is a lot of talk about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), but whether many students are learning STEM or not, don't know.

    Are students learning how "history works"? I don't think so. I would guess that quite a few college students, even, finish their education without having much understanding of the role of class--how the personal and collective interests of the wealthiest classes tended to drive policy. I don't think students learn all that much about historical economic policy, either. For instance, did railroads lead the settling of the western parts of the US (and "the west" kept moving westward from Ohio to California), or did they follow? (They frequently led.)

    I don't think psychology is much--or well--taught either. But then, it has been a long time since I was there. But what I read, see, and hear indicates that students are not leaving school with much understanding of human psychology. (maybe people never have had much of that.)

    Memorization isn't all bad. While one can summon information these days with a few flicks of five fingers, it helps to have some things installed on board--like grammar, spelling, and punctuation rules. It's one thing to find a quote from Shakespeare--it can make one look more learnéd than one is--it's something else to have read a few plays, poems, books... thoroughly.
  • BlueBanana
    917
    Memorization isn't all bad. While one can summon information these days with a few flicks of five fingers, it helps to have some things installed on board--like grammar, spelling, and punctuation rules. It's one thing to find a quote from Shakespeare--it can make one look more learnéd than one is--it's something else to have read a few plays, poems, books... thoroughly.Bitter Crank

    True, learning languages for example (including one's first language) is much about memorization and the basic knowledge of all subjects must be memorized in order to learn to apply it.
  • protheroAccepted Answer
    228
    You know I would say American society is failing our students.
    I think schools and teachers are doing the best they can under current constraints and paradigms.
    We have to get rid of the notion everyone can do integrals and differentials if the schools were just good enough.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    You know I would say American society is failing our students.
    I think schools and teachers are doing the best they can under current constraints and paradigms.
    We have to get rid of the notion everyone can do integrals and differentials if the schools were just good enough.
    prothero

    Everything from parents, to motivation, to ability to control behaviors, to peer pressure, to natural ability, to inclination, and a whole variety of factors are involved in the "failing of our students". Schools and teachers are simply targets to shift the more nuanced and complex factors at play. Carpentry, plumbing, electricians, electronics, and the like should be taught with the math that is useful for carrying these functions out for many who are wrongly steered in a "college-only" direction. Unfortunately, in some communities, even these type of aspirations are lacking, in which case you are really screwed. Not everything can be socially engineered. Certain varieties of people don't want to be brought out of their habits and ways of thinking. The schools in these communities are called failed schools. Not all communities want or like the "middle class" lifestyle. Perhaps @Bitter Crank has a few words on this.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Perhaps Bitter Crank has a few words on this.schopenhauer1

    We live in a mature capitalist economy which has probably reached the end of its phase of dynamic growth. (That doesn't mean that the economy will now collapse.) Institutions which effectively serve expanding economies don't work as well in less dynamic, slow growth ones.

    It's relatively easy to construct a sound narrative about why poor whites, poor blacks, immigrants, et al do poorly in school, don't advance to high paying jobs, and end up occupying the lower quintile of the economic distribution. It's much harder (like, not possible) to prescribe a plan which would lift everyone up and out of poverty.

    It's also difficult to determine what white, advantaged, and intelligent children should do to secure a good future. It just isn't clear anymore to me how to advise people on these matters.

    I think a lot of people simply don't perceive a way forward that offers a lot of promise. College degrees are less help than they once were to land a good job; skilled trade work (brick layer, carpenter, HVAC, plumber, printer, medical tech, etc.) lack status among some groups, even though the rates of pay are quite good. (Status is not a trivial concern.)

    Clarity can't magically dispel a fog of confusion in a confusing world.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    I think a lot of people simply don't perceive a way forward that offers a lot of promise.Bitter Crank

    I would argue that they need to join the 21st century.

    It has been common knowledge as far back as I can remember that the days of completing one's education and then retiring with a pension after 30-40 years of service to the same employer are long gone. It is common knowledge that most people will change jobs several times and must continuously acquire new knowledge and skills.

    It may sound harsh, but if people don't have a plan to acquire certain marketable knowledge and skills and a plan for how to market them, that's their own irresponsibility, not any kind of failure in public policy or bad economic circumstances.

    "What do you want to be when you grow up?" doesn't work anymore. There's nothing waiting for anybody no matter how he/she answers that question. The more appropriate question now is, "How are you going to contribute to a global, volatile economy that favors nothing except efficiency?"
  • Anonymys
    103
    There's something just a tad odd in complaining that Johnny Foreigner is better educated than you and in the next breath blaming him for dragging you down.unenlightened

    I assumed the fact that you were in my head... my mistake, I was originally talking about foreigners from two different specific countries.
  • Wallows
    9.6k


    Most of the best engineers already have some technical expertise as in formal education in technical schools to then later develop more skills in the field. There's a misconception that your landlocked once after a technical school, which many employers will actually encourage further education in the field to make you an even more productive worker. This might be a particular instance for engineering and not something like of the liberal arts flavor.
  • Gotterdammerung
    15
    Perhaps the system is failing because the expectation is that education = Job. That is the aim of modern education to pull people out of poverty or bad ecconomic circumstances, and to ensure that those, well off stay that way. What happened to education = knowlegde/wisdom. If we focused on Teaching usefull knowledge and wisdom the former problem would sort itself out. I think weve lost sight of the purpose of education, Now theres just social indoctrination.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    What happened to education = knowlegde/wisdom.Gotterdammerung

    Well, economically were not at a stage where we can sit back and relax. Compounded with the fact that human desire knows no bounds it'll stay that way until your wants and desires are all fulfilled. I'm a simple man and enjoy philosophical truths and Buddhist koan's. What your really asking here is whether the human condition can be shaped and formed like Playdough. I don't think that is something that can be imposed or forced onto people, only cultivated and nurtured. Then again if you are out to maximize pleasure, as many people seem like hedonists nowadays including the entire structure of our economy and even moreso is cultivated by the elites and mass media, then I don't expect a profound change in the human condition anytime soon until something disastrous and calamity happens, like war or rapid global warming.
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