By: Ryan Pettigrew
It’s well known that the American educational system isn’t living up to expectations as we steadily decline in world rankings, especially in math and science. To find the correct answer to the problem, we must thoroughly analyze it; which reveals serious cultural and strategic deficiencies that must be fixed before America can become great again.
We, as Americans, have a bad habit of making excuses for our actions rather than rationally assessing the problem to fix it properly. Claims are made that if schools had more funding, they’d be better but if this were true, all nations that were high educational spenders would also be high achievers and all low spenders would be low achievers when that’s clearly not the case, as there’s way more low spenders with high achievement than high spenders/high achievement and more high spenders with low achievement than the previous categories combined.
We also like to blame large class sizes but if this were a legitimate claim, then China (avg. class size of 54) and Japan (33) versus America’s (22), would be worse in educational rankings when that’s obviously not true. We have a million excuses in this country when statistics refute these claims every time.
It starts with American culture, where it’s not cool to be smart. Since most people are followers, this resonates deeply as most would sell out their dreams for popularity. Then you see intelligent people feeling the need to hide that and playing the “dumb blonde” or “dumb jock” roles to appear cool. With less people trying to achieve intellectual excellence, society itself suffers. Now America is known for Honey Boo Boo instead of innovation.
The next problem is our irrational strategy we have implemented to push low academic achievers forward to the detriment of high achievers. It’s noble to want to help low achievers do better in school but the solution to this is to separate kids according to ability so that high achievers are challenged rather than be bored to death. Every child should be challenged intellectually all throughout school but we’re too worried about hurting other children’s feelings when we can teach an important life lesson: that each person has unique skills and must master them while strengthening weaknesses. The long term consequences of this are that potential high academic achievers only receive a mediocre education when high achievers from other nations are challenged accordingly; then help their nations progress at a faster rate. Let’s face it, America allowed other nations to catch up.
American public schools rate progress on test scores, where teachers are rated on how well their students do on the national testing, so classes now focus on memorizing facts and preparing for tests instead of teaching cognition and conceptualization. We’re creating robots that can’t think for themselves then wonder why we lost our claims to greatness.
The solution is to teach individualism so kids know that achieving their highest potential and embracing the true self is cool rather than playing stupid. Students need to learn to think rather than memorize facts and every student should be challenged daily according to ability without concern for how this might hurt another kid’s feelings. This is a strategic issue completely separate from money; where throwing money at the wrong strategies is an absolute waste. If America doesn’t start implementing rational strategies instead of promoting “feel good” foolishness, we deserve to continue our downward spiral and then no one will feel good.