Monday, March 14, 2005

Watered-down education- negative impact

There is no doubt in my mind that our public educational system is failing our children. Emphasis on critical thinking skills left the class room. Today, elementary school children are drilled to do well on standard achievement tests, which places undue stress not only on the child, but on their teachers as well. What does a teacher do when one or more of her students are not meeting the pre-test average? Many teachers become frustrated and angry with the curriculum; sadly, not many question the system.

Children with special needs are most affected by this type of learning, usually detrimental to their state of mind and well-being. Most of the time, the inability to cope triggers negative responses and subjects the child to a hostile environment. And what of the gifted child who must endure repetitious learning sans the creative component? Motivation is stifled and the child becomes bored, forcing him to accept the prescribed teaching.

Parents are frustrated as well, especially those who cannot afford one-on-one teaching; or a school with a smaller classroom setting.

Public education was meant to afford every child a free education, but how exactly is this defined? Furthermore, the premise that an education provides a future for a child to become a productive member of his society is no longer the norm, since high school drop out rates steadily increase.

This condition is further exacerbated by teachers who join unions and are convinced that they are under-paid, when in fact, teachers' salaries meet the national average. Click here for more on this: teachers' salaries fair. Clearly, even a good salary isn't enough to motivate these teachers. The human desire to excel in school is dampened by mediocre teaching skills, or worse, an "I don't care", attitude. Children intuit the feelings of adults and their attitudes are guided accordingly.

No doubt, our educational system needs major re-vamping. New research should be explored and accounts of current trends in education should be re-evaluated and addressed at the highest levels in government. Collective studies can shed some light on complex interactive questions in a way few single studies can.

The term, "teaching down" to our children is prevalent in our schools. This situation, although frowned upon, happens frequently and not much is being done to address the issue. Granted, the system perpetuates itself within each state and there are numbers upon numbers of schools that need direction, a seemingly impossible task. However, the U.S. Department of Education must think more creatively on how to resolve fundamental issues in teaching and learning and draw practical solutions that should benefit all states, collectively, but more importantly, our children.

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