We’re in a lot of trouble when it comes to the quality of education our children are receiving and the lack of hard work, dedication, and persistence, they’re being taught. Let me remind you that I do know some children have these qualities I’m just addressing those that don’t. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but many of the countries who are performing better than us have college students that were in the top of their class teaching grade school and high school. We miss out on some great teachers because the pay that teachers receive is much lower than what our top students can get in the private sector. How about we do away with the old fashioned pay scale that our schools are using and pay more for talent; especially in biology, math, and science? What harm would there be to see if by doing this we’d get a better return on our investment? There is no doubt that if I was going to college and I knew about these opportunities, I’d be much more inclined to become a teacher.
One of the problems we have is that parents don’t support their children’s teachers and/or the school. What’s even worse is they discuss their displeasures in front of their child. This causes the child to lose respect for their school/teacher and it gives them a built in excuse to not do well. It certainly isn’t a problem to discuss problems with other people just don’t do it around your children. If there are issues that are significant enough for you to go to the school to address then don’t let your child know you’re doing it.
Anything you don’t respect your child won’t respect either. I think that in most cases its far better to back up the teacher than your child. More than likely the teacher doesn’t have any agenda against your child while your child does have an agenda. I’m sure that most of the time you don’t get the full story from your child. If you don’t show respect for the teacher and the school system it will negatively impact your child. Students from other countries show a great amount of respect for their teachers and educational system. This is just another reason why they’re killing us in the classrooms.
I also feel the way we teach children and what we teach them is out of touch with what’s needed to compete in the world. Let me start with the way we teach them. Our teachers have lost control of the classrooms because they’re forced to be politically correct so they can keep their jobs. They’re afraid to discipline a child because of the repercussions. When I grew up teachers could still use the paddle; the fear of getting spanked helped keep me in line. There’re a lot of conflicting reports regarding paddling’s affect both mentally as well as physically on a child. I’d still authorize the school system to use paddling if needed but I also understand why some parents wouldn’t want to do it.
Unfortunately, teachers have little to no recourse for getting rid of disruptive children from their classrooms and this negatively affects the rest of the class’s ability to learn. Even when they try to expel a child from their class they often receive a lot of flak from the child’s parents so the principal sometimes allows the child back in. This takes the authority away from the teacher. If the teacher isn’t backed up she won’t receive any respect from her students. I don’t have a clue how bad of a student I would’ve been if I knew the teacher couldn’t do anything to me. This is probably why a lot of substitute teachers get abused. We’ve got to agree on some way to get problem children out of our classrooms. Once again, how can our children compete against other countries when we haven’t given them the best possible chance to learn?
My next subject is what we teach. Our educational system should be based on preparing our children for the real world period. We need our children to be great at math, reading, speaking, technology, writing, and working on project teams. From the very first grade these things should get almost every ounce of our children’s attention. By learning the things above along with learning moral values, hard work, and dedication from their parents, our children will end up with the tools they need to help our nation succeed.
One suggestion I have regarding reading is to put a series of the most popular books (like the Twigh light Saga) in the hands of young people. We need to get our children hooked on reading from the very start. We should continue this process throughout their education; reading classics in high school like we’ve done for years and discussing what they mean, bores most students to death. It turns them off from reading. Even if we think a particular book has no substance we should still give it to our students if it makes them want to read. They can read more serious books later on but at least they’ll want to do it.
Regarding math, I believe we aren’t teaching children what they need in order to perform effectively in the business world. In a majority of cases companies need employees who understand adding, dividing, multiplying, subtracting, and statistical analysis.
Basic algebra is also good to know but it isn’t necessary because companies know they can teach new employees algebraic principles that are directly applicable to their business. Companies don’t even bother calling what they do algebra it’s just a business application to them. The fact is most children don’t understand how algebra is used in business, it’s just a bunch of equations they are told to learn. We can’t afford to turn off any student from learning.
The pinnacle of math studies in the U.S. is calculus and most high school students are required to take it. Unless your child has decided to become an engineer, physicist, scientist, etc., they don’t need it. I believe we can get away with stopping the teaching of both Algebra and Calculus and instead make the application of statistics the pinnacle of math. Statistics are used everywhere in one form or another. Statistics are seen every day as news programs share various reports about things like: crime, healthcare, the economy, etc. We can’t get away from it. How much information that you see on television was based on algebra or calculus? Not much if any. Plus learning statistics can be fun for everyone in class because they could work on problems associated with Apple Computers, The Gap, Xbox, etc. So here we’d have something fun for students to learn and at the same time make them more valuable to the marketplace.
This will be a sensitive subject but let me address the study of history. The reason we’re told we need to learn history is so we can learn from the mistakes of our past; basically so history won’t repeat itself. Did the things you learn in history help prevent you from making bad decisions? I really enjoy reading about history and recently read about The French and Indian War all the way through to World War II. Although the books I read were great I can’t say I learned many lessons I could apply to my life. For me it was just fun but it probably isn’t enjoyable to a lot of people.
We only have so much time available to teach our children so everything we share should directly prepare our children to compete. I’m not saying to not teach some history; we certainly should teach American History but the value they get from State History or World History isn’t that much. We could pick and choose what would be valuable to them even with U.S. history. After school they could read up on all the history they’d like as some students are into it while others aren’t.
I will more than likely upset some people with what I’m about to share, but much of what we teach our children is part propaganda. Eugene Grant said: “History is written by the winners.” In other words a historian isn’t going to turn in a report and share all of the stupidity that took place by the side who won. Historians also didn’t want to share anything negative as to why the winning side went to war in the first place. The job of historian was both a dangerous and political one. One negative story could mean an immediate loss of their job and of course sometimes, a loss of their life. Not a job I’d be interested in unless it included extremely high hazardous duty pay!
We aren’t immune to the slight manipulation of historical facts. It reminds me of what Mark Twain said: “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” If you ask U.S. citizens why our forefathers left England to head for America, the normal response is that it was due to religious persecution. If you ask them what else, they probably wouldn’t have an answer.
I certainly agree they left partly due to the influence of the Church of England; but it’s not like The Church of England was beating or killing them. There were also a few other denominations there so some of them had options. I believe this reason alone wouldn’t have been enough for them to take the huge risks they did; it’s not like they were travelling over on a nice Carnival Cruise ship.
Our forefathers didn’t like the fact that the main religion was government sponsored just like we wouldn’t’ want our government coming up with a religion for us. But the fact is, the primary reason our forefathers were willing to risk it all was for financial reasons; the same motive that’s been around for thousands of years. The folks coming over here from England weren’t a bunch of religious zealots fleeing persecution. History tells us what typically motivates people to take risks are influence, power, and /or money.
Another example of historical omission is The Boston Tea Party. There is absolutely no doubt that settlers were tired of the monopoly the East India Trade Company had on tea imports and that England taxed the tea without any of the tax revenues benefitting the settlers. Remember taxation without representation! Besides dumping tea in the harbor the settlers also refused to unload ships. The Royal Governors from England were livid because they knew they’d lose their jobs if the settlers refused to take tea from the East India Trade Company. Of course this ended up turning ugly and laid the groundwork for the revolution. If a U.S. citizen were asked what the Boston Tea Party was all about they’d probably remember that it was about taxes but they probably couldn’t come up with any other motive.
The best common sense when trying to figure out why something happened is to follow the money. In this case several settlers were entrepreneurs and they had set up a black market for importing tea. It’s only natural that this would occur. With this in mind, they were politicking as hard as they could (kind of like lobbyist) to shut the East India Trade Company down from exporting product to the colonies. Their business would go through the roof if they could get rid of their major competitor. I understand that a huge part of why the settlers tossed the tea in the harbor was due to taxation without representation but that isn’t the whole story. We are taught history so we won’t repeat it but it makes it kind of hard when students don’t know all the facts.
Let’s evaluate the settlers’ desire to head west and how it might have facilitated our pursuit to seek independence. The French and Indian War was from 1754 – 1763 and it was actually a war between Britain and France. They were both fighting for real estate from Canada on down to Louisiana. Various Indian tribes were being used by both the British and the French to help them fight. The British told the Indians they would provide continuous supplies of food and other goods and they also promised they would stop the English settlers from moving in to their land in order to get all of the tribes to fight for them. This was the hot issue at the time to the Indians so they jumped on Britain’s side.
In thinking about why we went to war against England did you ever consider there might be more to it than religious persecution and taxes? At the same time Britain was fighting the war against the French they were trying to clamp down on English settlers who were pushing the established boundaries between the colonies and Indian Territory. Now it wasn’t so much that Britain was an honorable country who always wanted to keep their promises but they knew that in order to keep the Indian’s support they had to deliver on their word.
So here we go again, follow the money. As they moved into various settlements some people made out and some didn’t; as usual it was a case of the early bird catches the worm. So the first ones there got the good land with the rivers and creeks and they got to set up businesses like animal stock trading, blacksmithing, hotel, saloon, etc. So as it normally is, the ones who weren’t benefitting the most figured they would go further west to where they had a better chance to position themselves for the best land and business opportunities.
Talk about a need for a Revolution! They had to get rid of British rule or their dreams would be crushed. I’m certainly not saying this issue is the only reason everyone joined in the fight against Britain but it’s a contributing factor that as far as I know, hasn’t made its way into our classrooms. Greed is a natural human trait but it wasn’t something early historians wanted to bring up for obvious reasons. It certainly sounded better to say the colonies were fighting against British tyranny than to bring up their financial motives.
Have you ever wondered how our history books have so much great information about people who lived thousands of years ago like Alexander the Great? We were informed about when he had his first battle, how many people died in the various wars he was involved in, the brilliant military strategies he deployed, where he travelled. Let me ask you, who in the world tracked all of it and how accurate is the information? Did the historian count the dead bodies? Was he with Alexander the Great all of the time and had insight into his strategies and tactics? I don’t think so.
I don’t know if this is true but I read once that a major historian who wrote about Alexander the Great did it two hundred years after Alexander the Great died. Nothing would surprise me when it comes to historical record keeping so I for one wouldn’t discount it. The problem is that I was tested on this material in school so I spent time studying it. Why should I have been tested on material that wasn’t historically accurate? And what information that I studied about Alexander the Great do you think I later applied in my life? Nothing I can think of.
I don’t think we should place a lot of time and attention on history when it isn’t exactly the truth. Our students should definitely have a good understanding of U.S. history but I believe that subjects like the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, etc., should get way more attention than the subject of history. I’d prefer they be experts on those subjects because they will directly impact their lives.
This particular topic definitely has a variety of opinions but I think children shouldn’t have three months off during the summer nor should they have a Spring Break. All that time off definitely doesn’t prepare them for the real world. The primary reason I make this recommendation is that common sense tells me that if children in other countries are beating us dramatically in the classroom then we should take a look at how they’re doing it. Research has shown their students spend at least 25% more time in their pursuit of education. Of course extra time in our classrooms won’t matter much unless we change how and what our children our learning.
We need to do a better job selling our students on how what they’re learning will help them later in life; basically what are the applications of what they’re learning. It’s certainly the approach that we use in business. If we want to sell someone something we have to convince her that she has a need. Students aren’t any different.
Another problem we have as to why other countries are outperforming us is due to the limited emphasis parent’s put on studying and that our students haven’t been taught how to effectively study. Our students don’t study as much or as hard as students from places like China and India. I can’t remember which study this particular number came from, but it read that our students give up on a difficult problem 40% faster than students around the world. Our kids quickly go to the back of the book for answers, access the internet, or ask their parents for help while students from places like Japan and India are told they must come up with an answer on their own. They have to be patient and persistent. Great characteristics to learn!
There is a documentary titled: Two Million Minutes. The title represents the number of minutes students are in high school. The documentary follows students from China, India, and the U.S., in order to compare how they spend their time.
As the film goes back and forth between typical days in the three countries it shows American students focusing on recreation while both Chinese and Indian students spend their time studying. Indian students meet for teacher-led study sessions at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings while their American counterparts sleep in until noon. While American students spend time going to movies, hanging out with friends, playing video games, etc., their Chinese and Indian counterparts pretty much study all the time because their parents push them to succeed. American teenagers had trophies in their rooms for basketball, football, soccer, etc., while the high school students in other countries had ribbons and trophies from math competitions, science competitions, spelling bees, etc. I saw a news report one time where they interviewed some Chinese students. They said something I consider scary and that is, “We will become a Super Power not through military strength but through knowledge. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it!
Our current approach towards education wouldn’t be a problem if our young people were competing against other young people in the U.S. It would be great if they could enjoy life more and take the summer off and play video games or go to the movies. Those good old days are over because we’re now competing against the world. I promise you that our children will be much better off making sacrifices now than to make sacrifices for the rest of their lives. We have to somehow get that through their heads.
To wrap up this topic, we need radical not tweaked changes to how we educate our children. It’s only natural that the Department of Education will aggressively push back on these proposed changes. You might not agree with me but I think if we don’t start making changes immediately we will find ourselves too far down the path to be a superpower. Other countries once respected us but now that things have changed and we have a global economy they don’t respect us as much because what we’re bringing to the table is like that of an under-developed country. Please join me in fighting for change. It will take being persistent because the establishment will try and wear us down to where they hope we’ll quit the cause. I think this is too important an issue to think other people will take care of it. It’s time we step and create our own revolution. If we don’t, we might want to get a Rosetta Stone tape on learning Mandarin Chinese!