Lacey Smith

Improving education without rejecting the system Pt 2

In Education on January 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Back clear before Christmas, I talked about the problems and  by best-case-scenario for our education system. I also gave you part 1 of 2 of my more realistic solutions for the very broken way we “educate” you kids.

Holiday busyness prevented part 2, but it’s finally finished (for all one or two of you who have been anxiously awaiting it…)

My suggestions one and two were that we needed to evaluate teacher pay and the overall structure of our schools (specifically age-based grade levels and uniform diploma requirements). My third suggestion is that we need to look at our expectations.

What do we expect out of our pre-college and university education? Does our current system meet these requirements?

I would say,  speaking generally, we expect elementary school to teach the basics that students need to move on to secondary schools where they will be prepared for college where they will be prepared for the real world. The end-goal of college (whether it be a bachelors or graduate school) is to prepare students for the “real world” of a career.

I would say we are definitely failing on this.

Let’s just leave elementary schools out of this equation for now. They have their own unique problems, but as they are not the end of the line there is room to repair issues later on. That’s not a luxury we have with high school and college.

Many states are reforming their education system, recognizing that they are not doing an adequate job of preparing students for college.

To this end, states are increasing their high school graduation requirements, mostly by adding more math and science courses. I wonder if this is wise or if it will accomplish the goal.

I only needed one math and one science course to graduate college. While I can appreciate the value of having more students trained in math and science, a blanket approach is probably the worst way to do it.

Students like me who have very little natural inclination or talent in these areas will likely drag the classes down, come to dislike these disciplines and in some cases might choose not to complete school rather than struggle through them (I have actually had a that sentiment expressed to me by students).

We will not create more scientists by forcing everyone to take four years of science classes in high school.

This will better prepare some students, but certainly not all of them. It is an unreasonable expectation.

We also need to look at college. Does it prepare students for the job field?

I have interviewed a number of college graduates for jobs and found that their education left them lacking. We need more real experience and not book learning in our colleges.

I know many college degrees provide students with book knowledge that is crucial to their field. However, nothing beats experience.

We also have insane college degrees like “Women’s Studies” that essentially only allow students to get a graduate degree and teach the same program that left them without job prospects. That’s crazy.

Additionally, is it reasonable to expect that college is necessary? Moreover, is it reasonable to  expect that students right out of high school attend college? I think not.

For many students, college is an unnecessary expense as they try to figure out what they want to do with their lives. For others, college is simply not a course that is necessary for them.

As we continue to look at our education system, it is important to look at all our options. Rejecting the system is still probably the best choice, but is personal and not possible for everyone. We have to look at options within the system.

We need to reform teacher pay, change the age-based grade-level structure and reevaluate our expectations. That will go a long way in fixing the system.

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