Wednesday, October 19, 2011

problems in American child education

I am not an expert by any means, but I just got through a troubling tutoring session and I feel the need to post this while the subject is fresh in my mind.

Just to be clear, the troubling part was mostly not the student (my 4th grade cousin), but rather his academic (and thus mental, and physical) suffering due to a public education and popular culture that has failed him.

I have three (3) observations in the matter:

1) His education being public is at the whim of politics, so I cannot quite hold the public educators themselves responsible for this debacle. I have long heard the phrase "No Child Left Behind" has turned into "Every Child Left Behind" and I am beginning to think they are correct in saying that.

It has become clearer and clearer to me that his teachers aren't teaching him what he needs to know (and more particularly aren't giving proper explainations). I am making a broad generalization here assuming that his experience is commonplace and widespread. I may be wrong about that.

2) Low standards are the rule of the game, sad to say. When I was in college (yes, college) my half-baked efforts on some assignments still garnered an "A" grade, even while I myself knew I deserved a "C". Except for certain "hard" classes, where I felt I was more honestly tested. I actually had to work for a good grade.

In high school, I had the same experience.

Now this was at a public university. My above observations have been true in my experience in all public schools, but are quite possibly not universally true.

Part of this is due to popular culture, partly due to political correctness. Which is also popular culture, in a fashion.

But I think it is a tragedy, simply put.

3) Popular culture (in America, at least) has convinced children that learning stops when the school bell sounds. This is one area that I feel qualified to speak in. A precious minority of children (and their families) do not beleive that particular lie, and populate extracurricular academics.

Academic obesity, if you will.

I'm not sure that a child's laziness is really a culprit.

This is an even worse tragedy, as I see it.


  1. i have a few reflections (all my own personal opinions, of course): 1) around here, they call "no child left behind" "no teacher left standing". the rules of the game seem to have removed any teacher control from the curriculum while leaving them responsible for its result. it's not necessarily that they don't know what a child needs or aren't ready to teach it; they have to implement the curriculum handed down to them.

    2) grades aren't true reflections of learning. I wonder if they ever have been. Grades are subjective and meaningless.

    3) Schools have expanded their reach more deeply into the after-school hours (to say nothing of starting school at younger and younger ages). Between school hours, bus rides and homework, I'm impressed families have any time at all together for social/academic/whatever activities.

    I feel about our educational system the way I do about the economy: scrap it and start over from scratch.

  2. Hey Ox,
    I'm actually reading your blog...
    Anyway, I have to agree about the grading. It is very subjective. And the schooling in private schools is probably better because they can tailor their curriculum as they please. However, there is also danger in that too. Did you ever read our sister's books from her Christian School? Very advanced, but obviously heavily biased. They taught things as fact that were beliefs right along with scientifically proven facts- with no differentiation. Also, class size is way to big. There is no way a teacher can make sure each child understands everything when they have to deal with 30+ children on a daily basis.