What Is Wrong With American Education

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UNIVERSITY OF PEDAGOGY DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH American Studies HANDOUT # 7 EDUCATION IN THE USA 7.1 EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY For the past fifty years American schools have operated on the theories of John Dewey (1859-1952), an American educator and writer. Dewey believed that the school's job was to enhance the natural development of the growing child, rather than to pour information, for which the child had no context, into him or her. In the Dewey system, the child becomes the active agent in his own education, rather than a passive receptacle for facts. Consequently, American schools are very enthusiastic about teaching "life skills" - logical thinking, analysis, creative problem solving. The actual content of the lessons is secondary…show more content…
In a 1988 study comparing students' knowledge of geography, American young adults came in last of nine countries. In fact, 18% of the American students couldn't even find the U.S.A. on a world map! Still other studies indicate that today's students are weak in mathematical problem-solving and writing skills. What's wrong with American education? To find the answer and to fix the problem, one must look at all of the elements: the students themselves, their parents, their teachers, the school curriculum, the textbooks, and the community. Many students simply do not study enough. (Two-thirds of high school seniors do an hour or less of homework per night.) American teenagers are often distracted by part-time jobs, sports and other school activities, TV, and socializing. Some do not keep up with their schoolwork because of emotional problems, use of illegal drugs, or simply lack of motivation. Clearly, if Americans are to become better educated, students must spend more time studying, and parents must insist that they do so. In the 1980s, criticism of American education stimulated a reform movement. As a result, 45 of the 50 states raised high-school graduation requirements. One government study recommended a longer school year. (Now, the average American student attends school about 180 days a year, compared to 210 for a Japanese student.) Efforts have also been underway to increase parental involvement in schools and to improve teaching. College programs that educate teachers are trying to encourage more academically talented students to choose teaching as a career. Schools of education are also improving their curriculum so that American teachers of the future will be better prepared. School administrators are working on curriculum revisions. Publishers are being urged to create textbooks that are more challenging, interesting, and objective.

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