The American education system has been under constant renovation since the beginning of the 1950’s when the Cold War started and America suddenly started competing with Russia to be the best at everything. We started stressing the idea of sciences and technology, creating the dream of having a satellite that orbited the Earth and being able to land on the moon. And while the Cold War has been over for over twenty years, the American education system is still under renovation. The creation and stress on the idea of Common Core Standards has swept every public school across the nation, applauded by some and relished by others. Common Core Standards is just another way for the United States to push their new reason to better education; testing.
Everything about the modern public school education is about testing; making sure every school has good test scores so that they can get the appropriate funding from the state. While I understand the importance of testing and that it is a measurement to see what kind of students the school produces, I do not think it should be the end all be all of our education. Yes countries in Asia and Europe have extended school days and years, and yes some of them may test better than the United States, but that does not mean that their kids are getting a better education. Education should be more about applying what we learn to life situations and less about a test. For example, in my theater technology professor told my class that “you can study how to create a set all you want, but you’ve never really learned anything until you’ve done it “. The same thing can be applied to almost every subject in school; one cannot learn to write a paper until they write one, one cannot test experiment by looking at videos but by testing it. So if education is supposed to be applied to real life, then why are we stressing on a test? I feel like kids were more enthusiastic about education in the 1950’s not because it was easier, but because the goal was to get a job or to help create something. Education was not about a test, but to genuinely help a student further their education.
Testing is not the only reason why I believe our education system is floundering. I believe that because our education system is so dead set on getting ready for a test, our education system is hiring teachers who aren’t really able to teach or really show passion for their subject. What I mean by this is because there are so many requirements due to testing that teachers are unable to go into detail on a subject. If a student is unable to grasp a concept, a theme, or an idea the teacher does not have the time to go back and explain it to that student or group of students. Although there are tutors and after school help, not all students are able to have that luxury. Because of increased school budget cuts, many after school activities including extra help programs are no longer available. So that leaves two options; have the parents pay for an outside tutor (which usually will cost someone a good chunk of change), or have the student fend for themselves. While some people also have the luxury to pay for outside help, most people do not. This leaves the student to fend for themselves, most of the time ending with the student getting frustrated.
But increased stress on testing is not the only affect a student’s education, it’s the teacher themselves and what they have to bring to the table. If a teacher does not show any passion for the subject, for the students, or any drive to make the students’ lives better, the student’s education is at stake. My favorite classes in high school were the classes where the teacher that would make the effort to get to know you, who cared about their students, who cared about what they were teaching, teachers who went the extra mile and would apply what we learned to real life. Even in college, my favorite classes are the ones where the teacher shows passion. Unfortunately because some schools are in bad areas or corrupt school districts, they get teachers that could care less about anything I just said. While I understand that in many cases this is a ploy to keep the poor uneducated and thus keep them poor, I think that this every unfair. Every student should a get a chance to have an amazing education. Thus we should be putting teachers that actually care in inner city schools. Because whether people believe it or not, passion is what interests people, not the subject. When I was working with the inner city students this summer one of the most common things said was “normally I don’t care about that subject, but the professor was so passionate about it that I couldn’t help but be interested”. So maybe instead of hiring any teacher off the street, allow someone who cares to teach our youth.
The American Education is a system that is under constant change. It seems to be molded into something new every day. Its current stage deals with the idea of testing and our Common Core Standards. While I understand the importance of testing and the ideology that America has to be the best, whatever happened to the idea of actually using our knowledge to create a better lives for ourselves? Whatever happened to being passionate about education? I want to be an educator, and I intend to teach subjects that I am passionate about, no just something I’m good at. One thing about passion is that you should strive to become better, and I will strive to be a better educator for all of my future students so they can become better citizens. Test scores are only test scores, but becoming a better person and striving to find your passions are so much more important.