Last post I noted that I had some opinions regarding the perceived educational standing of the United States in the world.
A December 2013 article entitled U.S. Students Slide In Global Ranking On Math, Reading, Science posted on “the TwoWay” an npr website stated, “The top overall scores came from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macao and Japan, followed by Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Estonia.”
The Internet is filled with articles lamenting the poor showing of American students on standardized tests. At first glance we are concerned and worry about the state of education in the U.S. The politicians and others with agendas use these statistics to further their own causes. All of them use the stats to whip everyone into panic! They scream – something must be done!
I would like to offer an opposing view.
Each of the countries noted above are small and the population homogeneous. Is it easier to fix a family dinner for 30 people of varying ages, likes, dislikes, and stages of health or a family dinner for two adults?
The United States educates the “30” while the countries noted above educate the “two.”
The U.S. has always been a melting pot. People from all cultures, from the entire world call America home. No other country is as diverse as the U.S. This makes establishing a single educational standard that fits everyone impossible. (Also the reason that Common Core is a bad idea!)
Additionally our country is quite diverse geographically. Some may wonder what this has to do with education. Public schools are tasked with educating local children. Children living in Alaska need to learn some skills for which children in Hawaii have no use. Children in the Midwest wouldn’t need either of these sets of skills.
Then there is the entertainment element. We love our sports. We enjoy our leisure time. These plus numerous other activities claim chunks of our time. And the majority of Americans are not willing to give these up. We want well-rounded kids.
The high achieving countries noted above do not put the emphasis on sports or leisure that we do.
So the question is: “Do we want a nation of clones who will score higher on standardized tests or do we want a diverse culture where each is not only allowed, but encouraged to find their own way?”