Learning In America's Public Schools Today

Keeping up with what is actually being learned in our schools.

School song, school mascot, or school reputation...how does yours score?
School song, school mascot, or school reputation...how does yours score? | Source
Exercising the body, the mind, the spirit, does your local school do a good job of all three?
Exercising the body, the mind, the spirit, does your local school do a good job of all three? | Source
When was the last time you actively participated in a local public school?
When was the last time you actively participated in a local public school? | Source

There are three kinds of learning in today's public schools.

1. Learning that stays and can be recalled.

2. Learning that fades and is eventually lost.

3. Learning that never happens..

The learning that stays with us because it was actually learned, is the objective of any reputable education. It depends not just on educators, but also on students in order to happen at all. In some cases that partnership works and real learning takes place.

The learning that fades over time is part of public education's problems. If the educators are weak and not well equipped to adequately teach their subjects, learning can be poorly presented and poorly understood. If students are poorly motivated to learn, even a competent educator cannot hope for the students to retain what the educator has presented. "Studying just for the test" can mean that students who learn just to pass a test, will soon see that learning fade.

The real failings in public education occur when the learning never took place in the first place. Educators and students, as well as others, can all be guilty here, if the educator is not competent and the student is not motivated to participate in the learning process, real learning seldom occurs. Something else may be learned, but it won't be the subject matter.

The school districts, school boards., principals, parents, and the so-called "degree factories" can all be held responsible, if incompetent educators are put in public school classrooms and allowed to remain. But who is responsible, if compulsory education is delivered (even competently) to students who are not motivated to learn what is presented? We could guess at the roles of the students' partners of public education: society, parents, community mores, opportunity, and challenge.

Admittedly, compulsory education no longer effectively compels. Students drop out of school before completing what is called "a basic education." And some who "stick it out" have motives other than getting that basic education. Enjoying "the school scene" is one popular reason some unmotivated students stay in school. Feeling compelled by family traditions and expectations is another one, which for some students leads to excellence, while for others it just means they occupy a seat while full of apathy, with no true academic learning taking place.

For those unmotivated students, a way to stay in school without learning is to resort to cheating. Doing so literally guarantees that the offered learning, such as it is, doesn't happen. Cheating is learned. In some cases it is even cleverly perfected. But the objective of raising an educated generation adequately prepared for college, or any aspect of life beyond the classroom gets dealt a major blow.

Is cheating in today's classrooms widespread? Is it very different from cheating you were aware of when you were in public schools?

Here are the answers I have gathered from educators who work in today's public schools:

Cell phones, many if not most of which have memory and photo capabilities, as well as ipads, have added new cheating capabilities some cheating students resort to. The old “tried and true” methods of cheating such as writing formulas on some area of the body or clothing, crib notes, copying a neighboring student’s answers, etc., take on a new dimension with the new technology. In general, however, cheating varies from school to school, and area to area. In most it is still not widespread.

Some districts and schools have a “no exceptions” policy that forbids the use of cell phones during any classes, confiscates them when they are found to be in use, and requires that a parent or guardian come to the school to get the confiscated phone. The same would apply to any ipad found to be in use when not allowed, such as during a quiz or test.

The typical student reasoning behind cheating when it does occur is simply to improve a score, or to pass a test they were unprepared for, and it is not clear whether that tends to occur more in students who normally are high achievers, or among a segment of students who more typically under achieve.

Policies on the consequences cheating students face are less uniform between schools, but typically call for interaction between a school administrator, the classroom teacher, the student involved, and a parent or guardian. Measures taken for repeated cheating also vary widely from district to district, and from school to school.

~ o ~ o ~ o ~

Our public school teachers and administrators have always faced the challenges of how to provide America's youth with the best possible academic preparation. The students they have in their classrooms continue to present as many unique challenges as there are students to teach, whether the challenges involve language, preparaton, motivation, discipline, or problems the individual student may have with other students or matters otherwise unrelated to school hours.

As any of us think back on our best teachers and superior students we have known, we wish that every teacher and every student could be like them. They are not, and that fact, and the unique challenges educators and students face today with budget cuts, overcrowded classrooms, and decaying infrastructure, are just some of what will decide how well educators and students meet the challenges of providing and obtaining a quality education in America today.

The future of America depends on their getting it right.

_______

© 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.

Grading your public schools....

If you are familiar with today's public schools, what grade would you give them?

  • A Excellent)
  • B (Above Average)
  • C (Average)
  • D (Just passing)
  • Failing
See results without voting
These are our challenges.  They deserve our best.
These are our challenges. They deserve our best. | Source
The buildings have come a long way.  Let's take some action to insure that the learning has too.
The buildings have come a long way. Let's take some action to insure that the learning has too. | Source

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Comments 22 comments

cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

I agree with all you said, but one thing missing too is a child's respect for education. Bill Clinton once put forth the idea of uniforms and teachers being required to dress professionally, but it never went anywhere. I think kids need to feel that what they are doing in school is important, really important. I think uniforms also make kids less distracted by conformity, and more discriminating of peer pressures. For the parents, it's a money saver. Teachers who dressed professionally always made an impression on me when I was kid, especially when they were nice besides (I dressed in grunge). I owe so much too to one teacher who took me aside for two days after school because she saw I did not understand something. This shocked me because no one seemed to care about what I was doing before that. That teacher became a role model for me, and I stopped dressing so raggy.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Catholic schools often have the students dress alike as to boys' dress and girls' dress. Many prepschools expect shirts and ties, even suitcoats, and some of those have a school blazer for uniformity. There are ways to set a proper atmosphere for learning in any classroom. Some schools stick with what worked for them. What is the proper attire for writing one of your scholarly Hub Pages?


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

My daughter has a high level of Asperger's Syndrome and goes to a school that specializes for children like her. They wear uniforms. She is doing very well now. They take the same tests that the other teens in high school take. Before she went to this school, she was failing everything. No one would help her. The schools told us they were helping her, but they were not. The change she has had is amazing. I thank God for this school. I know it is a "Special School" but, she is taking classes like Latin, Chemistry. She would not have been able to ever do this, if she had not gone to this school. She even went to a "Tech Camp" and Ohio State University. She built a robot. Now she wants to be a person who works with computers. I will help her as much as I can. Ok, I am going shut up now :)


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Michele Travis: Open ended discussions anytime on my Hubs. There continue to be stories of inadequate schools and incompetent (even pedophile) educators. One advantage of vouchers can be that they allow parents and students and families to choose schools. You obviously made a good choice, as is your right and obligation to do when choices are available. Thumbs up!


glmclendon profile image

glmclendon 4 years ago

Perspycacious, I agree with most of what you said. Some kids have been put under so much stress at home and their other problems they have no time for school. They stay up all night working to take care of their sisters and brothers and want to sleep in your class.

This is no excuse, but if they are put out on the street they become the next robber. The jails are full of them. They don't know anything and they are not ready for the real world but this is what we are dealing with today.

We have children having children and they don't know how to raise the child, because they cannot raise themselves. I don't have the answer for this, but laying off teachers is not the answer.

Stay Well


cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

I was mainly talking about public schools. What do you mean what do I wear when I write "scholarly" hubpages? They are not scholarly. I am only writing about what happened to me in my life and what I see in life. The things that I see in life were not taught to me in school. They were taught me by my parents and their constant fighting. I almost failed high school, and I partied all through college. When I was in school, the word's in Pink Floyd's "They don't need no education" and "Teacher - leave those kids alone" was my favorite song.


cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

By the way, if you find the time for me, please respond if it is this picture I use that I look scholarly, because if it is that would be unfair and unscholarly. Truthfully, the things I wanted to learn were not available in school, and we wore what we wanted. For example, no one taught me why JD Salinger wrote 'Catcher in the Rye" or why Faulkner wrote "As I Lay Dying." They only taught intro., climax and resolution. My teachers wore jeans in an attempt to "relate" to the kids. For me, it only meant they were as unhappy as I was.


cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

Oh, and another thing. I brought up the picture only because at another time I posted here, on discussion of "evidence," in response to my quote, stated, "There's the evidence and I am not talking about religion." My picture means a lot, doesn't it? Answer: That's why I use it!!!!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

glmclendon: I have added a link to this Hub which is a joint task force study done on America's public schools today. If you have the time, skim through that one. I hope readers will. Our nation's children are our most important natural resource, and the most disgracefully wasted one. If we can squeeze needed oil out of shale rocks, we better start squeezing more scholars out of sub-par schools. Unfortunately sub-par schools and "basket weaving" classes won't give our children the educations they need, and the educated citizens we all need to be able to chant honestly that "We are Number 1!" in the future. This land is our land, yes; but the educational landscape is leaving too many cracks for our children to fall through, and as you have said, too many of those drop outs are landing in prisons where they symbolize the waste of this most precious of natural resources.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

cynthtggt: If we each had to go by what our profile photos seem to say about us, most of us would decline to post one. (I post different ones quite often!) Some movie stars insist that profile shots be of their "best side"---or at least they did "in the old days." Your Hub gems are gems, and written so well that we can all learn from them. Something must have happened between your parents' battles, your grunge days, and your partying, which turned out such a fine writer! To me, there is both a sweetness and an innocence in the profile photo you are using now which does not display the righteous anger and frustrations you sometimes write about so well. There's no need to change it though, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

Perspycacious - You too have a great way of expressing your frustrations. Thank you for your compliments.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

cynthtggt: Well deserved, well deserved.


cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

Which do you mean, your frustration, or my compliments? I will never let this go because there is something underneath, and I felt it and have not been convinced it is gone.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

cynthtggt: My compliments to you are well deserved. I meant it when I commented that "Your Hub gems are gems, and written so well that we can all learn from them." I am frustrated over an election and a world stumbling along looking for the sinkhole it doesn't believe is ahead. I find your intellect shining and your person what I believe to be as rebellious as I would originally have thought mine to be conventional. I do not picture a bright new world ahead, and I wish I had your abilities to picture what I see as well as you do what you see and feel.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

This is so well written. Motivation by both student and teacher is so important and I believe it begins right when the student begins at school. That first year is so important and can set the student with an enquiring mind on a happy path right through school. This puts a great responsibility on the early teachers to develop enthusiasm for learning and confidence right from the beginning. Thank you for your hub.


cynthtggt profile image

cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

I believe the same as you but I cannot go along without saying it anyway. I am sorry to always say the same things. But there are truly many things that the truth must be said. I miswrote what I meant. Thank you.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

BlossomSB: I heartily agree with what you wrote in your comment. My wife was tutored at home in another language, and starting at age 3. She now speaks eight languages. A big mistake was made at the very start of my schooling. I went off to my first day of schooling at age five with a love for learning, even practicing my spelling on the way. I ended up in a kindergarten of that long ago day, where the theme was having fun and socializing! I should better have gone to first grade instead, where the task at hand would have been the learning I had been prepared to do. The "home schooling" I had been having, could have continued for a year, and in all likelihood I could have started my formal schooling in the second grade, instead of wasting the kindergarten year entertaining my curiosity by secretly turning on the fishpool fountain to see how high it could go when the teacher was out of the room (using the key I had seen her hide under a loose tile.) She realized her secret had been known, when she returned from her short absence to find water dripping from the ceiling (meaning that I never did find out how high it could have gone, had the ceiling not been in the way!)


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

cynthtggt: Now there is a new book titled "Swerve" which goes back to a poet named Lucretius of some 1,000 years ago (+ or -) for his speculation that we are dust and return to dust. Whereas had his book been lost we could somehow cling to the belief some of us share that "Dust thou art to dust returneth was not spoken of the soul." Something old, even if powerfully written, does not make it more valid by virtue simply of its age. I for one like what would perhaps then have been considered "the road less traveled"; the road which has brought us to where we are, and which could have been much worse, had we taken the one the resurrected philosophy of Lucretius would have suggested we content ourselves to follow...after his own 1,000 years of precedent to the contrary. He must have been of the era when Christians were being fed to the lions!


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

wow this is so true.. excellent hub

I voted up

Debbie


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Deborah Brooks: It feels as if it is Sunday night. It has been a good holiday with appropriate memorials and introspection. Now, going forward, we seek a way to wind down a war successfully and withdraw to return our men and women home. We can't just train Afghans to fight. They need the infrastructure we have of hospitals, doctors, nurses, helicpters, vehicles, and commanders who know enough tactics to know when to attack and when to withdraw to fight again another day. And, all that will require education and skills not easily learned and mastered in 2013, 2014, or even sooner. Will we leave whatever allies we have to the mercy of their foes? What have we learned from our past conflicts "on behalf of ourselves and others"? Education doesn't stop with the classroom, but good education has to start in the home and be cultivated in society. How do we finish our tasks, and fashion a safe, secure future?


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Nice Hub and important topic. Having been in the college class rooom for 18 years I can sadly report that cheating is increasing and so many students arrive with a chip on their shoulders and think they are entitled to an A . Very, very sad/


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

They also thought that when they graduated from high school the rest of life would be fun. What do you think of nationwide exams for the award of full-ride college scholarships? Would that encourage more attention to academic excellence and preparation for college-level studies as it does in China and Japan?

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