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Educating Students for Success in a "Changing" World

Updated on March 22, 2012

Educating Students for Success in a "Changing" World

“Educating students for success in a changing world.” This was the motto in which my school district was founded upon, but, over the years, the emphasis towards it has faded away. Nowadays, this motto has turned into the simple saying that graces every high school award and plague I own. Looking back, I can see this saying in a more modern light. If every school in American realized the world is changing, then major changes would be under-way in education systems. This whole idea of “educating for the future” may seem cliche, but maybe American school districts should take a step back and focus on this basic principle. When looking at the problems that lie within school systems of America, three come to my mind: standardized testing, the “coaching” problem, and the idea of creating “well rounded” students.”

“Standardized” Testing?
One of the main problems I see surrounding American school systems is the nemesis, that is standardized testing. In my opinion, and through experience, this form of testing causes a “hate-hate” relationship. Teachers hate to teach it, and students hate to take it. Now, I am all for the idea of testing a student’s knowledge in certain subjects, but not in a standardized way. Each student needs to be tested on their own level, and in a very thorough way. Final course evaluations are vital in a student’s understanding of a subject, and should have much focus shifted on them, instead of standardized testing. Evaluations particular to a certain course, also do not inhibit a teacher’s teaching in the classroom. Many of America’s teachers today, like my mother for instance, are forced to teach in accordance to the TAKS test, which is the standardized test of Texas. For my mother, who has been teaching for 25+ years, this is not fair. What used to be engaging lectures on stimulating subjects, now become standardized recitations from a TAKS-objective notebook. This isn’t fair for the students, much less the teachers. They are having to watch these kids become literally bored with school, instead of simply enjoying it. To improve the quality of education, we must improve this idea of “standardized” testing in schools. How to do this? It would be simple to just rid the school systems of standardized tests, or have the tests specific to certain learning levels. The ideal idea, from a teacher’s perspective, this according to my mom, is to create a course evaluation, made primarily by the teachers themselves. That way, their lectures are not inhibited by standardized testing. School systems need to face it, half of the students taking these standardized test do not really put any effort into them, making them a complete waste of time. Through these strategies, teachers are given more freedom in their curriculums, and students are given the fair, “unstandardized,” teaching they deserve.

Coaches in the Classroom
The second problem I see in many American school systems and education, is coaches in the classrooms. Through experience, this hasn’t provided me with the best education. Now, I am a sports fanatic, and enjoyed all my high school coaches, except in the classroom. Unlike other full-time teachers, they always had their minds on the next play of the game, instead of lectures. At my local school district, very important AP and honors courses were taught by coaching staff. Now, some could teach, and others couldn’t, but in regards to these critical subjects, they all need to teach well. Schools, seen visibly in Texas, revolve around sports, making a nice job pool for coaches; however, schools need to refocus their attention on obtaining the best teachers possible for each subject, and not simply aimlessly filling those spots with coaches. My strategy that I would implement to solve this problem would be having schools test out their coaches in the classroom. This will give school districts an idea as to how well classroom management, and lecturing are for each coach. If the coach does an outstanding job, let him have both the coaching and teaching job. If school systems implemented this in-class simulation for coaches, students could be insured the most high-quality education possible.

Creating the “Well-Rounded” Student
The final problem in American school systems, is the whole idea of striving to create “well-rounded” individuals for the changing world in which we live. Now, how is this really achieved? Honestly, I do not think half of the schools districts in America could answer this question. Giving kids the opportunity to participate in academics, the arts, and athletics, brings about the answer. In many districts, there is a constant battle betweens sports and fine arts. Recently, a local school district in the Houston area cut its band, choir, and theatre programs all together. The district simply stated, “budget cuts,” as their reason. What America doesn’t realize is how big of a problem this is actually becoming. The previous example was just an extreme case of how bad it can get. This all stems back to bad budgeting. Cutting these fine arts opportunities for students, cuts the whole idea of creating a well-rounded individual. Every student is aware of the fact some organizations receive more funds than others, and many students do see that many are given unfair cuts in the budget. Success makes organizations stand out from one another, but how can a group have much success without a substantial budget to operate on? My strategy with this problem is to tackle it from the base, budgeting. Districts should, if striving to create well-rounded students, wipe their budget distribution clean, and redivide the budget with the consolation of teachers and organization sponsors. By diving the budget in a more fair manner, each organization is getting a fair view from students. Through this, students are receiving the opportunity to broaden their educational horizons, through many different organizations, which improves their education as a whole.

The main refuting argument that arises from my problem strategies, lies within the idea of “well-rounded” students. Some districts would argue that “specialization” is the way to go with education. I agree that specializing students for a certain field is very beneficial, but let’s face it, we have yet to try to shift American school systems in that direction. Upon recently graduating from one, I can tell you that there will be no specialization going on there for a long time. Specialization in schools is something that has been hoped for for years, and has still yet to come to fruition . 95% of American schools still operate on the idea of creating “well-rounded” students for success in the world we live in today.

“Educating students for success in a changing world.” This whole idea now seems less far-fetched. Society is alway changing, and we as people cannot stop it. We must adapt to its changes, and if students are presented with more “adaptive” educations, society will change for the better. Through the three basic problems I have addressed, with the strategies attached, America should be able to see where the problems lie within its school systems, and where they need to improve upon. If I was to be in charge of American schooling operations, these problems are where I would start my changes. This motto has stood the test of time, if only school districts actively operate by it. The world is changing, now it is time the quality of education change along with it.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      You have lots of very interesting and provoking ideas about what is wrong and how we can change education. We need to be listening to students!