There is something seriously wrong with the US education system. If you are an American and you don’t agree, than you are simply impervious to the standard that most non-developing countries put into their education. And when I say education system, I mean kindergarten through 12th grade, where we consistently rank about 17th in the world. 17th! Besides health care, America doesn’t rank so low in anything! We claim to be the best, or strive to be, yet are perfectly ok with sub-standard education? I don’t think that’s the case, I think it’s more a case of ignorance than indifference.
There really is a link between traveling and education systems, I promise. For me, being in a unique position to be able to learn about other country’s systems and cultures has huge beneficial factors, which can only be
experienced by traveling. Now that I have traveled a fair bit, my own ignorance has turned into more of an understanding. Back home I/we assume we are the best at everything. Now I’ve exposed myself to reality and my eyes have been opened. Travel is the only way to change ones own ignorance about the rest of the world, or in this case, better systems.
I have made many friends from around the world, and as I learn their ways, it makes me angry that we Americans can fall so far behind, in something so important. But, I suppose if you want to change something, you have to understand it first- Know thy enemy, and all that.
First of all, why is it that the US ranks so high when it comes to Universities (13 of the top 20 are American), yet so low in the education years of what I would say are even more important? Well the big difference is how they are run. A University is run as a business, as it is. It has to have a quality product (the education and educators), and needs to compete for your business. In order for a business to successfully compete for your business, they have to be better than the competition in every way. They get reviews, recommendations and eventually prestige. Their business is education. Same goes for private school for the younger years.
On the other hand, the government-run, K-12 education is run much different. More like a factory line in fact. Kids go in, kids come out. No standard for finishing, as long as you’re out. There is a teacher’s union, basically keeping the whole process from evolving or improving, as they can virtually never be fired. A shit teacher will stay in his or her cushy job forever, no matter what they do. Unlike in a University, where teachers are actual employees that have to strive to keep their jobs. So you basically have a kid factory, where a kid goes in, learns how to take some standardized tests that are graded by a machine, then kids come out non-the-wiser.
There is very low requirements, and unless you are a self-motivator, you can get through school by doing very little. We all know these people- The ones who never came to class, never paid attention when they did, and yet still graduated at the same time as everyone else.. They know very basic math and reading/writing, and have the attitude that they don’t want to learn something they’ll never use in the real world.
When I try to explain the system to my friends in say, Germany, Sweden, UK… They are baffled. And for good reason: These countries take their education seriously! in the above mentioned countries, citizens admittedly do pay much higher taxes- Don’t run away, I’ll explain the benefit. Sure they pay a much higher tax in Germany, but what do they get for it?
Well, for starters, a K-12 education at the same quality level as only one of our expensive private schools could offer, free of charge. Those schools ARE run like businesses, and the kids and parents have the freedom to choose their own school, while in the States, kids are assigned a school that is nearest to their residence, and are forced to deal with it if the school is an overly terrible one. These American schools stay alive, even when they shouldn’t, because they will get as many kids as they can handle, and get the nice fat check from the government, no matter the quality. And who can blame them really? If you were going to get paid the same, whether you worked really hard, or not at all, where’s the motivation?
This higher tax also helps cover their FREE health care and even free University studies. By the time we Americans deal with shiit primary schools, pay for expensive health insurance, and then pay tons of money for higher education, we probably end up paying more than they did with their higher taxes. The new U.S. health care reform tax credit doesn’t help much at all anyways since it is in it’s beginning stages. (I mean common! Imagine having private school education, free health care, and then going to university for free!)
It is one thing to complain about it, and another to think of solutions. My first would be to do away with assigned schools. The government can attach vouchers to each student, to be paid to the school that they and their parents choose to attend. They would of course do their research and enroll in the best school they could. The schools, knowing that their livelihood depends on their quality of education, would start changing over-night! Teachers and schools alike would start being ranked, reviewed and criticized.
The parents would choose the best ranked, and the schools would ensure they were the one. Everybody wins here, except the shiit teachers out there who are more concerned with job security than making a difference. When a kid isn’t forced to go to your shitty school, they wont.
Next to go would be standardized testing. Not every kid is created equal, and they all need individual guidance. Have you ever seen reviews for a nice private school? They reiterate the teacher to student ratio being quite equal. They express the importance for one on one guidance and tutoring for those in need. I seen some where the teachers even gave out their phone numbers and emails to students, so they could help their students with homework at all hours.
Can you see the benefits, or is it my imagination. I remember times when I didn’t get my homework assignments, and if I couldn’t get help, I would be forced to just turn in what I had the next day for the machine to grade what I got. If I figured it out, I passed. If I didn’t , I failed. simple as that. At the end of the semester, if i had passed more assignments than I failed, I got to move on… Didn’t matter what I missed. The alternative could have been having a teacher I could ring up and have help me for a while, saving that assignment and actually learning something. If your kid’s teacher is not doing this, you may want to find local tutors to ensure that your child is not falling victim to the follies of America’s education system.
I could go on and on about things that are wrong with out education system. For example, getting a bachelor’s degree in the US takes 4 years, while the same degree in Europe take only 3 years. The reason for this? For out first year we are catching up in our lack of higher math, science, reading etc, that we missed out on in high school, where in Europe, this level of learning was already covered in high school. (in the same amount of years I might add). in fact, they don’t even call it high school, they call it college. That should tell us a lot right there.
So again, what does this article have to do with travel? First of all, I’d like to point out that if it wasn’t for me being able to travel the world and see new things, I would have never learned any of this, and knowledge really IS power. It is obvious to me that travel is so beneficial in so many ways. It is its own education system. It has educated me, broadened my horizons, and ultimately raised my standard for living. That, my friends, is priceless.
Here are some relevant resources from this article: