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Tessie Spoon

The American Educational System

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So, I've heard the American public schooling system ragged on a lot for its poor quality (particularly in math), even having seen some articles that try to explain how and why it's flawed (links at the bottom of this post). Though what's always left me confused is why students from, say, Finland (which ranks way higher than the US worldwide on education) would study abroad in America. Besides interest in our culture.

I'm no fan of the public school system, myself, but this always left me scratching my head.

Links:

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/why-americans-stink-at-math/

http://www.districtadministration.com/article/united-states-receives-average-rankings-pisa

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/opinion/how-to-fix-our-math-education.html?_r=0

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Well, there are some states that are better for education than others. Minnesota as a singular state ranks pretty high in education. I'm sure there are also some colleges around the country with strong reputations that attract foreign students. I'm not an expert or anything though, just stating some observations.

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Sometimes schools have business transactions that are the reason that they are sent over. The school is paid from other countries to teach the students and prep them, and in return the students are given the skills that they need. They can funnel a ton of students to be trained without necessarily needing to fund staff or have buildings created and maintained, servers to track students and their progress(es). In the end, it's mutually beneficial to both entities. The school gets a quick boost to the amount of people attending-- which makes the school come across as more prestigious and there's also the fact that they get more people means that the school's name will be around on resumes more often, and they also get paid. The country itself gets to pay less overall by sending the students across the sea than doing what I stated above...

It also helps to build relations between other countries as well, so there can also be some political maneuvering there as well.

As for math, the reason most students can't do well is because of how horribly it is taught. They make it a rigorous system rather than actually having the students understand why the hell anything is happening in the actions they perform-- thus, you end up with students not remembering steps because they never had any real context to them or true understanding of what they were doing. It's not that they are bad, it's just never been explained in a way that made sense. My nephew was struggling with math a couple of years ago, and I was brought on the scene to give him a couple of tutoring sessions. A couple of jokes and a few explanations later, and he's bar and large the top student in his class. One might say that it was because the other students were so poorly taught, but really-- that's all it takes to be "good" at math. Understanding. Like any other subject.

It was why I was so poor with Biology in grade school-- too much rote memorization without any real explanations for why things are the way they are.

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Basically, American universities and American public schools are not the same thing. Just whatever you do, don't study at Princeton, home of the filthy Wilsonites;).

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Basically, American universities and American public schools are not the same thing. Just whatever you do, don't study at Princeton, home of the filthy Wilsonites;).

Rather there than the Vienna School of Art.

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The best of the best schools here absolutely rock. The public school system is not so lucky - between the stupid amount of testing that the schools are required to do (source: my school), and the way the standards are laid out (badly, IMO), combined with extremely wonky teacher:student ratios (over here). . .yeah.

Hawaii also decided that it would be BRILLIANT if they started the school year earlier. In the beginning of August. . .y'know, when it's stupidly hot outside. Not all of the public classrooms have air conditioning. Can't really learn if you're too busy being miserable!

Edited by eclipse

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The best of the best schools here absolutely rock. The public school system is not so lucky - between the stupid amount of testing that the schools are required to do (source: my school), and the way the standards are laid out (badly, IMO), combined with extremely wonky teacher:student ratios (over here). . .yeah.Hawaii also decided that it would be BRILLIANT if they started the school year earlier. In the beginning of August. . .y'know, when it's stupidly hot outside. Not all of the public classrooms have air conditioning. Can't really learn if you're too busy being miserable!

Are you a teacher? Just curious. You seem like you'd be a decent teacher.

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Are you a teacher? Just curious. You seem like you'd be a decent teacher.

I'm nowhere near patient enough to be one! I work at a school, so I'm somewhat familiar with things like standards/testing, and the air conditioning thing made headlines during last summer's insane heat wave (the Department of Education had to scramble to get cooling systems to some of the schools).

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I'm nowhere near patient enough to be one! I work at a school, so I'm somewhat familiar with things like standards/testing, and the air conditioning thing made headlines during last summer's insane heat wave (the Department of Education had to scramble to get cooling systems to some of the schools).

Yeah, I remember when I lived in America, we lost so much school days through a double whammy of Hurricane Sandy and a bunch of blizzards that the school year pushed all the way through June. Those last days were hellish, and I imagine Hawaii is far hotter than New Jersey.

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I agree with what the other people are saying the collages here are really good but the public schools are pretty bad. When I was supposed to start school the school told my parents that because I had type one diabetes I would have to be in special ed instead of regular classes, the only school that would have let me be in regular classes was a private school, so my parents ended up home schooling me instead. When I started collage I was shocked at how many of the people in my classes were taking remedial classes in all subjects.

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American schooling, from at least what I've seen of it, seems to focus a lot on fact recall and test passing rather than comprehension or being able to process information. It doesn't surprise me that there are colleges where classes don't have a firm grasp of basic arithmetic or spelling. Universities are another kettle of fish, and one I don't really know enough about to comment on properly.

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American schooling, from at least what I've seen of it, seems to focus a lot on fact recall and test passing rather than comprehension or being able to process information.

This is true of History and Science. Math is a little different since a lot if not most concepts in math require understanding of previous concepts, and English is all about comprehension. I will complain about how when you get to high school, grammar becomes a non-issue and you never really review it again. That became a problem for me when the SAT rolled around and I realized I didn't really remember how semicolons worked.

I think schools should focus a little more on comprehension and practical use, since school is supposed to educate and prepare you for the real world. If you're taking a business class, maybe run a class business or chart out a theoretical one. If you're in history, maybe you have to write a paper on a certain event and draw parallels from it to others. If you're in biology, maybe the class takes care of some plants. I'm just spitballing here, but I think that could be the general direction we might want to go in.

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The American schooling system and those that seem to take that model are more concerned with competition between students than the co-operative and critical thinking style that Finland (considered one of the top countries in terms of education) and other countries use.

Then again, South Korea is also known as one of the other top countries in terms of education and they have a very rigorous memorization system that does the same as the US.

Edited by Tryhard

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Based on my mom growing up, Pakistan and parts of Asia aren't so different in that regard.

I felt like my high school experience went from "memorization" to "learning" when I moved high schools, so I've seen the best of both worlds in American education (both were public schools). My college experience was quite a lot different and a lot better and I'm happy to have been apart of this scholarship program.

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The American schooling system and those that seem to take that model are more concerned with competition between students than the co-operative and critical thinking style that Finland (considered one of the top countries in terms of education) and other countries use.

Then again, South Korea is also known as one of the other top countries in terms of education and they have a very rigorous memorization system that does the same as the US.

SK's "education" is bullshit. There is an entir eKorean expat community here in Prague who live here to avoid putting their kids through that shit. South Korea's teen suicide rate is one of the highest in the First World precisely because their education system is outright abusive.

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I didn't say it was good for the kids, it's an oppressive way of making them work harder.

Edited by Tryhard

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The American Education System is indeed garbage. Unless you take Honors or Advanced Placement Courses, classes there are just you getting babysat. Teachers are paid squat.

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i think it's hilarious that education is even a point of contention in this country. k-12 is taught, generally, so poorly and the culture of education is so lacking in this country that most people don't know anything coming out of high school.

we have many of the best public universities in the world, though. that's why people come here to learn. (we have much of the best higher education opportunities in this country, actually.)

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i think it's hilarious that education is even a point of contention in this country. k-12 is taught, generally, so poorly and the culture of education is so lacking in this country that most people don't know anything coming out of high school.

we have many of the best public universities in the world, though. that's why people come here to learn. (we have much of the best higher education opportunities in this country, actually.)

Yeah, American schools are some of the best for college. It's pretty crazy, so what ends up happening is that people cruise through the lower tier of school, and then hit a huge wall when they get to college. They have to actually try and it's there that people realize either how poor their study habits are or how woefully under prepared they were because of the way schools are.

The social system needs to be prepared to actually build a system that works for everyone. And tests are just a terrible way of ensuring that students know things. There's always a degree of luck that happens with tests that makes them pretty pointless. There's also the fact that teachers will sometimes "cheat" and put questions on there that have no business being on there for the sole purpose of tricking a student rather than simply demonstrating comprehension. Oh, and of course, the wonderful true/false questions where the teachers don't understand logic and have the statements displayed as "false" and they'll mark them true because they have no idea how to properly form a functional statement.

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YOu are also talking about the PUBLIC school system. Private schools are often quite excellent enough that people want to go to them from overseas. THer's this situation where the schools are so bad in many places, so anyone who can afford it in those places sends thier kids to private schoools. It heavily varies by school districts as well. One of the first things that parents look up when thinking of moving is how good the local school district is, which often varies between the city and suburbs of the same metro area.

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I've not much so say, other than that I like how well-thought several of the responses are.

FWIW, the college I'm going to isn't too different from typical public K-12 in this country; everything is still more about memorizing facts than actually learning why it's all useful. Even the programming classes that I went there for were very lackluster. The only real difference is that there are some labs and tutors that make things slightly more bearable. Though it's probably because my college is a public one, despite charging really high tuition fees.

Since I actually want to become a competent game programmer, I'm aiming to study abroad in one of the world's top 5 countries after getting my game design degree (though I'm certainly not going to suffer through a system like SK's).

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The majority of public schools here are a depressing bureaucratic mess. A lot of them are underfunded, staffed with teachers and teacher's aides that are horribly underpaid and treated like replaceable garbage by the higher ups, the parents, and even the students from time to time. Forced to teach a curriculum they didn't choose and don't believe in. All in the hopes that the majority will do well enough on meaningless tests so they can keep their accreditation and little bit of funding they do have, to help pay the people who don't do any of the hard work and maybe stock the classrooms of the gifted children with useful tools in the thought that maybe it'll be worth investing in the minds of kids who have already "proven" themselves rather than bothering with your average student.

It's crap.

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