On Obama's speach on education (belated)

Reflection on President Obama's Speech to Students


A teacher driven education system seems to be the focus of our nations President. I find that in the first part of the speech Obama focuses too much on talking bout the teachers and the schools, and not enough on the practicalities of the different programs offered at different schools.
Another thing is that he mentions arts before sciences, enforcing the naive notion that our national economy can comes mostly from its arts. Further more, he fails to mention mathematics until after about a minute in to his speech, another vital academic subject for the economy. I believe that our government is going at the idea of education in the wrong manner; students should be the focus and the skills and knowledge that will be functional to the student. It shouldn't be that the student are competing to reach the education systems standards, the education system should be competing to reach the students standards and to teach the skills that future employers feel will be the most useful and productive over all. For example, if there is a group of students with a particular aptitude in chemistry, then their work, research, and reports should be the top of the class; whether it falls under the curriculum or not; special projects should get the top priority and grade. On top of all of that, all the other students' grades should be based on the top, most talented or advanced work, to make their school work as competitive as sports: only the best become the top of their respective field, not the ones who can fill out the most paper, and they need to start early.


Another thing is that school isn't a very attractive place for many people socially, adults and children alike, they spend their time listening to a lecturer they are told is a professional in the given field, and knows what they are talking about. The students are told that by merely listening to and reading the works of these professionals they will absorb all of the information they will ever need to do a specific job or task. Well, in theory this may appear to be a viable way of teaching: an organized manner in which information is distributed and studied, then the works of the scholars is graded by their superiors. The problems are that, first of all, many of the teachers don't actively practice or participate in the subject they teach. Secondly, students have a hard time using the information bestowed upon them by their teachers because they lack any kind of tactical experience in the subject; one must always ask this of their curriculum, when and where will the students use this and why. I believe that if a teacher is to teach English the said teacher should have some kind of published works i.e., write a column for a local newspaper or magazine; have and run a successful blog or web site; write technical manuals or other works. Same goes for music and drama or other arts teachers; this is so the teachers are using real-world ideas and processes to drive their work.


I do agree with Obama that students are responsible for their own lives and schooling, and should strive for the best that they can do in every class, but I also think that they should be encouraged to "...think outside the box..." and try things that haven't been tried before, under the watchful and hopefully knowledgeable eyes of their instructors. School should be a place where everyone’s’ mind is challenged, including teachers, and stretched to fit new ideas; not a place where students are told to memorize a mass of knowledge, that is what computers are for. Schools should be a place of asking questions and discovering new answers, not memorizing old answers. An idea never changes or progresses unless it is challenged. Also, the tools for their further learning should always be present for students; a network of cooperative teachers from all over the country with different specialties of knowledge and experience should not be something dedicated to only colleges and institutions of higher learning, a teacher exchange program of sorts. Awards are not the result of studious students, results are: there are many examples of people who dropped out of traditional schools and enrolled in their own style or subject of learning and became vastly. For example Michel Nash, Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, Johan Sebastian Bach and Nicola Tesla; all highly successful in their fields, and yet the all ether failed in traditional school or rebuked it all together. Just because a student isn't academically successful, or a good student doesn't mean that they are not learning.





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