The ABC's of Education

May 20, 2008
By Claire Morgan, Valdosta, GA

A student’s perspective of the educational system begins far before the discovery of “page forty-seven, critical thinking” in an elementary school book. Young children absorb their perspectives of the entire system on a small scale with their first years in the classroom. The child who finds success and encouragement early in life eagerly pursues the vast unknown while the child who faces failure rolls down the slope of discouragement. Social and racial barriers have leaked into a system of equal opportunity through free education by the misguided perceptions that form in the minds of America’s children. Therefore, providing an equal mindset on education is the only way to help every child reach his or her full potential.
The value of a student should not be measured by a single end-of-course test consisting of meticulous questions. The method discourages students who, after a quick analysis that they will not need to know the date President Millard Fillmore came into office or how to take the anti-derivative of cosine, simply give up rather than risk a waste of effort on excruciating minutiae. Students fail to realize the context of education in U.S. history or calculus when discouraged by endless assignments of repetition. The early years of education need to engrain a personal drive in every student to ensure success.
One solution to this problem is the International Baccalaureate Program, which introduces a standard and universal system of education. Not only does the system provide educational connections with the rest of the world, the tests allow each student to capitalize on strong points and display true understanding through written response on exams and eliminate the possible disadvantage of having only one teacher review an assignment. With the encouragement of an environment of highly motivated students studying challenging and interesting classes, any child will want to succeed, if through nothing else than peer pressure.
But you wonder, what about students who are not qualified to take such challenging courses? The solution is to eliminate the class of unmotivated, apathetic students. Why do students lack drive to learn? With many, failure causes complete loss of interest. Children will naturally enjoy activities at which they excel, so they should be allowed to pursue those activities. A student who has strengths in sight will not become as discouraged from occasional failure. A new attitude on education is necessary.
Education is viewed as a privilege and a responsibility worldwide. Why? Education is not just handed to children of other countries on a silver platter or forced upon them by strict regulations. Some Americans seem to take the no-cost system as a monotonous requirement in life. Education is not viewed as a privilege on the high school level, but attempting to bring the experience of college education to younger children may help. In college, unmotivated students do not earn the privilege of a higher education. The students are simply told to leave. Teachers of younger grades need to instill the value of education among students so they can appreciate the gift of America’s tax dollars.
Reform of the entire system of education is absolutely necessary. Too many schools today are managed by professionals that lack the classroom experience, which inhibits effective communication and sympathy with teacher complaints of lack of time and students who do not strive to learn. Former teachers in administrative positions may strengthen the teacher-system relationship by promoting communication.
Although new regulations claim to standardize teaching abilities to offer equal educational opportunities for every student, instead teachers are punished by the inability of unmotivated students to succeed through constant monitoring and mandatory reports to the government. Many teachers resort to “teaching the test” to ensure student success because of strict education regulations and fear of losing the job. Education must be individualized, while at the same time compatible among America’s youth. New regulations force teachers to concentrate so much on problem students that above average students often coast through school with little effort. Current policies may help the lower half of America’s children, but we should remember the other half. All students have the potential to be challenged. The question is whether they can recognize their strength.
The most important domestic issue is providing affordable, high quality education for the children of America. Too often children are hindered from birth from a lack of opportunity based upon the socioeconomic status of their parents. The roadblock to a better tomorrow lies in the mismanagement of our country’s children. Equal opportunity among the social classes allows each child a chance to reach his or her potential to create a more educated society. Children are the future of America. All children are the future of America. Each child must reach his or her potential to keep up with a fast-paced world. One child will rival Albert Einstein in mathematical genius. One child will decode an ancient language. One child will forever cure cancer. One child will reform the education system. One child will become the president of the United States.

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