The importance of education cannot be emphasized enough, as it is the driving force behind our nation’s competitiveness on the global market, and the foundation of our status as a world leader. However, alarming recent statistics conclude that the level of education in our country is rapidly declining. This is the result of repeated failures by various governments to reform our public schools, by using methods that focus on small-part fixes rather than on changing the system at the core.
The American public education system has a set of structural problems derived from the level of political involvment. In order to serve their own long term business interests, top CEOs and big corporations invest billions of dollars in our public schools, and in return they are allowed to influence the content of the education programs. In order to be successful, education reform should be free of politics, and it should be up to the experts to decide the direction of curriculum, and what methods are used to assess readiness.
Grades and test results are important tools to assess knowledge, but equally important is meaningful learning inspired by competent teachers and exposure to the arts. Millions of students enrolled in the American public schools are not receiving a complete education, mainly because students’ and teachers’ performance is reduced to numbers, such as grades and test results. In order to meet the national standards, educators are under immense pressures to produce certain results, and children are mislead in thinking that if they get high scores in english and math, they are successful products of the school system.
And so, under current reform, educators often lose sight of what’s important, and that is developing the child’s individuality by aiding them explore all aspects of themselves and the world around them. As a result, students no longer learn with pleasure, or for their own benefit and for the beauty of knowledge. Critics argue that “Children will race to the top when they discover passion and purpose from the inside, not because of extrinsic rewards like test scores, grades, or trophies” (Price-Mitchell 2). A child’s education should be molded around their pesonal qualities, interests, and aptitudes.
In order to find out how to spark a student’s interest in the academic material, and decide what methods to use in order to motivate them, a teacher must primarily know the child’s likes and dislikes. That way, the educator should be able to connect the curriculum with examples from the student’s personal life, and things that the child can relate to. At the same time, the student will also get to know themselves and their environment better. Through self exploration, the child can find their true vocation.
Self-knowledge also teaches students how to use their strenghts and how to overcome their weaknesses to improve academic performance. Therefore, in order to improve both students’ and teachers’ achievements, the public education policy should shift its focus away from high test scores, and enforce meaningful learning inspired by self-discovery. An effective school system should free teachers of the burden of restrictive polictics, and allow them to inspire meaningful learning in students, by utilizing their own personal traits, knowledge and skills.
People always search for the best quality service they can get: the best doctor, the best lawyer, or the best accountant. Quality is even more relevant when we think of someone as important as the person in charge of our children’s education, which eventually dictates their path in life. That is because in a young student’s mind, the connection between their overall school experience and their teacher’s persona is so strong, that it sets the tone for their entire educational career.
There are even instances when a child prefers the safehaven of a classroom, as opposed the grim reality of a bad neighborhood or a troubled household. That’s why a teacher should be more than just an instructor, they should become a child’s mentor, by developing a caring and compassionate relationship with each student. By connecting with kids on a personal level, a good teacher can taylor their technique in accordance to their students’ various interests and potentials.
By arousing kids’ curiosity to the curriculum, teachers can motivate students to come to scool, and do well. Critics argue that good teachers are becoming an endangered species in the American education system, mainly because of misguided school politics “driven by the arrogance of reformers who are convinced that teaching is a simple process of delivering content.
That approach is likely to increase test scores, simply by pressuring teachers to teach to the test. But … t’s also likely to interfere with teachers’ ability to lure students into learning” (). Most professionals come into this field of work eager to make a difference, but even the most enthusiastic teachers lose their motivation to excel when they are met with stumbling blocks like standardized teaching methods, teaching to the test, or peer incompetency. Teachers lose their drive to do a good job when they are not allowed to conduct lectures in the way they see fit, but instead, by having to follow a factory type model.
Educators lose respect for a system that does not respect them as capable individuals, and requires them to lose their identity and become as impersonal as production line workers. Continuing in the trend of measuring success by test results, teacher quality is also being wrongly assessed, and so our teachers are judged mainly by their students’ test scores in core subjects, even if those results don’t always reflect the students’ true level of education. Moreover, having to make up for their peers’ incompetency only adds to the general frustration.
Lazy teachers take advantage of bureaucratic measures like tenure or reassignments, which often doubles the work load for capable teachers, and causes them to surrender under the pressure. Indeed, there are teachers who are just inheretly incompetent, but in most cases, poor teachers are just victims of bad school politics themselves. That’s why a good teacher should be allowed to develop and implement their own technique, unobstructed by counterproductive education policies, in order to guide students towards academic success.
Art plays a major role in a nation’s cultural identity, and therefore, it should also be a significant part of children’s scool curriculum. A well rounded education shapes a student’s distinctive personality, and going beyond academics, it should also cultivate appreciation for visual and performing arts. Art education instills in students many qualities that cannot be otherwise be taught, like persevearance, attention to detail, leadership, and setting a high bar for personal excellence.
These attitudes are crucial to the proper development of one’s work ethic. Extensive research sheds more light onto the importance of art education in connection to improved academic performance. “In music we see a lot of connections between studying keyboards and understanding mathematical concepts. We see drama as a way to help early readers develop their comprehension skills. When they have an opportunity to act out the story, they gain a greater comprehension in reading” (Baker 260).
Art is fun. It is gratifying. Therefore, unbeknownst to them, the little learners deepen their cognitive skills just by practicing their artistic talents. Students can then use those skills to excel in other areas of the curriculum, by relating science projects to easy-to-understand examlples from the art world. Moreover, fun art programs can be utilized as motivation to bring kids to school. Teachers can improve attendance by craftly alternating fun art sessions with science lectures.
Lastly, art education in schools is neccessary for children with extraordinarry artistic abilities, but who are academically challenged. By including creative education in its structure, our school system gives artistic students the opportunity to develop their abilities, and choose a career doing something they love. Thus, due to its versatility, art training helps students not just to gain high academic achievements, but also establish their individuality as valued members of the society.
Today’s students will be tomorrow’s professionals, and as adults, they will have a major responsability to our nation’s progress and prosperity. But by then -warn analysts- they might not have the abilities to deliver the needed results, and the culprit is the current approach of our education system. Due to the recent financial crisis, school budgets have shrunk, and as a result, many teachers have been laid off, and schools have eliminated many art programs from their curriculum. Art advocates warn that children educated by the American public schools are not getting enough art education.
The design of our current curriculum completely disregards the importance of art education for students’ future, by focusing soley on literacy and numeracy. “With the emphasis on reading and math skills aimed at passing the tests, school curricula are narrowed, depriving students of valuable exposure to the arts” (Taylor 2). Economic progress is made possible through innovation, and human creativity is at the root of all innovation. A new product comes to life when its creator first envisions it, and then uses their scientific knowledge to bring it to reality.
There are countless industries that rely on both science and creativity, and amongst the most notable ones are the entertainment, fashion, and automobile industries. In fact, the perfect example of how visual art and science can be used together successfully is information technology – one of the most profitable industries in the world. Our country’s groudbreaking achievements in that technological field are one of the reasons for America’s competitiveness on the global market. This is proof that cognitive knowledge is necessary to our nation’s development, but it is not enough to drive progress.
Therefore, by developing students’ artistic abilities hand in hand with their scientific expertise, the American school system should produce well rounded individuals, capable to promote the economical growth necessary to our nation’s prosperity for generations to come. A well rounded education should come down to a student and a teacher armed with the right tools for success: the teacher’s expertise and a balanced curriculum. The direction of our education system is majorly influenced by political interests, and ruled by the misconception that one size fits all.
Yes, with the current strategies, we are producing great businessmen, but not every student is fit to be a businessman. The curriculum should be structured in a way that it can give equal opportunities to all the other students to discover what they’re good at and what they like. Otherwise they won’t be able to keep up, and would eventually drop out of school. That means America would become a nation of businessmen battling for the few jobs available in that field, and school dropouts living a life of poverty and crime.
It is a grimm outlook, but also one that seems not far away. That is why our education system is in urgent need for an intervention, especially in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, as our country is searching for a new direction. Minimizing the pressures of political involvment in America’s public schools should allow educators to perform their jobs free of pressure, to help children develop into knowledgeable and innovative citizens who will ensure our nation’s competitiveness in the 21st century.