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jsammons's avatar

What do you think the future of U.S. education is?

Asked by jsammons (1083 points ) October 30th, 2012

It’s no small secret that U.S. is falling behind in education compared to the rest of the world. Many today are too absorbed in reality t.v. shows, celeberties, and social media to look around at their country and the path that it’s going down.

Most people don’t have the critical thinking skills to question what they’re told, it’s easier to just do it. With all of that being said, where do you think the U.S. is headed as far as education?

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17 Answers

ETpro's avatar

Great question and one I wish I had a reliable crystal ball to answer. If my crystal ball warned me that the US would stay the course to educational failure, I’d start planning where else on Earth I’d like to live out my remaining years. Right now it’s a political football neither Party seems willing to advance in any meaningful way.

jsammons's avatar

I definately think that there will have to be a major change to our current economy and government structure before we see a huge change in our educational system.

I also believe that we need to seperate any sort of religion from the schools as far as what teachers base the structure off of. I believe that studying the different religions would be fine, but it shouldn’t base the way we teach our children.

I remember reading an article somewhere about Texas buying the majority of text books for schools and then voting on what should and shouldn’t be put in for students to learn. I disagree with this practice myself as there can be a lot of bias put into the curriculum.

bookish1's avatar

Ruh Roh. I have just been grading midterms from college freshmen at a prestigious public American university, and I should probably just go to sleep instead of answering this question…

ETpro's avatar

@jsammons I totally agree. I’m a strong advocate for public education with national standards for curricula. It makes no sense to me to leave state or local boards in full authority regarding what students need to learn to have a good education. Id even hold private schools and home schoolers to national standards in math, science, language and critical thinking skills. What they choose to teach beside that would be up to them.

YARNLADY's avatar

Since we have been very lucky to find decent schools in our area, I have a positive outlook on the education system.

I partially home schooled my youngest son and my three adult grandsons, but I am very happy with the public schools my two youngest grandsons are in.

jerv's avatar

Judging by the number of people who support Romney instead of a Republican who can actually pass basic fact-checking, the quality of college-educated kids I see bagging my groceries, and some simple (to me) trend analysis, I say it is bleak at best.

At least half of America is proud of their ignorance.

bookish1's avatar

@jerv: What are you, some kind of egg head elitist??????????~

wonderingwhy's avatar

I think if you look at it over the last 50–60 years we’ve done pretty well. But if you just look at the last 20–30 we’re no where near where we should be, and if the last two administrations are any example, have no idea where we’re going.

We’ve got multiple problems none of which are democratically easy to solve.

Goal – what is it? or if you take ED’s mission statement “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access” it seems pretty concerning, shouldn’t the focus of education be producing a well-rounded student capable of critical thinking and analysis? and dare I suggest, while providing the means for them to explore their interests while capably meeting and advancing societies’”.

Funding – considering we pump nearly a trillion dollars into the system as it is, I’m not sure it’s necessary to add more right away. Better to make sure we have a clear strategy and process for best distributing the money first. Then we can consider adding as needed.

Curriculum – what is the curriculum? why isn’t it standardized? and why isn’t critical thinking a stated base requirement? This is probably the biggest overhaul next to how we handle students.

Textbooks – Texas is a good example of what’s wrong here (a national curriculum goes a long way in fixing this), fix that first then we can get to the other issues like accessibility, updates, platform (that’s a big one because it has potential to change a lot in teachers, structure, and methods).

Teachers – everything from compensation, distribution, and requirements, to quality, oversight, and unions; it all needs more than just hot air and token adjustments but thorough review, updating, and planning to predictability.

Facilities – the amount of damaged, ill-maintained, and overcrowded schools is staggering as is the cost of improvements and the contentiousness of funding for them. Beyond that, how we use facilities and the purpose of the classroom.

Assessment – everything from curriculum to teachers to administrators to students and even facilities need reevaluated, linked, and self correcting assessment standards; but it’s long past time to recognize that testing is only a component and a small one at that.

Students – they are the focus of everything and the effort has to tangibly go beyond the school system. Further, they have to understand and actively choose to participate in the system.

I believe education is critical to democracy and sustainable progress. I don’t hear a lot of people (from people on the street to politicians) talk about these things other than to complain or stump. This isn’t a crisis and it certainly doesn’t need to be one but it doesn’t seem we’re serious about addressing it until it becomes such.

So to answer your question, I don’t know what the future of education is but I know what I think it should be and I don’t believe the future we’re headed towards is bright, at least not as bright as it could or ought be. Though there are a couple voices that still give me hope.

phaedryx's avatar

You mention that we’re too absorbed with social media, video games, TV shows, etc. The problem is that they are so interesting. For example, millions of dollars are spent to make games more compelling/addictive. In the mean time, education is downright boring in comparison. I think the future of education is gamification. That is, education will have to become more interesting to compete.

I think we’ll see more flip teaching. Students will watch lectures online and do homework/projects in class.

I think we’re seeing a huge revolution in higher education. The internet makes all information virtually free, but we’re seeing higher and higher tuition each year. The costs of attending college are growing much faster than inflation or average US wages. At the same time the elite institutions are offering high-quality education for free online to hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t think the mediocre universities will be able to compete.

The rising costs of textbooks is ridiculous. I think we’ll see more open textbooks in the future and the publishing industry is about to get shaken up the same way the music industry was.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

wut? r u kidin? and america aint a democracy its a repblic

wundayatta's avatar

This is an extremely complicated question, and there are education colleges at many universities all over the country who are researching the issues involved.

Some random observations (in no particular order):

1) Educational attainment is most close linked to father’s educational attainment. That’s kind of a kicker. You’d think it would be the most educated parent, but for whatever reason, mother’s educational attainment does not correlate as well with child’s educational attainment.

Does this mean that the way to improve our education system is to educate men? If so, we are in trouble because we are going backwards on that score. Women form the majority of the population at all advanced levels of schooling. Men are retreating, education wise.

2) Education is not evenly distributed. A portion of the population has a lot of it, and a portion has much less. Those people who get a lot of it, those whose fathers are well educated, or those who come from families with money, are doing very well on tests. Probably better than most of the rest of the world.

3) Education is distributed by income and race. If you are poor or black, you probably have less of it.

If you live in a world where you are discriminated against, you might start to wonder why you should try, since you might believe getting an education won’t help you get past the discrimination. Or you might not have a father around and it’s harder for a woman to raise kids alone. Or you might be so poor that there’s not enough food and you can’t concentrate on your studies. Or you might have no one to help you.

4) There are hundreds of things researchers look at: how many people participate in STEM (science and math education); the impact of teachers; the impact of schools; the impact of access to technology; and on and on and on.

I think the education issue is related to much larger issues like poverty and employment and culture and housing and so on. We have to resist the temptation to focus on just education, and look at all the factors that are related, and work on all of them together.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Look at those who actually discriminate against the educated though, hearing that they are too smart to be a good worker, content with the job. I’ve lost a few job opportunities that way, so I know that stuff happens. The best way to increase the number of grunt workers is to lower education. It also helps prevent civil unrest; the ignorant don’t realize how they are getting screwed.

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv Is that a conspiracy theory? :-)

jsammons's avatar

@wundayatta I have never heard about a fathers educational attainment affecting the education attainment of their children, this is quite interesting and I’ll have to look into it. My father didn’t make it further than middle school and I lost him when I was 14. My mother got her G.E.D. but I wonder if, with my father passing, her attainment had any influence. My older sister and I are the first to make it to college in our family.

@jerv I agree with you there my friend, keep ‘em dumb and working, not asking questions. Let them vote so they think that they have a say so in “their” government. Unfortunatley that’s the system that we live in, but that’s just my opinion.

wundayatta's avatar

@jsammons Remember, this stuff is correlation. So there may not be a causal link. Also, there will be variation. You can’t look at any one individual case. You have to look at thousands of cases. That’s where this stuff comes from. National education data sets from the NCES.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It is becoming increasingly obvious that purpose of the American educational system, like their British counterpart, is to pump out somnolent, unquestioning workers unaware of their rights and incapable of critical thinking who will complacently toil for low wages to feed the corporate maw and become the permanent working poor. Perfect wage slaves.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@jsammonsI remember reading an article somewhere about Texas buying the majority of text books for schools and then voting on what should and shouldn’t be put in for students to learn.

I remember reading that, too — a lot of their concern was science vs creationism, they wanted texts less in conflict with their biblical beliefs — and my reaction was why don’t they just save themselves a helluva lot of money and get all their textbooks from the Gideon Society. They’ll give ‘em the books for free, for chrissakes.

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