Education.com
Try
Brainzy
Try
Plus
LouiseSattler
LouiseSattler , Child Professional asks:
Q:

How would YOU help to change our national educational system?

The educational system within the United States has been spotlighted in a new movie - WAITING FOR SUPERMAN.  It is a very powerful and moving documentary that asks the questions- What can we do to help change the educational system in the United States which appears to be failing so many students?

I am interested in learning what our Education.com readers think about our current educational system AND what constructive and perhaps innovative suggestions readers have to HELP our students to learn and be successful?

Please note, that I am about positive comments and not here to bash any aspects of the movie itself or to promote the movie.  Just to use it as a catalyst for discussion, much in the same vain as the recent OPRAH show.

Thank you.
In Topics: School and Academics, National education standards and No Child Left Behind
> 60 days ago

|

Expert

Houli
Oct 12, 2010
Subscribe to Expert

What the Expert Says:

Great question!  The real issue about improving the school system is that it depends on the local school and school system.  Some schools are great while others need lots of work.  I believe that "as the principal goes, so goes the school".  Schools with strong principals usually tend to be highly successful while schools with less than stellar leaadership often have major issues.

At the national level, the recent "Race to the Top" competition between states provides significant funding (up to $400m in the average state) to support major state reforms of those selected.  Check your state's website to see if your state was selected.

All too often we expect major change without the resources to be successful.  With a little help, and the right leaders, we can improve our schools significantly.

Thanks for your insightful question.

Did you find this answer useful?
2
yes
0
no

Additional Answers (8)

greenprof2
greenprof2 writes:
There is a story about a dog who thinks he sees a possum in a tree. The problem is that the possum is actually in a different tree so the dog barks up the wrong tree. That is the history of the top-down educational reform we've experienced in the U.S. since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed in 2001. Standards-based education reform is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. Such a policy employs corporate techniques and rationalities, focusing on quantitative assessment, choice, markets, and privatization. In my experience as a teacher and researcher, this program has failed and has demoralized many outstanding teachers. One indicator of this failure is that SAT and ACT scores have remained flat. Even historian Diane Ravitch, earlier a big supporter of this approach, has had a change of heart and realizes we are barking up the wrong tree.

And what is the right tree? First, I believe that we need to look at the bigger picture. Much of the failure of students in our schools is due to factors in the wider society beyond the reach of teachers - the main factor being poverty. Many children live on the edge: we need to address poverty.

Second, I believe that we should put our energies into assuring that our teachers are well-educated and provided teaching work-loads and environments where they can act as professionals and succeed. We need to understand that teaching is an intellectual, cultural, and contextual activity demanding skillful decisions about communicating the subject matter. I support an approach called 'holistic teaching' in which teachers consciously attempt to (a) promote student learning and growth on levels beyond the cognitive, (b) incorporate diverse methods that engage students in personal exploration and help them connect course material to their own lives, and (c) help students clarify their own values and sense of responsibility to others and to society.

Ten years ago 'Rethinking Schools' published "A vision of school reform" (Summer, 2000) listing 8 principles for school reform. From the results we've had with NCLB, I think we need to revisit this list, and also revisit the work of John Dewey of a century ago. Here's the list of principles:

1. Public schools are responsible to the community, not to the marketplace.
2. Schools must be actively multicultural and anti-racist, promoting social justice for all.
3. The curriculum must be geared toward learning for life and the needs of a multicultural democracy.
4. All schools and all children must receive adequate resources.
5. Reform must center on the classroom and the needs of children.
6. Good teachers are essential to good schools.
7. Reform must involve collaboration among educators, parents, and the community.
8. We must revitalize our urban communities, not just our schools.

Michael Bentley, Expert Panelist

Did you find this answer useful?
4
yes
0
no
BOO_DOTTIE
BOO_DOTTIE writes:
I think alot of people forget to let are kids be kids.  I believe that it is very important for them to learn who they are and have more common sense.  Also alot of kids that are called the bullies and the bad kids, don't get the push they need from home.  Mabe for education we need to let are kids know more what it is used for and what they can be because of it (educational speakers) instead of pushing more and more on them so that when they don't know something they just get made fun of or feel stupid and give up.  Everyone has something great about them.  We need to help our children find out what that is for them, not what everyone else expects of them.  I do believe in good education, my kids do great in school.  I just try not to forget about the little things that make them into good people not a "I can be better than you" person.
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
1
yes
0
no
Gregory1973
Gregory1973 writes:
Politics need to be removed from the school institution.  Currently the liberal ideology is rampant into the school system in my own experience this has closed the door to true educational reform.  The science of education has advanced tremendously in the last ten years in the private sector but the public sector in blind to these methods which promote teaching students the how's and whys for learning instead of cramming fact into each student.  It is not the schools responsibility to instill social values as focused today.  The shift needs to be subtle. Education should be on cause and effect. Students need to come up with their own opinions promoting free thought and choice.  The choice of success and failure becomes a logical decision.  Students need to be treated as individuals and since they will all learn differently, each student needs to understand themselves and how they learn best.  Teachers need to understand each students individuality and promote positive reinforcement of these traits.  This confidence builder will change students.  Educators need to humble themselves and realize they do not have the correct answers now and that means asking the right questions to the right people; successful graduates.  They hold the answers since they have successfully gone through the program.  Loving back and knowing what I know now,  I realize many of the faults with our education system.  I have answers that work because I applied them.  Last, every school needs to promote the science of personal development.  I would start with introducing Napoleon Hill's, "Thing and Grow Rich".  It is the staple of understanding how your mind works.  If I was only tough these lesson in my teens rather then mid twenties  I can undoubtedly say my acclimation into  college and adulthood would have been greatly improved as was life after learning these indispensable lessons.  How do we move forward?  1). Admit we know nothing 2) open our minds 3) use what known to work outside our current system.  Any one liberated enough to ask questions can contact me directly. 631-987-8801.  Typing on an IPhone can only go so far. ; )
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
0
yes
0
no
rmknig
rmknig writes:
I've not seen the movie but I have an opinion as a parent , scientist and businesswoman with international perspective. I could write for hours but I will keep it short and even pose some questions.
Check out OECD/ Pisa studies. No one wants to discuss it but frankly north of the border our friends are doing better , what are we doing to learn from them ?
Formal state education of children starts far too late at the age of 7 and we are leaving children behind.
Teaching of science and foreign language from a young age is inadequate.
State education costs are excessive and university costs are outrageous. When I compare cost per student where I live in PA versus UK, PA costs are more than double of UK.
Education provision for disabled/ handicapped/ visually impaired children under state school age, does it exist in USA ? Is it free at point of use and paid for by taxation ? I am astonished that we are not doing a better job for our handicapped children, that alone is enough to make me want to leave America. Compared to so many other developed countries the way we educate handicapped children is woeful, we shouldn't be leaving  it until age 6 or 7 before they get to a classroom. The option should be there for children to start at 3 onwards and have quality support from birth. Students are graduating high school and can not read properly and schools/ system failing to identify learning needs. We concentrate on too many facts and not enough creativity and critical thinking. I need employees who can troubleshoot not tell me every presidents name. How are these graduates going to contribute to society and function when we are failing them. Industry and commerce are not getting the calibre of students we need and we are being forced to look overseas to find quality candidates. Is there an overall strategy to identify how many engineers etc we need year on year. Again, no one wants to talk about it but look to China who have a very clear strategy. If you have spent time working in China in recent years as I have you will understand.  If we are to remain competitive we have to do far better. America is a great country with great teachers and principals etc but we need to do far better.
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
0
yes
0
no
rmknig
rmknig writes:
In light of recent experience I would like to add the following. My child who has just turned 9 and in 3rd grade. Every week she has a timed math test of 100 additions , adding a number less than ten to another number less than ten, eg 6+7. She gets 100% every time apart from once when her teacher marker her one answer incorrect , I have the sheet in front if me. My child noted that 8+4=12 the teacher marked this wrong and put an answer of 13. Incredible. My child is extremely bored and unmotivated and sits with children who have zero attention span. When I visit my child at lunch I see parents bringing in their children's lunch of fast food. Why do schools allow this? There is no excuse, fresh healthy food is cheaper than junk food. Is it any wonder that children can not concentrate when their misguided parents feed them junk. Schools should have the power to prevent junk food coming into school. I've seen the food served in the canteen and it is good nutritious and wholesome.


I think I and others have taken the OECD/ Pisa education rankings way too literally without considering the socio/ economic backgrounds of these countries.

I would highly recommend searching google for the following videos for inspiration and deep thinking ( something we just don't do enough of).
1) www.ted.com       Sir Ken Robinson about schools and creativity
2) www.ted.com       William Kamkwamba how I harnessed the wind


If that's not enough to convince us just have a think about the following people and their incredible achievements:
Albert Einstein
Gillian Lynne ( choreographer of the longest running show in Broadway history)
Stephen Hawking

What did they have in common ? When they were young they were thought to have some difficulties in their learning or education or simoly underperforming in their schools and it took something/ someone to inspire them or set them on the right path.
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
0
yes
0
no
Sivasubramanyam1016
Sivasubrama... writes:
Educational system is very conventional and requires no change except human minds. We are in digital world, but over speeding techniques are very injurious. If head of the school is well dedicated to educate children, it will definitely impart good knowledge. How much stuff is put on student is not important, how much is taught and how much is grasped. The teacher must stimulate the mind to think and understand.
I will insist upon human learning first, think of introducing digital teaching. All advanced methods proved retardation in students learning skill. We must identify the weak area of student and teach according to his learning ability. Make sure the teacher teaches from zero level so that every student follows. Discipline and code of conduct must be maintained. The educational system will produce marvelous gems.
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
1
yes
0
no
veracious
veracious writes:
I think our biggest problem is that while legislators push for "standards" there is little recognition that how we group students to deliver those standards is completely antiquated. Within any age group there will be differences in development that are both biological and environmental. Due to these differences, the standards will only be appropriate for a percentage of any age group. My observations are that the standards are appropriate for students  that are consistently underachieving and allow for minimal growth for the rest of our students. We as a country should be setting expectations through standards within a continuous growth model not by grade levels where age is used to determine placement and expectations. Until we recognize that the current model ultimately results in minimizing growth for the majority, we will continue to fall behind other countries.
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
0
yes
0
no
atulmittal0109
atulmittal0... writes:
The movie was really inspiring relieving the present condition of the education system not only in US, but also in many other countries. I am from India, and I am part of an educational organizing trying to improve the present situation of education in India. I also work with an online education portal to improve the awareness towards online education in India.
> 60 days ago

Did you find this answer useful?
0
yes
0
no
Answer this question