Study Technology: Effective Learning and Education
The future of our planet will one day rest in the hands of our children. How well equipped will they be to carry society forward? Perhaps the surest gauge is the success with which we are educating them for that role. Sadly, from all indications, this responsibility has not been met. At a time when quality education is more important than during any period in history, our schools are failing at an alarming rate.
Typical of the educational problems faced by most Western countries is the tragedy of the United States student. America once had one of the finest educational systems in the world, yet for nearly three decades that system continues to face a formidable crisis.
Over 25 percent of all students leaving or graduating high school lack the reading and writing skills required by the minimum demands of daily living.
The American high-school dropout rate hovers at around 30 percent to 50 percent in inner-city areas.
According to the president of one teachers’ association, up to 50 percent of all new teachers quit the profession within the first five years.
SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores of American students have sunk to levels considerably lower than those achieved by students in the mid-1960s.
The news media regularly report on the continuing decline of standardized test scores, on overcrowding in classrooms, on public disenchantment about pouring more tax dollars into what they perceive to be an increasingly poor investment, and growing teacher disillusionment.
It is indeed a grim picture but is no better in most other parts of the world.
A British survey sponsored by The Sunday Times of London, for instance, found 42 percent of those surveyed were unable to add the menu prices of a hamburger, French fries, apple pie and coffee. One out of six British inhabitants could not correctly locate Great Britain on a world map.
From both official and media reports, the pattern of educational decline is evident in almost every Western country – places where excellence in public education was once taken for granted.
These dismal figures translate into an equally depressing economic scene. Internationally, the cost to business in lowered or wasted productivity, unemployment and crime is estimated at $300 billion annually. Businesses are forced to develop their own remedial programs to teach employees the basic reading, writing and computational skills necessary to function on the job.
There seems to be no shortage of ideas and theories on how to accomplish educational reforms. But these programs tend to create as many problems as they solve.
For example, after the crisis in education became headline news, America instituted "get tough" retention policies and added graduation requirements, on the assumption that a greater challenge for students would improve performance. The opposite occurred. The policies raised rather than lowered the dropout rate in some cities. The president of the American Federation of Teachers argued, "It’s ridiculous to raise the hurdle for kids who are unable to jump in the first place."
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