Nowadays, many people argue that high school is not as effective as it should be and fails to create an educated person who would become successful in adult life. Hence, an educated person is commonly associated not only with the diploma of higher education, but the achievements in life. However, as the world and society changes, the way to success also gets altered.
What Does It Mean to Be an Educated Person in America?
In such a way, it is necessary to understand that the features related to a successful person are to be closely interrelated with the trends of the contemporary world. At the same time, education and high school in particular need to develop an understanding of such issues by a person. High school plays a crucial role in shaping people’s worldview and peculiar features throughout generations. Hence, it is necessary to understand the role of the school system in making children understand these trends and the role of exterior social influences and world change in providing them with the ability to adapt to changes, communicate with representatives of different cultures and perceive information critically. Therefore, the current paper argues that perception of an educated person is based on a number of features, which a public school often fails to provide. It suggests that the school curriculum should become more corresponding to the aim of developing critical thinking of people instead of making them equally limited by the social norms of the consumers’ society.
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Who Is an Educated Person?
This question is crucial for analyzing the effectiveness of the American education system because explanation of this notion will provide an understanding of the real goals of education. Hence, it will give an understanding which goals are met and which ones are neglected. An educated person has to possess a variety of competences. However, not all of them are effectively studied at school. In the modern society, each person has to possess a multicultural competence that would ensure effective communication with other people, technologies awareness, ability to adjust to a variety of situations rapidly and some other qualities. It is obvious that these competences are only partially taught at school and often are obtained not during the learning process but due to communication in the society. Instead, in order to bring up responsible, aware and educated people, schools have to consider all of the above mentioned aspects. The religious beliefs and cultural peculiarities can be discussed a lot. However, the social experience and direct communication are more effective in teaching nowadays. Hence, public schools should be oriented to providing information from various perspectives in order to let children understand the complexity and manyfacetedness of life problems. Such approach can be effective for creating qualified workforce. Instead, dictating the only correct decision can lead only to educating workers who can perform tasks without any possible innovations or optimized decisions.
Each person has to be an active learner. Freeman et al. have provided the research on active learning to prove that education is reflected in the performance level of people (8410). The ratings in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and other subjects show how educated or not educated a person is (Freeman et al. 8410). However, the same writing emphasizes the idea that active learning is more effective than passive lectures perception. The same tendency can be observed in life. Thus, a person who has learned to get knowledge and analyze it is more likely to solve various problems. As a result, one can argue that either problem-solving skills or abilities to reproduce information are more important to be perceived as a proof of an educated person. In the modern rapidly developing world the first issue is more important, and mainly the ability to think critically leads people to success. However, it is still closely interconnected with the basic competences one should have.
Education and Success
The connections between education and success is quite complicated and primarily predetermined by the personal abilities to choose between more and less important information. The existing educational standards are not oriented towards success of a person. Such idea is based on the realities of life and can hardly be denied with regard to a great number of congressmen and other public personalities who fail to answer easy questions about American history. For instance, Moore’s “Idiot Nation” provides quite interesting evidence of discrepancies between school education and what is necessary to become a valued member of the society. The examples of presidents and other people who could not respond to the questions of the high-school level not only prove that human success and achievements are hardly dependent on the existing school programs, but also suggest that the education curriculum is not very effective in making people remember things (Moore 138). At the same time, the examples of public people show that there is no necessity to do so.
The main aim of education is usually associated with getting a good job and becoming successful. In the same way, understanding of what is important in education changes along with demands to a person who wants to be successful. However, with a great amount of information, it is not possible to remember everything. Hence, understanding what exactly is more important to study is also an important step on the way to success and profound understanding in some sphere. Moreover, “getting involved into the community” is one of the most effective ways to develop a personality and become successful (Moore 140). Hence, if one associates education with future success, the current education system fails to educate students effectively.
Not only public people, but primarily the teachers are those who may increase or decrease students’ interest in subjects. A number of teachers who do not work for inspiration fail to set a proper example to students and enhance qualities that are obligatory for an educated person. Gatto’s story outlined how studying can turn into a boring and ineffective learning process due to the teacher’s behavior (Gatto 145). At the same time, the writer represents how teachers who blame kids for being not interested much in their work fail to provide decent education. If a teacher is not interested in learning new things and developing, analyzing, he or she can hardly teach students to do so (Gatto 146). According to Gatto, the features that must be learnt at school include curiosity and adventure (146). Consequently, one can see that the ability to think critically should be highly appreciated and valued. Children should not become solely employees and consumers with limited knowledge and abilities beyond the standard school programs. In case school does not provide abilities to analyze various phenomena more deeply, parents should become those who do that.
To a great extent, modern technologies provide possibilities to study without anyone’s help. In such a way, the lack of a proper teacher’s example can make school unnecessary at all. However, it is not completely so because school communities and classes are necessary to develop an understanding of social roles and develop abilities to adopt among other people. Such skills are also an important part of education process as far as students should definitely be prepared to become decent members of the society who can communicate with others effectively and differentiate themselves among others (Gatto 150). As far as such features are positive for people’s future success, Gatto also defined some negative aspects of the public school system. Among them, integration into a large group that can be easily manipulated, being obedient regardless of how boring the material can be, labeling and diagnosing future life, division of students into poor and elite groups (Gatto 151).
Theory and Practice
The current education system also fails to provide an ability to draw parallels between theoretical knowledge and real life. For example, the existing K-12 system does not combine subjects properly to provide various analytical and problem-solving skills. On the one hand, each subject can provide a person with skills that should be applied in the real life. Thus, Math provides people with an ability to think and reason abstractly and quantitatively (Stage et al. 276). At the same time, it lets people use structures and understand them, be precise and express some regularities. Science contributes to analytical abilities and explanation construction (Stage et al. 276). Language and Arts contribute to communicative abilities and cultural understanding. In general, these competences form a good background for solid education. On the other hand, the current curriculum does not ensure a proper understanding of all spheres. Thus, the work by Stage et al. provides evidence that CCSS is more than the existing K-12 school system oriented to success of a person not only in studying but also in the future career.
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Globalization and development of technologies are probably the major factors that have widened the worldview of students as well as their possibilities. At the same time they have contributed to the understanding of education and an educated person. Nowadays, one can hardly imagine an educated person who cannot use Internet, uses handwriting instead of printing or cannot work with the widely spread soft or hardware. Nevertheless, it is highly important to understand that far not always electronic, audio and visual devices are helpful in developing proper skills. They are often used improperly and lead to entertainment rather than studying. Moreover, the same advances can help to improve the education process in class as well as provide new opportunities.
Picciano et al., who have examined the possibilities of online learning in the existing K-12 system, explained that online learning at high school can become a bridge to career building and college education (132). Such type of education is effective in rising student’s responsibility and the level of independence. Such features are crucial for any success-oriented person.
Standardized Testing does not Let Students Think Critically
According to Mann, universality is one of the most valuable features of school (113). It provides people with equal opportunities to learn the basic truths of life and get prepared to future work. To some extent, it is true and there are a number of useful life skills that children get while studying. However, the opportunities are far not always equal. Firstly, tagging and labelling children according to some abilities or disabilities is a common practice (Gatto 151). Secondly, social status is a crucial factor to define the possibilities of a student and especially his or her right to higher education (Strauss). Finally, globalization and multinationalism of the American society are also essential issues that destroy equality at schools and often predetermine future perspectives even before graduation. At the same time, standardized testing, which is aimed to provide unbiased and equal attitude to students, does not support the “spirit of justice” that was emphasized as important by Mann (114). On the contrary, it limits creativity of students and does not allow estimating their critical skills.
High Schools Are Effective in Preparing Children for College
One the greatest advantages of American high schools education is that students have the right to choose the class with some advanced learning of the subjects that might become a basis for the choice of future profession. However, in reality, it is not so. Ability to choose subjects does not contribute to success in college.
The problem of high schools’ level of preparation to future college challenges seems two fold. The quality of training depends on various constituents. Thus, school program usually includes too many subjects, a great number of which are often unnecessary due to the narrow specialization at college. Although, the American system of education is considered to be one of the best arranged in terms of future prospects, there are some disadvantages claimed to lessen its effectiveness.
To improve the situation, schools include active teaching with involvement of technologies, online sources and visual aids aimed at achieving a high level of professional skills necessary for future education (Freeman et al. 8411). However, researchers estimate that due to a huge number of remediate courses at colleges, the level of high school preparation is not enough to comply with the demands not only for colleges but for future jobs as well (Gerber).
Despite being prepared for entering a college after high school graduation, students face numerous disadvantages such as entrance fees, which are rather high for middle- and low-income families. Hence, high schools should keep up with the latest demands of the labor market in order to prepare students for obtaining future professions and being ready for what expects them in college or at workplace.
High Schools Are Effective to Prepare the Workforce
The task of the government is to encourage the professional preparation of specialists. Moreover, there exists a definite number of people with creative thinking and a definite number of leaders. Hence, educational establishments have to be effective in training specialists. Otherwise, there would be no proper work in any business. However, it is arguable whether high school education is proper for future professions if it does not provide sufficient preparation for college.
In fact, the sectors of education and labor have to cooperate in order to provide the market with a sufficient number of qualified and trained personnel. The institutions and establishments of “private and public sector must work together to fix the deficit of technical skills and knowledge” (Gerber). However, the presence of such deficit shows that trainings are not effective to ensure the necessary skills. Moreover, low-income families, whose children study at “inadequately funded schools with the largest class sizes and lowest paid teachers” get little to no possibility to become good specialists (Strauss). The reason is that social class is highly important to shape the worldview of people and the views on the personal possibilities. The majority of such professionals are those, who had a good higher education. In such a way, inability to provide education to the lower classes leads to inability to make them good professionals and confident leaders. Hence, the education system is ineffective due to the lack of the equal possibilities.
To sum up, the research paper has proved that the current education system has a number of failures that do not let the country get well-educated people. Moreover, sometimes high schools are less effective in educating children than the family or social influence. With regard to cultural, technological and other competences, an important feature of any educated person is the final success in career and communication with people. With this in mind, adapting ability, active learning and critical thinking are inseparable characteristics of such people. Hence, the problems of the current education system are predetermined by inability of high schools to provide active and inspiring examples represented by teachers, failure of the existing K-12 system to combine subjects properly in order to provide various analytical and problem-solving skills to students, globalization and technological development that predetermines the necessity of some skills that are rarely learnt at school. There is a view that school provides equal opportunities to students. However, a number or evidences shows that such idea is erroneous. Some opponents argue that the existing education system is effective in preparing children for college and future profession. However, the truth is that a person who is not able to analyze effectively and learn quickly can do very little with high-school level knowledge. Instead, the above mentioned skills are the main tasks of education and the basis for future success.