The way America is perceived and how they like to portray themselves is a “perfect” nation full of “perfect” people, almost like a Utopian society. They are quick to point out flaws of other Nations but refuse to shed light on issues of their own. The issues America faces can go on almost infinitely: Income Inequality and the American Justice System are examples of hot button issues that need to be addressed. One issue that is not seen as relevant is The Education System. This should be as mass-mediated and should cause the same concern to American Citizens as any other hot button issues mentioned. This issue deals greatly with the future of this Nation: our kids in America.
Of course, I know the idea of a Utopian society is preposterous because we live in the real world. Playing politics with education is unfathomable at best. Education is truly the only equipment that can prepare someone for the world. Education gives that one person the tools to better their life, living conditions and the power to give back to humanity or the world. The workload I have experienced in college has been life changing and is night and day compared to homeschooling (which I did from preschool to twelfth grade). Unlike some, I was blessed to have very educated parents one with a Master’s Degree and another with a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), and four other University Degrees, to be my educators throughout my time in homeschooling. The advantage of being home schooled is that I was really able to learn at my own pace. My parents and I had the luxury to spend an “x” more amount of time getting into the “nitty-gritty” of anything I did not fully understand or would like to know more about. I asked them questions like “Who was Tecumseh in the War of 1812?” or “Would you mind giving me more questions on factoring the square?” As my teachers, they gladly obliged to the request of the student.
Homeschooling also opened the gates to travel opportunities. As I was growing up we use to travel all over the country and outside mainly to my motherland of Nigeria. Because I was home schooled we could take our books and my parents could teach me from there. I also learned and experienced cultures first hand that no book could ever teach me. We could afford to stay three months at one time overseas while here that is the term of one school semester. The relaxed and flexible lifestyle of homeschooling is something I think everyone ought to experience. I like to think of homeschooling like “intense tutoring”. You truly understand what you are doing because you are one person.
The argument I hear most of is “Homeschooling makes you anti-social.” I will admit over the years I have encountered very peculiar people who were home schooled. People never believe I am home schooled because of how extroverted I act. The way my parents battled my social deprivation was putting me into multiple extracurricular activities. I played soccer, basketball, tennis, football, violin, piano, acted, modeled and even did karate and sang in a chorus for years. There are also weekly, bi-weekly, tri-weekly or even daily groups specifically designed for home schoolers. The opportunities to socialize are endless. Even in college I still encounter the “abnormal” people who went to traditional school. It all really depends on what you define as “normal”.
Other questions I get are, “Is homeschooling legitimate?” Some think homeschooling is an easy way to get A’s and teachers can “grade gouge” as I like to refer to it. In reality, homeschooling teachers have to follow the same guidelines as others. They have to report to the school board every year and students have to go through a process called “Evaluations”. This is a process that determines whether a student can move on to the next grade. It works like this: The work you did for your grade year has to include the usual: History, English, Mathematics, Science, Personal Fitness and one extracurricular activity. This is all presented to a person called an “Evaluator” (he or she has to be certified by the school board). Their main goal is to look over the work you presented from the start of the school year to the end and make sure it is adequate. If they deem it meets school board standards then you pass to the next grade. There are various types of homeschooling parents who teach you, online and extra. The benefit is that there is no massive time concentrated on the student and they can learn at their own pace.
I can only imagine the workload for students who attended traditional schools. I am a strong believer in “Everyone has the power to do great things.” It is very difficult to achieve greatness if everyone does not have the same resource and is expected to perform like the other students. The playing field is not leveled at all and it is unfair to punish students because, outside of school, the faculty does not know their home life. The environment students have surrounding them impacts the performance of students greatly. Some cannot even afford to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sometimes the lunch meal that the school provides will be that student’s only meal until the following lunch at school the next day.
Not every student has educated parents who can help them with their homework or can afford outside tutors. Students sometimes do not even have parents and can come from extremely disheveled backgrounds. Students can come from deplorable areas and or have atrocious parents yet they are expected to learn brand new concepts in a week if that. Sometimes classes like mathematics throw so many new concepts at you in a week and students are expected to have a solid foundation on them for the test next week. A lot of times failing to acknowledge that the same students have multiple classes expecting the same outcome of grasping their foundation simultaneously. If they fail or do not perform to their needs (usually a “C” is the lowest grade you can get to pass) then they are held back without their peers, and the failing students are forced to bear the idea of them being “stupid”; while in reality they honestly could not grasp a brand new, sometimes complex concept for multiple classes in the short amount of time allocated to them. The Educational System treat students like everyone is a middle-class family. The System also fails to realize that everyone learns at a different pace.
Teachers are sometimes the issue too. They are given brute power deciding the future of where your child will end up. The way the teachers teach could be the problem. If the whole class fails a test, surely that cannot be solely the student’s blunder. The enthusiasm of the teacher will impact the classroom environment. Some love their jobs and it can show because the students radiate whenever anyone mentions that particular teacher’s name. Others can become unamused when one mentions their least favorite teacher. The attitude and demeanor teachers give in their class will significantly impact what the students get out of the class, which is the whole point.
The emphasis that is focused on standardized tests to get into a college like SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Testing Program) or even higher education GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) should be eradicated. The idea that everyone is on the same leveled playing field goes right back to what I discussed previously in this paper. The significance that is put on these tests will in the most literal sense “make you or break you”. Tests like these in today’s society will have an immense determination of where one ends up and gives one the credibility that one longs for. Star pupils from the beginning of their educations with a 4.0 GPA (Grade Point Average), star athlete, president of their debate team, Boy Scout of a America – Eagle Scout or Girl Scout of America – Gold Award Recipient, Honors programs or IB (International Baccalaureate) programs and almost infinite amount of community service hours are denied Ivy league educations just because they happened to get a 600 out of 1600 on the SAT, 16 out of a 32 on the ACT. Tests like these completely nullify that person’s achievements in school and outside of the academic field. If that is all colleges and universities want for, are standardized testing scores, why waste that person’s time in honor programs? People who have had a 2.0 GPA their whole lives but got a 34 out of 36 on the ACT got accepted into any school of their choice. It seems unfair for someone to work extremely hard from first grade to twelfth grade and to be denied the education they deserve just because they could have had a bad day on the day of the test or they could be naturally bad at test taking. For someone who was haphazard during their first grade to twelfth-grade years and so happened to take their standardized testing seriously and scored well is a “cop out” if you ask me.
Education is one of the few traits that sets humans apart. Playing politics or trying to get some type of financial gain at the expense of the children of America is bizarre. The idea that everyone has the same opportunities as others is ignorant and naive. The American Education System definitely needs a revamp in terms appropriating the best education to the American Citizens.
Thank you for taking the time to read, “Flaws with the Educational System” by Nnanna Victor Nwadike. If you enjoyed this article or it has moved you in any way, please consider supporting the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights at www.loweryinstitute.org. Let us be the change!