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The future of Education

Is there any hope?

Setting goals in the field of education is never an easy task. So many people have different opinions, and they can never seem to agree on what’s best for the students. Politicians promise education reform because it sounds good to the constituents, but they are so far removed from the realities of education that they aren’t much help.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act has good intentions. It was first proposed to ensure that all children, regardless of race, sex, or economic condition, are guaranteed the right to a quality education. This is a noble promise, and I firmly believe the purposes behind it are excellent. Unfortunately, it isn’t working. Instead of providing a chance for students to grow through education, NCLB has placed them all into a box formed by standards testing and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) reports.

The first goal of education should be to get back to concentrating on what the student needs in order to succeed in life. Every child is different. Not everyone is cut out for academia, many will never become Rhodes Scholars, and that’s okay. We need people from all occupations if we want to live in a successful world. It’s time educational reformers started realizing that standard testing is not an effective means of judging a student’s potential. The only way to assess potential is to work with children to see what they’re capable of doing.

A first step in achieving this goal would be to ensure that all teachers from K thru eight are inspiring their students with a love of learning rather than fostering a hatred of testing. Children are naturally curious. Teachers need to encourage their curiosity while directing their attention to the world they can discover through learning. When used to inspire, books can create a fascinating world of adventure, and learning becomes a pleasure instead of a chore.

To ensure that children develop the skills they need to move ahead in life, the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic need to be taught in these early years of education. When a child is not developing as quickly as his or her classmates are developing, there should be no stigma attached to being left behind. Instead, repeating previous lessons should be looked at as a chance to grasp the necessary skills before moving on. We are doing them no favors, and in fact, set them up for failure when we force them ahead before they are ready.

Once they reach the secondary school level, the goal should be to help them find a life where they can be successful. Whether they want to be a plumber or a lawyer, they should be encouraged to explore their options, and receive an education that will help them develop their potential. Because they have already mastered the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, their secondary teachers should guide them to develop these skills in a way that will enhance their future. Only when we start putting the students and their needs ahead of standards testing will true educational reform occur.