Dear Mr/Madam President,
America used to pride itself on fulfilling dreams. Anyone could make themselves who they wanted to be; they just had to work for it. But that is the issue here. Not very many people are willing to put all their effort into making their dreams a reality. That causes Americans to not become what they want to be. Part of the reason for the problem is that the expectations for American students are set lower than they should be, which decreases the chance of these potential-filled kids actually reaching their full potential. By giving our teachers more freedom on how to teach, changing the focus of the education system away from passing standardized tests, and helping students enjoy learning rather than resent it, America’s education system can receive better results.
As of right now, our education system gets in the way of learning. Teachers are forced to teach according to the curriculum for the standardized test, which frustrates them and their students. In order to fulfil your dreams, you need to have an education. But our education system has problems and students aren’t getting the education they need to achieve their dreams. By fixing these problems students will start to value learning and great teachers will be motivated to stay in the system and teach. It will re-open the path for students to achieve their dreams.
Finland is actually very similar to the United States when it comes to education. Yet, they are one of the top countries in the world while the U.S. continues to recess from the middle to the bottom end of the charts/spectrum. If we have ideas that are so close to Finland’s for education, then how are our results so different?
In America our educational system requires a standardized test at the end of every year. This forces teachers to teach to the test and prevents them from individualizing their teaching to fit the needs of the students. The Finnish educational system only allows one standardized test at the end of high school. This works better because it lets teachers focus on helping students learn instead of helping them pass a test. Because education is not a one-size-fits-all situation, the Finnish way of teaching allows teachers to have the time, responsibility, and freedom to help students who learn differently than others. Teachers care about their students, and when our system prevents them from helping a student, it is very discouraging.
Our American system is disheartening for many of our greatest teachers. Sadly, this causes many of them to stop teaching long before they want to because of autonomy. The ability to teach in the way that they feel works best for their students is something that has been slowly disappearing in the United States. In Finland, teachers are not subjugated on where their students are at educationally because the government knows that the teachers are dependable and will do whatever it takes to help their students achieve the national goals set by the country. However, teachers in America, even though many have high degrees and are trained in education, are treated like they aren’t smart enough to know how to teach. Therefore, we need to trust our teachers to teach and give them the freedom to meet the needs of each individual student.
Many students feel that going to school to learn has a bad connotation to it. Schools in Finland are more enjoyable because kids are focused on playing and enjoyment. They don’t begin school until the age of 6 and are required to have a 15 minute break every hour. According to a study done by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the average U.S. 5th grader spends 50 minutes on homework every day while Finnish rarely do homework until their teens. If we focused on giving students more time to play and relax and spend less time on homework, it would bring back the joy of learning.
When I was in 9th grade, I had a teacher who taught science. In a field like science with new information and findings constantly being discovered, it should have been interesting and fun to learn. Yet, I can easily say that it was the most boring class, and it was the teacher who took all of the excitement out of it. His only purpose seemed to be wanting to say that he covered all of the material that he was required to teach. That should not be the only purpose of a class. What I wanted out of the class was to learn something that I didn’t know before. Biology is an exciting subject that affects every aspect of life, and after the class, I felt like I hadn’t remembered a single thing. For a student interested in science, that was incredibly disappointing. It felt like a whole year wasted. More recent teachers that I’ve had have rekindled my interest in learning science.
I don’t know everything about education or educational reform, but I do know that something needs to change. We need to trust our teachers to teach students according to what works best for them, help students to enjoy learning and turn focus away from passing tests to remembering the material. America was the top in the world, the place where people could go and fulfil their American dream. As of right now, we’re letting those who came before us down. So let’s take our education into our own hands and prove to other countries, and to ourselves, that we’ve still got the American fire in us; that we’ve got something more to share and add. The Finnish have been doing it right for a long time, and it has worked for other countries who have copied their system. We can fix the American education system if we follow in their footsteps, and someday we can be up there again, established as the greatest in the world.