Education in the Real World
One of the strongest countries in the world is rotting. That country is the United States. As a direct result of our culture’s aggressive, wasteful entertainment, the people coming out of our high schools do not realize the difference between literary genius and folly. This miserable dilemma renders our future generations incapable of appreciating and producing the excellent literature—The Grapes of Wrath, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn–that for centuries defined America. Furthermore, our country’s mathematical skills are sadly deteriorating, falling behind many other world-leading countries.
In a global study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), America’s high school math skills land in 28th place out of 40 countries. This failing of American education places our students’ adult lives in precarious positions. Due to a lack in literary and mathematical education, high school students are set up to fail in life, and only properly teaching literature and enforcing mathematics can spare their futures. Our constant entertainment, ads, and cartoons are destroying our nation’s literary education. According to author and professor Todd Gitlin, Americans, on average, “watch television, or are in its presence, for more than four hours a day”; that adds up to about 1440 hours a year. Since they constantly view cheap sound-bite information instead of absorbing worthy literature, our high school students have, as Gitlin put it, “shallow and scattered educations.
” For instance, I know of an English tutor, fictitiously named Betty, who attends a local college. While attempting to assist another student with his English paper, Betty mistook male “chauvinist” pigs with “chivalrous” ones. She never realized her blunder. Had Betty, instead of watching endless hours of TV, studied English, from spelling to vocabulary, when she was in high school, her error would probably not have occurred. As a result of watching Modern Family instead of reading Moby Dick, our high schoolers do not learn about true English and are doomed to confuse chivalry with chauvinism.
Our national lack of math skills impairs us as much as our literary lethargy and throws us dangerously far behind other industrialized countries. Societies, and even nations, are almost always divided by their educational levels; the less educated being dominated by the more intellectual. Unfortunately for the United States, the OECD survey of education shows that Hong Kong leads the world in mathematical education, with 31% of fifteen-year-olds in two of the top scoring groups. American students of the same age lag at 10%. This proves that American math classes are, by and large, too easy.
Furthermore, the OECD report shows that 72% of American fifteen-year-olds say they make good math grades, but only 25% in Hong Kong claim the same, further proving that American high schools have surprisingly simple math curriculums and workloads. If America wishes to remain industrially competitive, our high schools must make math classes more rigorous. If they do not, we will continue to lag behind the rest of the world. To effectually educate and encourage high schoolers to keep up with other countries’ students, American high schools should require more homework of their students. If average students had more homework, they would not have as much time to spend on educationally detrimental TV.
Television teaches them nothing about realistic life outside of high school and since American households steep in countless hours of it, teenagers desperately need more assignments, both English-and math-based, to keep their minds flexible and functioning. America is in grave danger of coming under the power of more educated nations, because as the father of American public education, Horace Mann, put it: “If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor . . . the latter . .
. will be the servile dependents . . . of the former.
” This principle applies to nations as well as the social strata Mann decried. High school students on the whole need more homework to shield them from the harsh, global punishments of ignorance. As a result of House, The Office, and limited high school education, Betty will probably always be confused by chauvinism and chivalry. Unfortunately, she is almost certainly not the only student with this dilemma. With hundreds of thousands of high schoolers ingesting the same curriculum she did, it is highly unlikely that other students received different results. The same is true in the field of mathematics.
Students are allowed to educate themselves through entertainment instead of geometry, Mindy’s Project instead of algebra. As a result, America is shoved lower and lower in world-wide educational statuses. Only one thing can solve this problem: Work. Work, in this case homework, has protected America before, and it will do so again. We cannot allow our schools to rot our nation from the inside out.
We must take control and update high schools’ homework assignments or suffer the dangerous consequences of an uneducated nation.