PRO/con: Should Educators Be More Strict?

Tomas Kassahun, Rampage Reporter
November 2, 2011
Filed under Opinion, Pro/Con Debates

We’ve had it too easy for too long. Consequently, we are not learning enough and we are taking it for granted. This is the current state of American education.

As a student who has grown up in two different parts of the world, I have seen both sides of the story. On one hand, I have seen how serious education can be because I grew up in Ethiopia, a country where there is a strong emphasis on education, although the opportunity to learn is scarce. But I have also seen America, a country where education is abundant yet not nearly as valued as many other countries.

Of course in any part of the world, there are always parents who lecture their children about the value of education and there are always instructors who push their students to do their best. But that’s not to say the standards are the same.

What I remember as a child growing up in Ethiopia is the intense level of competition among students even as low as the third grade. The goal of every student was to be ranked No. 1 in the class and those who were ranked low had a very good chance of repeating the entire year all over again. Moreover, the end of the year didn’t bring parties, but rather final exams which pretty much decided whether the student would pass the grade or not. 
In America, I have been fortunate enough to meet teachers who wouldn’t leave me alone until I turned in the best paper I could possibly turn in. At the same time, I have found teachers who were just happy to see me pass. 
Sometimes I want to thank them for their generosity.   They were kind enough to curve my grades, neglect some of my errors and give me full credit for an assignment I completed while half asleep.  But should I also feel frustrated knowing I passed these classes without actually learning anything?
It seems as though our standards are on a constant decline.  I can say that because I see eighth graders setting their sights on community college when they can be aiming for so much more.  I see students at the end of every semester inventing new ways to bribe the teacher for a passing grade. And sadly, some of these bribes do work.
Sure America is the land of second chances, but in recent years these second chances have become more of a disadvantage. Students relax in highs school knowing they have a community college or home schooling to fall back on.
By now it has become well documented that America has fallen behind in education. In fact, the United States has fallen from 12th to 16th in the share of adults age 25 to 34 holding degrees, according to the report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Researchers have gone deep in hopes of finding the cause of the issue. But the answer may not be that complicated. It may just be because too many students are relying on extra credit to pass their classes. Or maybe it’s because teachers don’t hold students responsible for showing up to class on time or even showing up at all. Better yet, the answer may be found in the number of empty seats that can be found at the end of each semester. Sometimes you can even see the difference in the parking lot at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester.
What’s even more baffling is that some teachers are late more than the students. So if the teachers don’t take their job seriously, students don’t see a reason to take their education seriously. Students can sometimes be found outside of classrooms hoping for the “15 minute rule.” Meaning, if the teacher doesn’t show up in 15 minutes, the students can leave.  
Times are tough in America and without a serious education, it may get even tougher. Only when the bar is set higher, will the youth become critical thinkers and return America to its rightful place in education.   

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