Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Public Schools are Achaic by M.R. Ussery EdD and S.R. Pargman (Editor)

Interesting idea that still needs some work!

In this book, Ussery discusses the way that our school systems work as well as his solution for the problem.  Our school systems now are full of children that are studying subjects that they don't believe they'll need in the future.  Teachers are overworked.  The love of learning has slowly been dieing out.  The biggest problem is that all students learn differently and at a different rate.  They're all shuttled into the same room and taught the same way.  This leaves several students behind and confused while leaving others bored and uninterested. 

Ussery's solution to the problem is to change the school system to follow a system that was used by the military.  In his system, school will be year round with students in high school choosing which classes they take.  Each class, as well as extra-curricular activity will be worth a certain amount of points.  Once they reach the necessary amount of points, they're able to graduate.  Some students will take longer while others will finish more quickly.  The idea, as I understand it, is to use media more effectually in classrooms.  Though I admit I may have misread, it's my understanding that each child will basically have a computer and take their lessons from it.  Ussery also suggests that as it's ridiculous to expect schools to switch directly over, it could be a good idea to test in boarding schools.

Though this book is well-written, it reads more as a manifesto than anything.  Having two children, one home schooled and one special needs, I'm always interested in possible changes to the school system.  Though I like Ussery's system for allowing children to work at their own pace, I do have a problem with his point system.  Though children would enjoy being able to choose their own classes and choose what they're interested in and believe will be helpful in their future, they're also missing out on one of the most important pieces of our archaic school system.  As a high school student, I remember taking several classes and wondering why I needed them.  Certainly, I was no art major.  Where would I ever need to know about pointilism or Surrat?  The one thing that high school gave me was exposure.  Though at the time I didn't find them useful, I find that little things that I learned pop up out of nowhere and do have meaning for me.  Also, without being forced to take a few classes that I wasn't interested in at the time, I never would have found new interests.  Basically, my only problem with Ussery's plan is that it gives children the choice to ignore exposure to new things.

Now that I've rambled with my opinions, the book really is an interesting read whether.  I don't suggest it if you're just looking for a bit of light reading, but those interested in the school system and where it may or may not be headed will enjoy this.

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