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American Educational Standards Vs. Asia and India - Where Have We Gone Wrong?

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American Educational Standards vs. Asia and India - Where Have We Gone Wrong?

In today's society, the subject of education is something that should be considered of the utmost importance. In America, however, it can be seen that the educational system is in need of massive improvement. Recent test results show that while American students are still ahead in some subjects, students from other countries have taken the lead while American students have fallen behind. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the subjects of math and science.

According to a recent article that appeared in the New York Times, (Dillon, S. 2007) it is shown that American students were significantly outperformed in these subjects by students from Singapore, South Korea, and Japan by a large margin. Studies have shown that students from these countries have scored from 25% to 50% better in math and applied sciences. This fact alone forces the question; what are students from these countries doing right and what are American students doing wrong? Surely it is not for a lack of caring, but where does the problem begin? Unfortunately, these are questions that are not so easy to answer.

The first thing to look at is the cultural differences between American students and their Asian and Indian counterparts. In most Asian countries, the attitude taken towards education in general is quite different that it is here in America. In the States, most believe (more or less) that an education is something one is entitled to. No matter how hard one works, there is a belief that an education is something that will just happen. But in China, for example, an education is seen as a privilege and not something that the student is entitled to simply for being a citizen. Usually, only one child in a family will be lucky enough to pursue an education and the parents of this child believe that this opportunity must NOT be wasted. This child will grow up to bring honor to their family and be a productive part of society. The parents do not view their child's education as something that is their right, but their duty to the country's future survival. This fact alone encourages the student to take their academic career more seriously than a student who just thinks that an education is something that is their right.

There is also an understanding in other countries, most notably Asian countries and India, that math and science are the two most important subjects to learn in order to contribute to their countries economic futures. In fact, according to a recent article in The Science News (Raloff, J. - 2009) when students were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the answers were all variations on math and science oriented careers; scientist, engineer, teacher, engineer, army officer, engineer. Engineer was stated specifically by several different students. In comparison, when American students were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the answers were fields like rock star, entertainer, pro-wrestler, and even game show host! This attitude alone speaks volumes as to the distractions that American students face while pursuing their academic careers. It also implies that there is not enough focus on education and way too much focus on life's other little distractions such as television and entertainment. With evidence such as this we are forced to realize that American students are simply not grounded in enough reality.

Another difficult situation American student's face is the seeming lack of investment their own government has in their children's academic futures, which consequently affects the future of America as a leading economic power in today's world. According to venture capitalist Bob Compton, (Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination 2009), subjects such as math and applied sciences are made mandatory subjects in many Asian and Indian schools, whereas American students are given "electives" to choose from such as creative writing, art, and even bowling in some schools. This statistic is not meant to imply that these elective courses are bad or wrong in any way, but choosing to focus study on these subjects instead of the subjects mentioned above results in a lack of qualified individuals that are available after graduation to compete for necessary positions that will bolster our failing national economy. According to Compton, schools in India and China have set their standards much higher and made their educational programs more demanding. As a result, these countries graduate up to four times as many students every year. What this means is in the future, India and China alone will be contributing a large percentage of the workforce which may leave American students wondering why they cannot get employment. Again, according to Compton, the two countries alone have more than 400 million students enrolled in K-12 education compared to the 53 million America has currently enrolled. As a matter of fact, there are so many qualified students graduating from high school in these countries that the universities cannot accommodate them all. The students wind up applying at American universities simply because they



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