The earth goes around the sun. Everyone knows this. Or at least it seems like everyone should know this. Yet in a recent poll by the National Science Foundation, it was found that one in four Americans think that the sun revolves around the earth.
Now as a community of college students, it may seem impossible that one in four people don’t know something so basic to our understanding of the solar system. But then again, we live among the most intelligent people in American society. That may seem either elitist or naive, but the basic fact is that the JBU community is made up of people who succeeded in the school system. That’s why we are at a University. At a very simple level, the education system did not fail us. The same cannot be said of the one in four people.
The education system in this country is broken. Some communities have a high illiteracy rate among high school students. Many adults have shockingly low knowledge about basic facts, whether it be politics, the solar system, history or something else.
The problem is a fundamentally dysfunctional philosophy in schools. Many teachers are more preoccupied with graduating students than educating them. It is easier to pass a student that had not learned any particular grade’s curriculum than it is to fail them and make them repeat the grade level again. Teachers too often give up on students who struggle, passing them to make them ‘somebody else’s problem’ instead of taking the effort to try and salvage them and make a difference in their life.
Another problem is the fear that failing a student will cause them to have low self esteem, the everybody gets a trophy philosophy, if you will. It’s the same thinking that makes 60 percent the lowest conceivable grade you can get on an assignment you turn in in many classes. Better reward effort, even if it isn’t good. Grades are something earned instead of something that evaluates a student’s success actually learning or preparedness for future material.
If we want to live in a society that has a high base level of knowledge, we need to address the institution that builds that base: the schools. As long as we don’t have the boldness to challenge students and the bravery to come along side those that do not meet those challenges at first, we will continue to have an undereducated populace.