The education system is failing us. The U.S. school system is rapidly declining when compared to most other developed nations in the world.
According to the Director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Andreas Schleicher, “The United States ranked 25th in the 2015 Program International Student Assessment (or PISA) — a benchmark of education systems conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),”
While a better education system could create a more prosperous people, the current model in the United States, which places grades above retention of knowledge, has clearly not helped us.
The system does not incentivize students taking control of their education. Where the goal of an educational system is to empower a student with the desire to learn more, the grading system does not encourage this type of empowerment.
Retrieving a degree to attain a job seems to be the goal. It is clear that engagement and attendance in classrooms is not at its maximum. As educators are beholden to their tenure and research to ensure their employment, student’s education is placed in the backseat.
This poses problems for higher-level educational schemes. Professors give only a certain number of each letter grade based on the class’s comparative scores.
This merit system commodifies knowledge by making degrees the end goal rather than empowering a student to learn and add to the body of knowledge within a given field. Students care deeply about their grades, which serve to define their proficiency within a class.
Yet most professors often do not wish to speak of their student’s grades. This is not to say that professors do not care about their students, or do not work hard; quite to the contrary, educators are noble and well-meaning. Placing grades above knowledge breeds apathy within teachers to care for results more than progress.
As long as this educational systems places its merit upon grade marks, creating motivation for both students and educators to progress is not possible. Director Schleicher explains, “This is important. Education used to be about teaching people facts and theorems; now, it’s about helping students develop a reliable compass and the navigation skills to find their own way through an increasingly uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world.”
Opinion columnist Adib Shafipour is a biochemistry sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]