Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We Need To Stress Fundamentals Again In Education

When I went to school, the philosophy was to teach the "3 R's," reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. Having come into contact many college students and even graduates, I have found that many exhibit poor writing skills. When I have interviewed young people, and requested three paragraphs from them as part of the process, the result has convinced me that today's educational system has not sufficiently emphasized this aspect. While certain new developments and advances have furthered educated, this de-emphasis in necessary skills has been detrimental to our future generations.
Many of these young people are otherwise extremely bright and talented, so the lack of writing skills cannot be attributed to a any lack of intellect, or intelligence. My conclusion is that when schools and school "policy makers" decided years ago that other things were more important to teach than the "3 R's," they de-emphasized formal writing skills. Many of the same young people who have difficulty writing, have an incredible grasp of concepts, and an otherwise superb skill- set. However, it appears that many schools have maintained emphasis on only one of the "R's," reading, while placing far less emphasis on either writing or arithmetic. Many of the young people who exhibit writing challenges also have far less mastery of basic mathematical skills, such as addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. These individuals have been taught many sophisticated ideas and concepts mathematically, but a large number must depend on a calculator or some other device to do even the most basic of mathematical functions.
Have there been some benefits to today's students because of this change of emphasis? There certainly have been in the areas of technology, technology usage, interpretation, music and the arts. However, where I believe the system has "let down" these "kids" is in mastering many basic skills. In the attempt to educationally "reinvent the wheel," and correct some of the "malfunctions" of previous educational policy (such as teaching by rote, memorization, and not relating what was being taught to practical usage), the "new education" causes huge gaps in necessary skills. For example, if someone cannot adequately put thoughts to paper, how is one able to express himself to others? Today's over-dependence on such things as "texting language," has created a generation weak in grammatical skills, spelling ability, and vocabulary. The "abbreviations" used instead of words, the shortcuts, etc., are fine when using SMS or MMS media, but are not the optimum way to communicate in a regular written document, either on paper, in a Web- article, in a well- written Blog, etc.
Hopefully, educators will realize that written and basic mathematical skills are a necessary learning block that must be taught, used and mastered, if more sophisticated ideas are to be optimally learned. Educators must also learn that while the "3 R's" may not be "fun," they are necessary in the real world of everyday life and business. Many colleges and universities have realized the lack of these skills in their students, and have begun to emphasize important skills, such as writing. However, isn't it somewhat unfair to college students to have to shoulder addition stress and burden to have to first master these skills in college (often extending the length of time it takes to graduate, plus the additional expense), when the basics should have been adequately taught prior to that. One of the reasons that the SAT exams now has a written component is because of the recognition of writing as a necessary and essential skill.
Parents should emphasize these needs to their School Boards when children are younger, so that college students are far better prepared. Parents should do this from both an educational as well as financial point of view. Does anyone really believe that this educational deficiency and the fact that most students average five or more years to finish college today, are unrelated? Let's get back to some basics, so that students will be better equipped to handle life's challenges and needs!

No comments:

Post a Comment