Project Visions: iGoverness – Part 2

Part 2 of our feature on improving our education system using modern technology and the iGoverness idea comes straight from Part 1. If you have not read Part 1 yet, please go back and read it so that you know the motivations for the following article.

Where the Modern Education System Fails
Surely, the modern education system and the standards that are followed have an immense value to living in the current conditions that the United States has to offer. But, as with all standardized systems, there are problems inherent to the way it works.

The first idea we are going to touch on consists of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative. Now, this initiative is certainly admirable, but it tends to change the dynamic of the economic system as a tertiary cascading effect as much as it does the way we teach our children.

The NCLB act is definitely a hotly debated subject, and for good reason. As the Wikipedia page states, there is a tendency for teachers to “teach to the test” and only the subjects and ideas that go along with the test. This creates a very myopic viewpoint in our children, teaching them that they can get by in life only learning what is needed, and not necessarily creating any kind of interest in subjects outside of the standard-issue test subjects.

Something that bothers me about initiatives such as this, is that they put more funding into the lower-ranked children, allowing them to “get by” and get through school so that they can go out into the world and become productive members of society. Now, this is not such a bad thing, and we really should be encouraging and helping those children who are not exceedingly intelligent, or are just not mentally geared toward traditional learning.

But what does this do for the overachievers and the intelligent children? Well, because the standards are being lowered in order to pass the bottom line, there are no challenges. Just as in a socialist economy, there is no reason for a child to work hard to achieve the graduation requirements, as less fortunate children are able to be coddled along until they reach the required education levels. Why do A work when you can pass with a C and do almost no outside studying?

This creates another issue: college educations. When a student goes out into the real world, the high school diploma is becoming more and more devalued, as any student is able to get through the lowered requirements. This leads us to rely on college educations as a true meter for how a person thinks and whether or not they are qualified for a certain job. Some students can’t afford to get a college education, and this means that they won’t be extended the same opportunities because they don’t have a piece of paper listed on their resume.

The importance of a college education also devalues the importance of real-world in the field work experience. I know, in my personal experience, that 75% of jobs in the Technology field require a Bachelor’s Degree, whether or not you have experience in the field. In fact, some openings require the BS to a degree that the human resources departments won’t even consider your resume if you do not have a degree. I understand that a degree shows that you have the stick-to-it-iveness to get through a structured program, and to solve the issues of the canned every-day world experiences.

The other problem I see with a NCLB initiative is that it creates a disparity between the funding that goes in to the different “classes” of students. The future of the country was once reliant upon the top students going into fields of importance and making changes for the better in our country. When the bottom-rung students get into positions of power, with their narrow view of the world and the intellectual challenges that are present, what kind of power structure does that leave us with?

When more money and effort is being spent on the intelligent students, our power structure is backed up with a workforce that provides top decision making skills. I definitely understand that this is an oversimplification of a very complex issue, but the idea has to strike true to your brain.

The total population in the “mid-range” intelligence level (above mentally handicapped, but below “gifted”) is far greater than those in the other categories. It does make sense to put 90% of your resources toward 90% of the population of up and coming children. This is an intellectual truism, but when one looks at where this money and effort is going, into the McDonald’s managers of the future, rather than the aeronautical engineers, one has to consider where our priorities are.

So, when more money, time and effort are put into the lower rungs, this sets the bar lower for the higher potential students, and actually drags them down to the level of the “normal” students. Teaching has to be scaled back in speed to accept the learning styles of the slower students, leaving the quicker students dragging, and in a bored situation.

I was a victim of this mentality. I skated by in high school, doing the bare minimum (and sometimes less) because there was no reason for me to apply my abilities in a situation where it was not warranted.

So, how do we fix this problem using technology, while not creating a dependence on said technology? Stay tuned for Part 3 where we discuss what we can do for our future students.