In an age when there are consistently high expectations for the United States’ fiscal and social role in the world, it is paramount that the superpower meticulously reevaluate its education system.
Compared to ones in China, Korea, and Finland, American schools demonstrate an alarming inferiority in math, reading, and science, scoring several places below its rivals, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Programme for International Student Assessment. Considering the US’ exorbitant spending on education reform -— devoting over $800 billion annually to education programs — it is perturbing that there is little noticeable progress.
So how do we fix the system?
American schools are failing because they fundamentally constrict students into a learning model centered on cognitive growth. Ideally, schools should encourage a structure in which curriculums are focused on real-world problems rather than purely disciplinary matters. It is essential that teachers, leaders, and administrators all focus on the development of youth -— development that transcends proficiency in rudimentary scholastic departments and extends to values in other areas of life.
This idea of experiential learning can be applied beyond our public school systems to those of our universities. This past year, UR formed a committee to evaluate experiential learning and their subsequent report on the issue has tremendous potential. There is no better way to learn than by doing and we fully support the idea of experiential learning, as well as the ideas outlined in the SA’s response to this report.
Education is the most important thing we do at UR and we hope the College chooses to make a credible commitment to value the right kind of education -— experiential learning.