Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Life is what you make of it”. There is no better phrase to describe the current state of the American educational system. People look at the educational network across America today and ask themselves why test scores and educational standards are lower than they should be in such a prospering country right now. Government officials wonder, ‘What can we do to make the schools here better? How much money should we put into hiring better teachers and buying new technology for the schools? Should taxes be higher in order to account for the so-called “failure” of our next generation’s education?’. Government personnel lack the ability to step back and look at the bigger picture of this issue. It’s not the teachers; it’s not the technology; it’s not the lack of economic funds. The problem is nothing more than the students.
No improvements to the American educational system can be made without first changing the attitudes of the students. If the students are uninterested and unwilling to learn and put effort into schoolwork and their own education, that is no one’s fault but their own. Nothing more can be done to set up American students for success. The majority of teenagers will attend high school and around sixty to seventy percent of high school graduates will attend a college or university. And frankly, a lot of these privileged students are throwing their educational opportunities out the window. In order to have a successful educational experience, you must first realize how lucky you are to have those opportunities. As to the next step… just run with it.
“A compilation of the top 40 books teens in grades 9-12 are reading in school shows that the average reading level of that list is 5.3-barely about the fifth grade” (Huffington Post). This is just one of the many statistics showing how the laziness of students is affecting the general views on the intelligence of our next generation of students. If students are not willing to challenge themselves to read books that are at least at their grade level, how do they expect to succeed in a college English class? Students must have the drive to challenge themselves to reach new levels and take in every bit of information given to them. In an article titled, “My lazy American students”, Kara Miller explains how as a teacher who has taught in both American schools and international schools, it is shocking how unmotivated her American students are in comparison to her international students. Miller also explains how although the rapid rise in technology in schools is very useful in some areas, it has come with a price. Students would rather sit in class and text or play games on their iPads than listen to a lecture about the economy. In Cartoon 2, children are shown strapped to machines that prevent them from exploring more liberal subjects like arts and science. This again relates back to the idea that a student’s educational experience is what they make of it. If they are unhappy studying the basic core subjects, then they will have opportunities to explore everything that spikes their interest once they get to their university of choice. However, if they are too lazy to put forth the effort to succeed in secondary schooling, there won’t be any college.
It’s all one big process. College is that chance, that chance to find what you really love and learn to eat, sleep, and breathe that area of study. As unnecessary as some material taught in classes in middle and high school, everyone has to go through it, and there is a reason for that. In Nicholas Lemman’s article, “Schoolwork”, he explains how the American education system is underestimated. Lemman discusses how we have fallen into this assumption that our education system is failing, yet we never really step back and look at how far we have come. He writes, “A hundred years ago, eight and a half percent of American seventeen-year-olds had a high school degree… Now, on any given weekday morning, you will find something like fifty million Americans…sitting under the roof a public-school building…” (Lemman). Lemman could not be any more accurate. We are constantly hearing about all the problems in schools and with our educational system, yet we never really stop to realize how amazing it is that we even have means of education.
The resources are here; students just need to learn to take advantage of them. As much as we want to tell ourselves that the government needs to change our schools to get better standardized testing results and be on the same level as international students, the schools, nor the government, are the problem. Students must take what they are given, and use every resource to the best of their ability. After all, life is what you make of it.