Is the Current Educational System in the United States Preparing Our Children for the Future?

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The US education system follows a similar pattern similar to many other systems in the world that sees the children progress from early childhood education, the elementary school, high school and finally to postsecondary or tertiary education. The analog and industrial economy type of education was developed to fill in the necessary workforce in the government, education, healthcare, and media. Over the years the local and state governments have been in control of the education system in producing skilled and productive workforce through investment in infrastructure and basic research. However, these institutions have significantly shifted into the digital era that requires innovative workforce. Studies show that the American education system is on a decline as compared to other countries. Through learning what entails to become an engineer or a lawyer has led to decline in literacy and most significantly innovation. The education system only equips the students with a fair understanding of what such roles entails. Although the education system has served the nation well, there is the need to meet any unprecedented challenges in the future. The purpose of this research is to find out whether the current education system in the US is preparing our children for the future.

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Literature Review

Proponents of the US education system point out to the inclusiveness of the education system since its creation in the mid 20th Century. Kirst argues that the US K-12 education system has been effective in serving all pupils for up to twelve years and eliminating weeding them out at an earlier age (2). This system has therefore helped in retaining many students in school with over 88% graduating high school with diplomas or the equivalent. Kirst further argues that the education system has enabled the country to have a large pool of young educated workforce to propel the country forward.

Carlton reiterates that the American education system is not so-broken as it has been suggested arguing that there doesnt exist any end to progress on the system (507). Carlton further argues that current education system boasts of more qualified teachers as compared to the late 20th century where teachers didnt have any training on how to work with students from diverse backgrounds (508). In a similar manner Kirst (3), argues that the current curriculum that has been labeled as relic of the past has seen scores rise up over the years. The score gaps that existed among students of color, natives as well as between boys and girls have significantly declined. However, the education system has not fully achieved equity. The nations founders celebrated education arguing that each citizen has a right to education. The education system has however failed in attaining this equity where a majority of the programs initiated by the government have fallen short.

Kohn (16) and Hadjar and Christiane (54) agree that although the education system should not shift from reading, doing math as well as other valuable skills, more emphasis should be put on why such learning matters. Hadjar and Christiane (66) posit that the current education system only revolves around copying lecture notes, listening to lectures and passing exams. This has transformed learning by making students memorize what they read in order to pass exams. Kohn (50) argues that for most part of learning, students have been able to figure out ways of navigating the system. Referred to as hoop jumping, the students are rarely engaged thereby rendering the learning process non transformative. Carlton (511) likens the current education system to a movement through motions. Whereas the highest achievers in class are praised, Carlton argues that they are the least engaged students as they have only mastered the art of passing exams (512).

States News Service observes that in order to prepare the students to succeed in life, changes in the current education system are inevitable. Most importantly is the ability to teach students how to argue and persuade powerfully at the expense of mere writing. Other than discovering what the students are capable of, the current system is bent on having students focus on academics and arts. A majority of students get to discover their talents when its too late more so when they join college. Carlton (507) argues that the students need to be encouraged to ask the right questions and pursue real knowledge. Other than waiting till they join college and universities, the road to discovery and innovation should be curved out at an early age.

Levine argues that the American education system is not effective as it should be due to the systems inherent problems. Political wrangling on contentious issues such as religious education have led to the schools offering the students a narrow way of thinking and thereby limiting the students ability to solve social differences in life. States News Service alludes to this idea noting that a lot of western history has been built on religious ideas and the failure of the government to address the role of religion in classroom only acts as a catalyst for oversensitivity about religious issues. Kohn posits that in a nation that has witnessed acts of terrorism propelled by religious differences, the education system should be structured in a way that helps learners have a deeper understanding of differing religious opinions (54).

The best education systems around the world are focused on enabling the students learn how to learn and fail. The focus should be on creating environments that allow students to discover, engage, and foster creativity. This calls for a shift from rote learning to integration of print, video, and photography mediums. Kohn argues that many schools in the US continue to wallow in the past and are slowly adapting to the fast, stronger, and adaptable technological methods of teaching (65).

Lack of understanding of moral issues in schools also contributes to ruining of the future generations. Cicek argues that the US education system is plagued with plagiarism due to lack of ethical stringency within the institutions (523). Studies show that cheating is also rampant with students interviewed normalizing the vice as commonplace. In some institutions, cheating is treated as a minor infraction. Technology has also brought a new dimension to cheating through text messaging and downloading of answers online. This has created a culture where the pressure to get good grades outweighs the risk of being caught (524).

According to Levine, there has been a rising number of school drop outs in the US especially in high school. Although almost half of the dropouts have been noted to fall below the poverty line, a majority have been found to be able to afford rent and even own vehicles. Hadjar and Christiane (71) posit that a high school diploma has been regarded as the ticket to higher earnings. The ability to earn even without graduating college eliminates the need to learn in the population.

According to Levine, the American education system first begins with learning and later practicing what is learnt in class at the places of work. However, this approach fails to match well with professional and personal success in America today. Hadjar and Christiane (102) argue that learning and doing are inseparable in conditions that require innovation and discovery.


The US education system was meant to equip the learners with creative ways of succeeding in life as well as meet the changing needs of the society. Whereas this system has helped achieve these goals in the past, studies argue that there is need to restructure the system in order to prepare the children for the future. Noteworthy is the integration of technology in the learning environment. Levine notes that there will be an additional two billion people in the world within the next twenty years which will constrain the resources. A change is therefore required in the education system to incorporate more research and innovative ways in science, engineering, medicine as well as other fields. The current education system in the US falls short in enabling learners to utilize advanced technology in the learning process. Cicek (528) argues that while students may be provided with computer lessons, they only get to learn advanced concepts such as computer language in colleges and universities.

Technology also has its disadvantages that risk hindering learning in students. One of the major disruptions in learning occurs through the use of technology. For example, students are likely to stray during a lecture by streaming contents that are outside the class content. Technology has also been noted as the driving force behind cheating in schools. The education system has failed to strike a balance on how technology can be effective in preparing the students to meet the changing needs in the world. Worryingly is the lack of assistive technology for students with disabilities. The future success of the country is embedded on having all its citizens learned and able to utilize the skills in real life situations. With only a quarter of the students with disabilities being served with assistive technology, lack of sound education for this group denies the country a large pool of innovative talent.

Lack of emphasis on social morals in the current curriculum will also create a society full of social evils. Cheating and plagiarism in schools only helps produce half baked students. Emphasis on good grades has led to the increase in cheating and plagiarism thereby eliminating the urge for real knowledge among students. The society at large values high achievers as compared to low achievers by enabling the former to enroll in prestigious courses. Studies show that a majority of graduates require further training in order to perform duties associated with the courses they undertake. The emphasis on rote learning undermines the acquisition of the relevant skills thereby alienating learning from doing.

Debates have raged as to why students should learn subjects such as geometry and history instead of specializing in a trade at an early age. Hadjar and Christiane argue that the curriculum has been developed in manner that filters students and only allowing a few who make it to college to specialize in prestigious trades (35). This leads to waste of talent especially for those students who are unable to attain the grades required to gain college and universities admission. On the other hand, lack of diversity in talented and gifted (TAG) programs run in schools has led to widening gaps among students of diverse backgrounds. Although the government has implemented changes in the TAG programs to resemble the student bodies, meaningful gains have been minimal. Individual schools do not have an understanding of what constitutes a particular student body thereby falling short of ways of enhancing innovativeness among all students.

According to Cicek (526), nearly 60% of school dropouts will end up in prison at sometime. The school to prison pipeline mainly comprises of young black men who end up dropping out of school in order to carve out their own path. The current education system has failed in providing alternatives to students more so on a life that goes above their current circumstances. This vulnerable group requires more than a good report card in order to succeed in life. Most importantly is the belief on the impact and value of education and the relation to good citizenship. The current education system has been pushing this group into crime through the emphasis on grades and lack of trusted adults and peers to help the students make smart choices.

The US education system has also developed a culture that tolerates bad behavior in students. This has le...

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