Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Death and Life of the Great American School System ...by Diane Ravitch

This took a real while to complete because it's non-fiction. But I wouldn't call it a dry book because i found it to be rather educational. What got be interested was a review of it I read somewhere; one of those educational articles that I read from one of my news aggregator.

The American education system used to be good and admired by many. Many of the world.s top universities can be found in America. But like everything else around, we always feel that reform is needed after some time; even for tried and tested ones.

The author was one of those who embraced the reforms enthusiastically but somehow changed her mind. I like her candidness, and willingness to admit that perhaps the reforms they instituted may not have been the. As the business success got into everyone's heads, we begin to feel that the business model can be applied to education. Statistics and data become the yardstick of success.

The problem with data is, once we begin to use it as a yardstick, it makes us lose sight of what education should be. We forget that there is more to education than just making sure that students can answer the questions and score. We forget that attitude shaping is also important. We forget that attitude plays a more important role in getting us ready for a useful life; to have good character and able to make sound decisions that benefit self and community. We forget to prepare them to face life's trials and tribulations with humor and courage. We forget to stress on the importance of compassion.

These days, even in Malaysia, we moan the lack of so much in our graduates, yet also fail to see that our system of squeezing as many A(s) by filling up our children's time with tuitions, extra classes and every filled minute of worthwhile work. We are getting students with better scores, better overall passing percentages in public and school exams. Yet many of us feel that something is still amiss.

This book invites us to ponder about such things after bringing us through the reforms that America's education system has been put through; by the politicians, philanthropists, business lobby groups and individuals. Teaching or rather education is often more than just imparting knowledge. It's the inculcating of good habits, the teaching of writing skills which very often make us think, of literature which seems to provide us with that little bit of reminder or even encouragement in times of turmoil and joys; the abilities to express them as a form of release.

An academic research but a worthwhile read. Recommended for those who want to understand our own system cos there are many similarities one can draw from here. The author is a historian and gives a good historical perspective. In that perspective and outline, we should be able to learn from the mistakes made too.

Book 15.

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