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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2009 8:57 PM PDT external image carrot._V47081519_.gif says: I disagree with the premise that longer school days will miraculously restore our school system. If you look at international rankings such as the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), you will notice the country of Finland at the very top for academic excellence. Their school days are shorter than ours (8am to 1pm or 10am to 4pm, depending on personal choice, with 15min breaks between classes, and 30min for lunch). There are also other countries with large immigrant populations who are at the top of the rankings as well (Some statistics for those uncultured individuals who think immigrants are the problem with everything going wrong in America).

The main problem with our schools is that our curriculum is too simplistic and not challenging enough. It's been watered-down considerably throughout the decades. Besides it being weak, the method of instruction is based solely on preparing students to pass national exams. I look at it from the perspective of someone who went to school abroad (Brazil) and then experienced the US school system at the age of 15. I was surprised when I noticed that teachers were lecturing on things that I'd learned back when I was 12. Biology classes were too basic, math was a joke, honors classes involved nothing of value besides extra-homework. I was finally exposed to something new when I took an AP Psych class, but by then I was so tired of school, with all the repetition I had to sit through; I couldn't wait to be released from that prison. The day I graduated was the best day of my life, I truly saw that as my release date.

Back in high school, I recall no need to study all three main sciences (biology, physics, and chemistry) or take calculus and geography in order to graduate (all of which are mandatory in other parts of the world). I saw American-born kids graduate without knowing how to spell properly in their native language, not knowing how to point where "Vietnam" is on a map, or even know what GDP is. I think we should all look outside the American bubble and pay attention to what other countries are doing right. We live in a globalized world and we should collaborate with other (successful) systems and learn through exchange.

Our schools are great at sports and fun extra-curricular activities, but when it comes to true academics we are not lacking because of the quality of our students (as some of you have suggested - which to me, sounds like a business who blames its poor performance on the customers it fails to properly serve); we are failing because of our mind-numbing standard curriculum, the lack of belief in our students' potential, and poor methods of instruction.


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