Tag Archives: Education

The U.S. Education System: Reinforcing Ignorance

I just read an article talking about a new Arizona law banning Ethnic Studies classes in the public school system, particularly “Mexican-American Studies.” This kind of parallels to Utah’s failed attempt to ban sex education in primary education during this past legislative session. And it kind of also reminds me of that 1925 Scopes Trial when that high school teacher was tried for teaching evolution to his students.

The notion of schools intentionally excluding so-called ‘controversial topics’ from their curriculums sort of worries me. In a perfect world like North Korea, I guess you could say things are ‘peaceful’ when ideas are controlled and manipulated in such a way that ensures that everyone sees things the exact same way. If everyone had perfect access to the exact same information and formed the exact same opinions, there will be no room for disagreement or conflict. In theory, this is nice, but the real world isn’t like that.

The reasons behind laws like the one in Arizona and the attempt in Utah are that students shouldn’t be exposed to those types of information in school because that’s how they get ideas. Educators in Arizona believed that the radical ideas of Mexican youth to ‘rise up against the White man’ originate in their own classrooms and then influence their ‘troublesome’ behavior. Educators in Utah felt that sex education exposed them to unnecessary information that actually makes them curious and leads to increasing teen pregnancy rates.

I think that it’s more important for students to be aware of this type of information rather than sheltered from it. It can’t be proven that this information will inhibit behavior our society is trying to control, but it can’t be proven that it encourages it either. There are so many different forces that influence a person’s way of thinking and the actions that result from them, but cutting access to essential information really makes no difference. If anything, it hurts the child and makes them more ignorant like the rest of the country.

Growing up in Utah, I feel like I learned more from people’s Facebook statuses than in school. It’s so embarrassing that a lot of kids in my generation knew nothing about the LRA until the Kony 2012 movement on the internet. It’s also humiliating that kids my age don’t care about politics until it’s posted on Facebook or Twitter, including the SOPA and PIPA legislation.

Reinforcing ignorance in future generations isn’t going to help this country move forward. I don’t know why our culture is so terrified of new ideas and calls them ‘radical.’ People need to understand that progress can only happen if kids are encouraged to have an open mind. New ideas should be inspired while they are in school so that they can make positive use of those ideas; if they have to learn about new things from outside sources, it might be taken to mean that those ideas are bad and may then lead to deviant behavior. But if new ideas are taught carefully, thoroughly and properly in a classroom setting, the information will be given to the student in a way that won’t be harmful to their learning and to society as a whole.

Obviously, I don’t have a Ph.D in child development, but this is just what I think.

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On Education.

Utah is ranked 51st in the nation in education – dead last.

Because of the type of culture Utah has, our young population is growing at an enormous, almost unsustainable rate (kind of like federal entitlement spending, eh?), and this is why we have the largest class sizes in the nation. Large class sizes make it difficult for teachers to provide adequate instruction to each student, and this is reflected in our standardized exams. This problem is prevalent at all levels of public education – elementary, secondary and higher ed.

This really bothers me. Education has always been very important to me. I’ve always worked my hardest to excel in every subject, and I probably got so used to being an “over-achiever” that now that I’ve been thrown into the harsh, cruel nature of the real world, I’ve been really negative about myself and my mind’s been full of self-defeating thoughts. Anyhow, I promised myself this wouldn’t be another personal post, so I’ll push that thought aside.

Now education may not be as important to some people as it is to me, and that’s completely fine. But I think there needs to be more efforts to better the education system in Utah to support the growing population.

One of the things that is really frustrating me is the growing costs of tuition – and for what? My first semester at the U was $1500 for 12 credits. I was able to finish my degree in three years, and my last semester was $3200 for 12 credits – Jesus Christ. I was lucky to have scholarships and reimbursement benefits to cover my tuition costs, but increasing tuition prices become a huge barrier to entry for a lot of students. This is something that needs to be dealt with, because I think it’s really sad when kids who want to college can’t do so just because they can’t afford it. I would be more understanding if I knew this money was being invested in a positive way, but sometimes I feel skeptical.

The University of Utah has some exciting projects being built or close to completion. This includes the new Nursing building, and the other is that new fancy-schmancy business building, the name of which I don’t remember. These are really cool projects, but it frustrates me because they costs hundreds of millions of dollars. What’s going to happen to all the older buildings? There are already plenty of buildings on campus that have plenty of unused rooms at any given time where classes can be held, but they remain empty and unused and money is being used to build all these new buildings.

I just feel like it would be wiser to maybe renovate the older ones to cut costs, or else at least consider expanding the faculty so that they can accordingly increase class availability as well. I remember how frustrating it was to be unable to get into a class I needed because it was full, or to have such an inflexible and inconvenient schedule because that’s the only way I could get my classes I needed to fit together.

While a lot of my discussion involved higher education, it is still just as important to strengthen the education system at the primary and secondary levels as well. Another big hindrance to a quality education is resources. Schools should have enough textbooks for students along with computers and other tools essential for their academic enrichment. Programs should be put in place to give students an incentive to excel and actually have an interest in school. And the teachers should be just as motivated as the students to set goals and work toward them.

If there’s area I would like to ask the Utah state government to spend more in, it would be in education. It’s not just about the spending though – education reform should be closely overseen by the right people to ensure efficiency and in making sure the money is being spent in the right places. Utah really needs a better education system and it’s humiliating that our state has the poorest rated education system in the United States. The economy is doing well in Utah, but that may not be the case for my generation if our education remains as crippled as it is now. I know that a greater emphasis on the importance of education would be an investment that would yield benefits for everyone in the state in ways that we will never know unless things change.

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