Daily Archives: 2013/06/27

Improving Education System

Editorial Article by Jim Lantern, Norman Oklahoma, 26 June 2013

Although this is mainly about education at public schools here in the US, this might be of some interest to people in other countries. I’m seeking feedback in comments from parents with school children, teens in school, college students, people in countries other than the US, and other singles like me.

I was born in 1956 in Wichita, Kansas. There I attended elementary school for grades K through 6. Then what was known as junior high school and now known as middle school for grades 7 through 9. Then high school for grades 10 through 12. Then college at WSU in 1974, followed by KSU in 1975, and finally attended a technical school for business and computer courses 2001 to 2002. I don’t have any children, so I can only present this from my own experience. I realize much has changed since I was a student during elementary school, junior high school, and high school. Even so, I know from my experience at a technical school that not much has changed since I was a student at WSU and then KSU, except for the use of desktop computers.


Here are some of the changes I propose.

  • School for children and teens, as well as adults continuing education should be all year long.

  • School year should be January through December, instead of as is end of August or start of September to end of May followed by summer break.

  • A 1 week break every season, or otherwise described as a vacation break of 1 week once every quarter of every year.

  • Likewise, working adults with children or teens in school should get the same vacation time (paid or unpaid) of 1 week off once every quarter.

  • School week and work week should be 4 days per week, Monday through Thursday, for students, teachers, and working parents.

  • School day and work day should be 10 hours per day, 7:00am to 6:00pm, less an hour for lunch from noon to 1:00pm, for students, teachers, and working parents.

  • Each class hour should be 50 minutes, allowing a 10 minutes break between classes for students and teachers.

  • Working adults should get a 5 minutes break at the end of every hour.

  • No time off for any traditional holiday dates. As is, some holidays are celebrated on the nearest Monday to create a 3-day weekend. Celebration for all holidays should be moved to the 3 days weekend of Friday through Sunday.

In order to streamline the education system, it’s time to put an end to the old concept of a “well-rounded” education that includes subjects not needed for older teens and adults to get jobs and support themselves. That should include teens and adults attending college, who should no longer be required to take what I refer to as “junk subjects” that are not needed to be able to get a job in their chosen profession or any basic job. College majors should be reduced to include only those subjects absolutely necessary to be able to do the job or the chosen profession. Removing the unnecessary subjects will help to reduce the cost of education at all grade levels and for college. For example, very few jobs and professions require use of algebra. It should be banished from all levels of school below the college level. It should only be offered at the college levels for those majors for professions in which algebra is used. As is, it’s a huge burden to students who have difficulty with learning and understanding algebra, and will never use it in the real world of jobs they will get and profession they will pursue.

Basic education should begin in January of the year a child turns age 6. This does not mean “preschool” or the “kindergarten” year. The first year should be referred to as Level 1 instead of First Grade. Level 1 should only focus on basic subjects. Each of the following 5 subjects should be 2 hours per day (less a 10 minutes break every hour) for the 10-hour day, and completed the old paper way without use of computers…

  • Reading and Writing

  • Spelling and Vocabulary to be increased each quarter of the year

  • Basic math of adding and subtracting during Quarter 1

  • Basic math of dividing and multiplying during Quarter 2

  • Basic math of fractions during Quarter 3

  • Basic math of decimals during Quarter 4

  • Health Education and Physical Education (Gym Class) with exercise

  • Basic Common Sense * and Social Education [one hour each]

* I decided to include my new idea for a Basic Common Sense class at the start of education, because over the years I’ve noticed a significant decline in basic common sense. Children and teens engaging in dangerous and stupid activities and behavior involving bad decisions. Especially recently, to include some of the foreign college students here, who have not been properly prepared to live and attend college here in the US, as well as how to interact with citizens here. This also is to help put an end to what is known as “bully” behavior, as well as any potential of unacceptable violent behavior. Further, with that in mind, an end will come to corporal punishment of students of all ages. Corporal punishment is a contradiction and hypocrisy while teaching violence is unacceptable. However, other methods of discipline may be used to teach discipline. Education should be managed without rule by fear of punishment. Respect can be obtained by other methods. The simple rule to be taught is to treat others as you yourself want to be treated.

Level 2, the year students turn age 7, should continue above 5 basic subjects, but reduce Reading, Writing, Spelling and Vocabulary, and Basic Math to 1 hour per day instead of 2 hours per day. Health Education and Physical Education should continue 2 hours per day, but include “Introduction to Survival” to help children prepare for and survive all kinds of natural disasters, as well as giving basic First Aid. The following new 4 subjects would added for 1 hour each…

  • Introduction to Basic Science

  • Introduction to US History

  • Introduction to World History

  • Introduction to Computers and Internet (and similar access devices)

Level 3, the year students turn age 8, will be a “natural talent discovery year” with a total of 10 subjects. There may be more options than those listed here, but the students are limited to selecting 10. All students will be free to try those subjects. If a student does not like a subject or does not do well enough in it, then the student can drop the subject and and fill the hour with study time at the school for continuing the basic subjects. This will also allow time for students who did not do well during Level 1 and Level 2 to get caught up or improve grades for the basic subjects. Here are 10 examples for the 10 “natural talent discovery” subjects…

  • Arts – to try different kinds during year

  • Music – Singing and/or Musical Instruments (try different kinds during year)

  • Sports – to try different kinds during year

  • Advanced Basic Math – may include Geometry

  • Advanced Basic Science – to try different sciences during year

  • Advanced Computer and Internet (determine programming abilities)

  • Advanced Reading and Writing – expanding knowledge of literature, to include writing book reports, journalism, and creative writing

  • Basic Business and Money Management – simple models

  • Foreign Languages – Speaking and Writing (determine abilities)

  • Food Service – Cooking food, preparing meals, serving meals, and may include basic education in Agriculture for the full spectrum

Level 4, the year students turn age 9, will begin to focus on those subjects that each student has a “natural talent” for and is interested in, mainly for afternoon hours, while basic education continues during the morning hours. The goal of Level 4 is for basic education previously spread out from grades 1 to 6, ages 6 to 12, previously known as elementary school, to be completed by the end of the year a student has turned age 9 instead of age 12. Level 4 will shift students from a paper system to mainly using desktop computers, or laptop computers, or hand-held computers used for doing schoolwork.

A student with a Level 4 education will be able to do most simple jobs requiring a basic education, beginning at age 10 the following year for Level 5. Child labor laws will be changed to allow students of Level 5 at age 10 to have the option to work in apprenticeship positions during afternoons, while still taking classes during the mornings. This will continue to age 12 and Level 7, which will replace what was known as junior high school, now known as middle school.

Levels 8 through 10, ages 13 to 15, will replace what is known as high school under the streamlined system for education.

Drivers Education may be offered to students after they turn age 15, not just during the year they turn age 15, so that when they turn age 16 they will have the ability and a license to drive a car. This is an option for those students who will own a car, or have a job driving cars for businesses (such as pizza delivery).

For those who need some college for a job, a basic 2-year college degree will be obtained upon completing level 12, the year when the student turns age 17. So the 2-year college is Level 11, age 16 licensed to drive a car, through Level 12, age 17. The transition from what presently is high school to a 2-year college will be no different than the transitions from elementary school to middle school to high school. This is for the proposed new streamlined education system to make it possible for students to complete education at an earlier age when they are olde enough to drive a car.

Any additional college needed should be completed during Levels 13, 14, and 15, for ages 18, 19, and 20. This then is a 3-year college education in addition to the previous 2-year college education for more specific majors to get degrees for specific professions. This may include apprenticeships for on-the-job training to get hands-on experience.

All education should be completed so that an adult will be in a full time job during the year the adult turns age 21. Of course, adults may continue education for when they want to change professions, or when new jobs require additional education.

From Level 11 when turning age 16, students should have sponsors who will be businesses that will employ the students for apprenticeship during afternoons to get on-the-job training for hand-on experience. An end will come to getting a college education and then looking for and not finding a job. Access to college will require a future employer to sponsor the student for the chosen profession, which will help to eliminate unreasonable cost of college and debt for college.

One additional observation from my own experience. We need teachers who will actually teach the subjects, to help each student to understand and use the subjects. We do not need teachers who only hand out reading assignments, and then give tests. Anyone can do that. Doing that is not teaching. It’s just managing students. Most of the teachers I had at the public schools I attended were the kind who did minimal teaching, if any at all. I attended a private school during the summer when I was age 14, which was known as a Christian school, and was normally too expensive for my parents to send me to during the normal school years. That summer, for the first time, I had teachers who actually took the time to teach the subjects, which helped to improve my understanding of those subjects. The result of course was an improvement in my grade point average.

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