Quenby Wilcox
Posted September 9, 2009 from United States

“In order to mean what one says, one must learn to say what one means."Reginald Johnston (Teacher) “Here, they tell me what I must say,” Pu-Yi (the Emperor) from the film the “The Last Emperor.” (Exact quotes?)

While it is true that statistically, Americans show slightly lower average scores in math and reading skills than their European and Asian counterparts, American participation rates in all levels of schooling has always been consistently higher than others. Therefore, if you factor in the higher participation, notably of the lower socio-economic classes, the difference in scores becomes less significant.

Now doesn’t all of this stats mumbo-jumbo sometimes make us forget that we are dealing with live human beings, and namely they are our children?

In all societies I hear the same thing; those who do well academically are not always those who do well later in life, so shouldn’t we be trying to figure out exactly what we can teach our kids so that they may succeed in their personal and professional lives, rather than obsessing over academic excellence.

So apart from teaching our children to identify and develop their talents, something we fail all too often to do. Educators and parents should look towards developing traits that assist us in our daily lives.

Personally, the traits which I have found the most useful and beneficial, and which I (with as much patience as I can muster) am trying to teach my children, are the following:

  • capacity to think, and think logically;
  • capacity to re-think, and re-think again;
  • capacity to recognize ones errors, and even more importantly, to be able to learn by those errors;
  • capacity to listen;
  • capacity to work with others;
  • capacity to work on your own;
  • capacity to follow instructions;
  • capacity to express oneself coherently and concisely;
  • capacity to organize oneself and others;
  • capacity to prioritize
  • and, eat well, sleep well, and participate in at least one sports activity; mens sana in corpore sano.

Unfortunately, all too often in my children’s school I have heard a variety of comments that makes one question the capacity of teaching the aforementioned. One was when I heard a teacher say “the children need to work without making errors!”

Now, shouldn’t we be teaching our kids to learn from their errors rather than suppress and deny them? All of our educational systems too often teach our children to be afraid of making mistakes rather than learning from them. One of the best ways to assure failure, is not to try in the first place. So wouldn’t a more appropriate dialogue to our children be “learn to identify and learn from your errors?”

I do understand the frustrations of educators over problems in our schools and societies created by unconcerned parents, unfortunately on the flip side their still exists antiquated and archaic pedagogical teaching methods in our educational systems, and if we ever hope to raise “successful” children, great effort is needed from both sides.

Additionally, I believe that many of the educational systems that exist could learn and profit from cross-educational studies. For example, science in primary and secondary schools in the British system is (or was) divided into three sections, the French in to two, and the Americans into one; personally, I think that the British system is (or was) the most comprehensive. However, in terms of math; in the American system algebra, geometry and any calculus are separated into various years, while in the British and French they are mixed up over a number of years. Personally, I think the American system works better in this case.

And, sadly I believe none of these systems are comprehensively or consistently teaching students to effectively think or express themselves, verbally or in writing, something which I feel is much more useful and important in life than learning calculus.

One of my objectives in creating the interactive portion of this website was to provide a platform and discussion on educational and health care systems worldwide, and thereby perhaps come up with ones that works better than any that we have at present. On these two subjects I have found enormous amounts of information from a “macro” or statistical stand-point, however, their seems to be very few studies or information from the “micro” side, and hope that you will participate in our forums on these and other subjects.

Quenby Wilcox – Fall 2006

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