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The perks of US education standards: ‘’Who is Fidel Castro?’ – ‘A singer?’ “About 95% failed to name the winners and the losers in WWII”

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The perks of US education standards: ‘’Who is Fidel Castro?’ – ‘A singer?’

After graduating from American high schools, many children of wealthy Tajik, Kyrgyz and Uzbek families have failed entrance exams at universities in their home countries. English proved to be their only strong point. On every other high school subject, they had to catch up at private classes with local teachers. No great wonder, actually.

‘How many sides does a triangle have?’ – ‘Four.’ – ‘One.’ – ‘None.’ These are some of the answers given by US high school seniors in an international general knowledge test. Their counterparts in Russia, Japan and European countries did immensely better.

Most of the US seniors in the test failed to crack simple mathematical tasks. About 95% failed to name the winners and the losers in WWII. Presented with a world map, about three quarters failed to find the Persian Gulf. One in seven even failed to find the United States.

Interestingly, the American kids in the survey didn’t see their poor general knowledge as a shortcoming or a handicap. They even took pride in it as a uniquely American feature and part of the American way of life.

We have an opinion from an independent Tajik-based educationalist, Dr Rustam Babadjanov:

“Unlike American schools, which rely on cramming, Russian schools, of which we have a good many in Tajikistan, teach their students how to think and analyze problems. Mediocre academic performers from Tajik schools often win statewide knowledge contests in the US. Conversely, Tajik kids educated at American high schools encounter difficulties entering universities at home. Indeed, our university admission criteria are similar to the ones in Russia.”

According to American educationalists, the problem with the American schools is not funding, but ‘the cafeteria system’ in which a high school student is only supposed to take classes in English, US history and PE as his or her obligatory subjects.

Putting together the rest of the curriculum is up to the student. The choice is between applied disciplines like personal hygiene, cosmetics, preservation and canning of food products, consumer mathematics, household economics, driving and home health care.

American university education builds little if anything on the general knowledge base acquired by high school leavers. The following is a fragment from a general knowledge survey carried out among university-educated American adults:

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American politicians are no exception. George W.Bush, who was America’s 43rd President, is remembered, among other things, for his ‘bushisms’ – awkward pronouncements containing ridiculous stylistic, grammatical and factual errors. About 12 hundred of them are now in seven books.

In former Soviet Central Asia, well-to-do families are now looking to Russian and European schools and universities to educate their young.

Dr Babadjanov again:

“Russia and European countries retain the time-tested traditional approach to education. There are good universities in Britain, France, Germany and, naturally, Russia.”

In the US, meanwhile, debate about overhauling America’s education system is picking up.

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_12/The-perks-of-US-education-standards-Who-is-Fidel-Castro-A-singer-1747/

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