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Quality Education: A Very Rare System

Quality Education. It seems like a simple term. I asked a lot of people one seemingly simple question, and if I asked you, I bet I would get the same response. I asked, “Do you think you receive a quality education?” I bet it was a quick “yes or no” answer. It is one of those questions where your instincts take over in answering. Generally in today’s society, there is a very basic system to determining if you receive a quality education, and that is usually if you go to a public or private school. However, there are mini categories in each of those areas of schooling. Public and private schools alike have “rivals” that they compete with. It has been drilled into our brains that schools’ SAT, PSAT, ACT, etc. scores is the number one most important element in proving a certain school offers a higher quality of education. However, education is anything but simplistic, so I knew the reasons behind a quality education must be much more than a one dimensional, statistics on a piece-of-paper answer. I decided to ask different members of my community how they defined a quality education. I made them think past the initial robot-like answers, and once they overcame the barriers this one dimensional answer became a galaxy with infinite dimensions.

 

I am getting ahead of myself. I should tell you where this passion for education started from.

This is me (and my dog, Pickles):

My name is Sarah and I am currently a sophomore in high school. I came from a poor neighborhood in Waterbury, Connecticut with a school system that, lets just say, wasn’t the greatest. However, after seeing my parents face never ending financial instability, I knew that when they said those nagging parent phrases like “Finish your homework before you watch TV” or “Don’t forget to study for that math test!” they weren’t just saying it to say it. It was crucial to focus on my education so one day I can have a well-paying career and make them proud. By the time high school rolled around my hard work payed off and I was accepted into one of the highest ranked private high schools in the United States, The Taft School, on a scholarship.  I started here:

 

And now I’m here:

 

Even though I went to a public school and a private school, I realized there was good and bad qualities about both. This is where I started my interest in what exactly is a quality education. I realized I needed a base to start my project, so I decided to take my favorite aspects of both school systems and use that to make my initial definition of a quality education–

I define quality education as being in an environment where inside the classroom you learn efficiently by passionate and intelligent teachers, and outside the classroom are inspired by the community to be passionate about learning, school, working with peers, and also with extra curricular activities. I think quality education is more than just what grades you receive on standardized tests. Its about the atmosphere. Quality education also involves what is outside of school, such as sports, music, art, clubs, etc.  Overall, we need to give kids more chances to express their interests instead of following a step by step instruction guide. This supports the idea about having public college. More people would be able to further their education, and whats even better is college is the time to learn what interests you. The fact that in college you can choose your own path supports the idea that college in itself is quality education, which why we need to work toward public college so all people of all backgrounds can have one final chance in receiving a quality education.

The more I wrote the more passionate I became, and by the end I was able to connect the dots and add another interest of mine, public college, into my definition. Instead of just listing others’ responses and spewing different facts at you about education, I made this video that will hopefully give you enough information to inspire you to establish your own opinions for quality education. Enjoy!

So, how do YOU define a quality education? Feel free to add your response. Remember, defining what a quality education is the first step to achieving it in your school and schools around the world.

 

 

 

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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 27, 2017 by Susan Fine

    Hi Sarah — great question! And, you touch on so many topics in your presentation. I actually find that it’s wonderfully hard to generalize about schools, public or private, because there’s enormous diversity within each of those vast categories. One of the large differences between independent schools and public schools is their relationship to the state and the federal government. However, charter schools now have some of the qualities of independent schools in that while they are public schools, they are usually site-based managed, rather than being run by a district. That said, there’s good diversity within charter schools, both in terms of their quality and in regards to how they’re managed. One thing that does stand out to me in the American educational system is the vast inequality. Can you imagine what the country would be like if every child had access to a school like Taft? I also appreciated how you talked about all the different parts of a quality education. I agree with you and often see how much people learn on teams, through the arts, through volunteer work, and summer programs. Further, now that we have endless access to information, we can all sit down and learn all kinds of things on our own; however, that makes me think that a quality education is one that teaches people how to learn, leads them to become independent learners and problem solvers, and so sets them up for lifelong learning that they can pursue in multiple ways, including entirely on their own. I’m hoping that you are thinking about a career in education! As you now know, there are enormous needs for excellent teachers as well as people filling many other roles in the enormous education sector. Many thanks for your work on this project!

  2. April 29, 2017 by Emily B

    Getting a quality education can be so tough, especially where socioeconomics can get involved. My mother is a teacher for social studies English language learners, and that brings up a whole host of issues. How does one get a quality education or even pay attention when one can barely speak the language, and how does a teacher give each student the education they need when they have fifty other students to be worrying about?

  3. April 30, 2017 by Jesús Maldonado Treviño

    I did a project on public education in Mexico this year and I really like how you defined quality. It’s time to go beyond statistics and quantitative measures as sometimes those aren’t the ones that matter the most. What struggles did you go through while trying to define it? What other aspects did you consider for quality of education?

    • May 02, 2017 by Sarah

      Hi! I’m really glad you enjoyed my presentation. I 100 percent agree that we need to go beyond quantitative measures, because everything has quantitative AND qualitative properties. Some struggles I found was just finding a way to narrow in on some key ideas because i talked to a lot of people and got a lot of different answers. I had to find the common threads between them and that is what my focus was.

      Also, I was considering focusing more on college and beyond rather than high school by showing statistics about how the college you go to affects the rest of your life. However, when I thought about it I thought it would be better to focus on high school because my classmates and I have real first hand experiences and opinions, so to me that seemed like a much more genuine approach.

      Thanks again for your feedback!

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