I’ve previously mentioned I’ve been a high school aide for a new Middle Eastern student for two days this week. I tried to help him as much as I could, including taking notes for him in addition to pushing his wheelchair. One thing I noticed was he was frequently asking me “Is this right? Is this the right answer?”
That got me to thinking about our education system. I don’t know what’s the prevalent education philosophy of the Middle East, but I finally told him how, in our system, teachers may ask questions that have more than one right answer. In classes like English Literature, what can make something “right” is how well you explain your conclusions.
I have learned some other education systems concentrate on rote memory. For example, my brother is a professor at Virginia Tech. Once he told me the story of a graduate student from mainland China who no one wanted to work with becuase he had a reputation for being lazy. My brother investigated, and discovered the real problem was this student had never been taught to think for himself. He’d always memorized facts and followed procedures. If something deviated from what he expected, he wouldn’t know what to do and would stop working.
So despite the flaws, I think our education system does a decent job compared to the rest of the world. After all, we are a nation of free thinkers.