Let’s face it. Throughout the history of the public education system, there have been struggles to reconcile the ideal of the “greatest good for the greatest number,” with the procedural needs of individual students. Educators want to maximize the potential of all students, but often in this pursuit, they fall down on delivering the personal attention each student deserves.
For years now, America public education has been grappling with ideas about how to keep young people competitive in a globalizing world. Whether it was a valid notion or not, fears were that our education system was failing our children. An ambitious response came in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This rather virtuous-sounding policy marked a fundamental reform of progressive education, creating great controversy and shaking up the education system to its core. High stakes tests like the SAT and various state assessments were now considered of preeminent importance. Even district funding became determined by student performance on these tests. This was supposed to motivate schools to raise the scores of American students across the board.
Critics of No Child Left Behind often feel that in the mad push to improve test scores across the board, the qualities, special skills, or deficiencies of each student are often overlooked or outright neglected. They argue that the range of human knowledge should not be reduced to a test score or two focusing almost exclusively on math and language skills. Certainly, these skills are valuable, even indispensable. Yet the pressures schools face to implement these high-flung policy goals, coupled with the realities of class sizes and differing levels of aptitude in the classroom, have forced many schools to abandon learning for learning’s sake approaches in favor of results-oriented ones. Individuated instruction is often sacrificed in this pursuit.
Since the turn of the millennium, American education has undergone further reforms and changes, including Common Core, a policy perhaps no less controversial. The private sector has also seen opportunities to fill the achievement gaps left by public education with test prep services for SAT, ACT, GMAT, and even the GRE. These can be done online at the student’s own pace. SAT sample questions are abundant online, and various textbooks are available, which attempt to prepare students for these high stakes tests. However, what seems to be missing is personal instruction. They seem to want to resolve systemic problems by creating new systems.
Every student possesses a skill set from which they must build upon. A child’s development is not formulaic, and they often need guidance through the process of learning. Mastery of a subject does not often come all at once. Although groups like Kaplan or Khan Academy offer online programs where students can learn information at their own pace, they do not offer the kind of one-on-one instruction that many young people need to succeed. Reviewing a set of SAT sample questions, or even taking endless practice tests, will not automatically ensure that students understand how to solve these problems. Some learners are self-starters, while others need steady guidance, structure, and reassurances along the way. It is frankly difficult to find such help. Qualified people are hard to come by, and other academic services fail to provide students with the individual care they may not get in public schools.
StudyGate aims to fill this gap. Our platform allows students to connect with qualified people who can provide the personal assistance that your child deserves. The social impetus towards high-stakes aptitude tests only seems to be gaining strength as the years go on. This means that whether we like it or not, students will be measured on such criteria. In some cases, their futures will depend upon the results of these tests. The Harvard educational psychologist Jerome Bruner maintained that “any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development.” Yet proper scaffolding needed to be constructed so that developing minds can flourish. This kind of intellectual support and nourishment seems to be a missing element in the way we go about the business of education today. Connect with StudyGate and ensure that your child builds upon their capacity and overcomes the challenges set before them. Whether they need extra homework help doing their math or seek some foundational guidance on essays, science reports, or more, sometimes students just need a little personal guidance from someone with a command of the subject.
Bruner, Jerome S. The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.