Saturday, October 29, 2011

Education, American Style - A Student Voice from 1958

In researching for an eventual book I plan to publish on the history of the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools and surrounding community, I came across an essay in the October 30, 1958 student newspaper that upon reading it, gave me a feeling of deja vu.

If you're not an intellectual person you might as well skip this editorial. For those of you who wish to continue, I hope this article will strengthen your belief in the American Educational System.
 
Largely responsible for the intensity of the recent reappraisal of U.S. Schools are the latest scientific acheivements (sic) in science and technology made by the Soviet Union since the successful firing of Sputnik last year.
 
"The Soviet system provides a standard curriculum through grade 7. On completion of grade 7, Soviet children are subjected to rigorous testing and screening. Those who show academic promise go on to regular secondary schools. Those who have not done so well academically are directed into one of a number of specialized programs: factory schools, special vocational schools, semi-professional schools."
 
In our democratic society we hold "opportunity for the youth" as one of the chief purposes of education. To obtain a comprehensive education is every young person's inalianable (sic) right. Surprisingly enough, the concept of "life adjustment" around which our present educational policy is centered, did not come about until after the close of the Second World War. The aim, therefore, is to provide in a single school all the educational needs of all youth in a community.
 
When people say our schools have failed, how then do they explain the high patriotic, military and economic status that exists in the United States at the present time?

by Nancy Graeber
Lee High School Ariel