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"Our system of education" - issue of concern and its importance to you - Common App


Cyph0n 2 / 4  
Nov 6, 2010   #1
I'm not sure whether my essay answers the prompt adequately, so I was wondering if anyone could tell me if it doesn't.

The essay is around 1,400 words long, and I couldn't make it shorter because of the nature of the topic, if I understood it correctly, that is.

Topic: Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

Response:

Our world - Planet Earth, as we like to call it - is ridden with countless problems and mishaps, most of which are caused by us humans. These issues range from matters such as wars, poverty, disease and racism. Most, if not all, of these issues cannot be overcome in a single day. So, we must start working from now, even as individuals - at least to slow down the course of these calamities and find out how to control them, or better yet, stop them in their paths. Of course, not all issues are of great importance; some are more significant than others. Such difficulties are what I, and many others, refer to as 'hot topics'. Among these topics, I personally regard education as one of the most important problems of this time. Unfortunately, the level of education has been declining for a pretty long time. However, since we've been busy doing who-knows-what, we've failed to notice this depression and let it reach the point of (almost) no return. Don't fret, though - there still is hope. We can beat this problem if we work together, but before doing that we must pinpoint what the causes of this decline are. As is the case with many other crucial matters, several factors lie behind the waning in our system of education.

Firstly, let us begin with the factor that causes the most impact on education - mainstream entertainment. Now, you may be asking - what do I mean by 'entertainment'? The entertainment I'm referring to consists of three main branches, in a descending order of impact: games, music and movies. Try asking a student these days about any one of the above, or better yet, try having an informal conversation with him/her about either one of them. You'll be surprised at what he or she knows. Actually, the student would be happy to yap about either one for the whole day, if possible. On the other hand, try asking the same student about what he/she learned at school or which subject he/she despises the most. In most scenarios, you'll get the replies "I don't remember" and "Mathematics"; respectively. So, what does this mean? Is this bad? Well, simply put, it means our future is in the hands of a bunch of game and music addicts who hate mathematics, a subject that happens to be the core of most professions.

Secondly, these days, most children and teenagers find reading books an extremely boring pastime in comparison with playing a game or listening to some music. This decline in reading makes students less informed about the world around them and, consequently, makes them partially ignorant people. Of course, if you asked them on which day a certain actor was born, they would be glad to answer. But let's look at the bright side for a moment - what about the people who do read? Well, most of these people, even though they are low in number, prefer reading books or acquiring information in a digital format. With the rise of iPads, Kindles, Nooks and similar gadgets, people are now moving further and further away from the traditional reading medium. I am well aware that this is not entirely a bad thing, but I believe books are superior, especially because of the fact that they are a lot more tangible. You can feel a book, hold a book, place it on a shelf once you're done with it, and even take whiff of its papery odor. On the other hand, when you have a whole collection of "e-books" in a small and fragile digital device, it doesn't even remotely feel genuine - it feels more like you possess a bunch of fake books. Although it may be true that these modern devices provide a whole lot more portability and are home to options that can be extremely useful at times, we cannot ignore the fact that information began in the form of books, and as such, we should at least try to read a "real" book from time to time.

Lastly, school curriculums and, more importantly, teachers are not the same as they were before. If you take a look at how education was like at the beginning of the 20th century, you'd be surprised at the difference. For instance, according to Thomas Sowell's book Inside American Education: The Decline, the Deception, the Dogmas, around that time, students finishing the 8th grade studied vocabulary words such as "elucidation" and "panegyric". In addition to extremely difficult vocabulary words, they were obliged to study arithmetic problems way above their age-level. Nowadays, the aforementioned words aren't even included in 12th grade vocabulary. Furthermore, according to studies conducted in the 1980s, the lowest SAT, ACT and GRE scores in the United States were, and still are, held by teachers. From this piece of information, we can deduce that teachers are usually the people who didn't, or more likely couldn't, do well academically. So if an increasing proportion of the people who teach us lack intelligence, won't most students turn out like their mentors? To find out, let us consider an average student who plays games, hates reading and expanding his/her knowledge, and is taught how to think by a person who most likely has no goals in place for his teaching career. How do you think this student's future will be like? Will it be an ambitious life full of success and excellence? Or will it be just an average life with nothing unique about it?

We now know the main factors that led to this ever-worsening issue, so we can start looking at ways to avoid them. First and foremost, we have to control how much entertainment our children consume, especially at the beginning of their lifetime. We also have to make sure not to go to the other extreme: completely restricting children from these types of gadgets/games. So there has to be a certain level of freedom. Otherwise, if we completely banned children from gadgets during their youth, they would eventually find out and become more obsessed with them later in life. Thus, we should try to use the method of replacement; for example, instead of giving children a violent and addictive game to play, we could give them one which is a lot more conservative.

Secondly, we have to make our children fall in love with books and encourage their reading them. There are many ways to achieve this, including reading stories to them before going to bed and regularly buying them books to keep them busy. I cannot emphasize enough on the fact that this should all be accomplished during the early stage of a child's lifetime. Why? Because later on in the child's life, external influences, such as 'cool' friends, cause the child to detest books and never really regard them as crucial parts of education. I know this as a fact because I've witnessed it happening first-hand.

Finally, we have to demand certain qualities in the teachers that teach our children and the books that are used to teach them. For instance, there should be more hands-on work with children of all ages, and the requirements to become a teacher should be a bit more challenging. This way, people will not become teachers unless they're motivated enough and are worthy of carrying the weight of the next generation on their shoulders. Furthermore, curriculums should be intensified and should cover basic and advanced topics alike. Instead of making students memorize mathematical formulas, books should show them how these formulas were thought of in the first place. This can help students understand the formula, rather than show them how to blindly plug values into it. Variations of this technique can and should be applied to other subjects as well, and not only in mathematics.

Hopefully, you're now a bit more aware of how much down the line the educational system has gone over the past couple of years, and have a basic understanding of the key factors that caused it. Always remember - if each one of us works on solving this problem and spreads the message to other people, we can definitely emerge from this struggle with a triumphant smile on our faces and the cozy feeling that we made a step in the right direction for the future of mankind. Truth be told, it is definitely not an easy fight to win, but by arming ourselves with persistence and knowledge, victory will be a lot easier to accomplish.

sonnofali 3 / 7  
Nov 13, 2010   #2
However, since we've been busy doing who-knows-what, we've failed to notice this depression and let it reach the point of (almost) no return.

failed...let--fix parallelism.

Now, you may be asking - what do I mean by 'entertainment'?

I feel this is unnecessary. I, personally, was not asking that...but maybe others will? I'm not sure.

I suggest making the introduction a little more interesting and descriptive so that the reader will want to read it. Because it is a lengthy essay, you want to maintain your reader's interest early on. Try to create a thesis so that your reader knows exactly what your point is in writing the essay. Make clear what point you are trying to make because right now, I only know that you don't like the educational system. Aside from that, the writing is quite strong. Just work on making your main point more clear and you should be good!

Also, did you answer the "Discuss...its importance to you" part of the prompt? Go back and make that more clear if you did. I did not see it. Maybe connect it to something more personal?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Nov 14, 2010   #3
Our world - Planet Earth, as we like to call it - is ridden with countless problems and mishaps, most of which are caused by us humans. ----This is a nicely written sentence, but it is a statement of the obvious. Everyone already knows this, and if you say it at the beginning the reader's attention shuts off.

hese issues range from matters such as wars, poverty, disease and racism. Most, if not all, of these issues cannot be overcom.... difficulties are what I, and many others, refer to as 'hot topics'. Among these topics, ---All of this is unnecessary. You should get right to talking about education.

I agree with you!! Education can solve all problems by influencing the next generation and empowering them to be peaceful and tolerant.

Unfortunately, the level of education has been declining for a pretty long time. ----where? I thought it was getting better from one century to the next.

I like your discussion of the way entertainment undermines education.

Here is another claim that I think you cannot really substantiate: Lastly, school curriculums and, more importantly, teachers are not the same as they were before.

Oh, I see that I was wrong! Okay, if you cite a source like this, it is a stronger argument!! ---->according to Thomas Sowell's book Inside American Education: The Decline, the Deception, the Dogmas, around that time, students

Hopefully, you're now a bit more aware of how I think this part is a bad idea... too presumptuous.
I like your writing style a lot!! You must have worked very hard on this. You covered a lot of topics, and if they require you to stay within a word limit I guess you will need to omit some topics... but this is very impressive!


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