Are they pushing elementary school students a bit to hard in the U.S. today?

I’m in my 40’s and it seems like my kids have had to learn much more advanced academics in much lower grades than when I was in school. It seems that they have to put much more time and effort into school, after school hours than when I was young also. And I have to put in much more effort with helping them succeed than my parents ever did. Which is one of my main points. My parents never had to help me after school but it seems I constantly have to help my kids and they don’t get it very well because I am far from being a teacher. I don’t think I started having to do homework until at least 3rd grade, yet my kids started having homework in Kindergarten. I’m just interested in hearing some other peoples views. I posted it under moral because if we are pushing them to hard, I feel it is a moral problem or topic.

They have to push them harder, they’ve crammed so much into the K-12 curriculum that doesn’t belong that they have to introduce complex subjects earlier and earlier.

K-8 should be good fundamental skills. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, basic Science, History, and study and research skills.

9-12 should build upon that foundation with more advanced exercises.

Instead they throw in evolution, sex education, and a bunch of other topics that should wait until college level before they are broached.

Because our education system is so much further behind other countries, I would say that we need to push harder.

Can you give any facts to back up the statement that we are so far behind other countries? When I hear statements like that I would like to see proof,because I find it hard to believe. I’ve heard statements stating that so many other countries are so much farther ahead my whole life and I really haven’t seen the results. I’ve always heard that the Chinese were so much smarter yet their technologies and products don’t seem so much better. I’ve heard the same type of comparisons about the Japanese and about India. Yet I don’t see so much proof other than Japanese electronics, and I don’t doubt that our electronics would be just as advanced if people would be willing to pay a bit more for the labor involved. I also heard the stories of how the Russians and East Germans were so much more advanced yet their countries have collapsed. Just some thoughts, I would like to see some proof to back the statement that we are not as advanced as others. Thank you.

Can anybody remember when they were taught cursive/handwritng, multiplication, division, long division, or any other particular subjects? Can you remeber what grade you were in? How long ago was that?

Off the top of my head I can remember that we were taught handwriting in 3rd grade in the early 1970's. That is also when we were first expected to start doing homework.

i voted no for 2 reasons.

  1. from K-12 i never studied once never took a book home nothing and got all As and 95% on SATs, i think its too easy a standard

  2. do some research, its not too easy but find what the 8th grade curiclum and old tests were from the 1880s to 1900. it is suprising how much they expected then, especially when you compare what they wanted to their total knowledge base.

I’m not American but I learned cursive handwriting in second grade, multipication and division were also second grade but long division was 3rd grade. Fractions were in 3rd and 4th grade, basic statistics (average, mean) 5th grade, then we started “sets” and very basic algebra and geometry in 6th grade. Third grade we studied local geography and history. More detailed national geography in 4th and 5th grade and we started international history/geography in 6th. We learned 2 languages from age 4 (Irish and English).
We got homework from age 5 or 6 onwards - about 20 minutes in the lower grades but increasing to about 45-1hour by 6th grade. I remember having “reading” homework in Irish and English, sums and spelling (Irish and English) in 1st grade.
The only reason I remember all this is we cleared out the loft when I was last home and found lots of our old school books and exercise books.

The National Education Commission on Time and Learning found that most American students spend less than half their day actually studying academic subjects. The commission’s two-year study found that American students spent only about 41 percent of the school day on basic academics. Their schedules consist with course work in self-esteem, personal safety, AIDS education, family life, consumer training, driver’s ed, holistic health, and gym, the typical American high school student spends only 1,460 hours on subjects like math, science, and history during their four years in high schools. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Japan will spend 3,170 hours on basic subjects, students in France will spend 3,280 on academics, while students in Germany will spend 3,528 hours studying such subjects - nearly three times the hours devoted in American schools.

According to the National Research Council, average students in other industrialized countries are as proficient in mathematics as America’s best students. The Second International Mathematics Study found that the “performance of the top 5 percent of U.S. students is matched by the top 50 percent of students in Japan.” When the very best American students - the top one percent - are measured against the best students of other countries, America’s students finished at the bottom .

Here are the average IQ’s by country:

    • Hong Kong (107) [though not a country, I think that the city itself is worth putting on here]
      #1 - South Korea (106)
      #2 - Japan (105)
      #3 - Taiwan (104)

#11 - China (100)
#17 - USA (98)

Within the next 50 years, it is estimated that American will have to import technicians.

There are a lot of causes for this drop in education. Finances has become a real problem. How people can think that the first place they can cut expenses is in education. Teachers are underpaid, and schools are underfunded. The Federal government intervening also doesn’t help, and because of such tests as the SAT, students aren’t taught but they are rather “taught to the test”, meaning they just get the surface of what they need to know to pass things like the SAT and CRCT while not going very far in depth. The long summers also don’t help.

I don’t know what the kids are doing today-since I don’t have any-but I can tell you that we were worked pretty hard at my school back in the early 70’s. Of course, this was not a public school-it was Catholic and we still had a good number of Sisters teaching.

We had homework every night, starting with little worksheets in Kindergarten and working up to 2 and 3 hours a night in 6th through 8th grades. We had all the regular elementary subjects-math, reading, science, history-plus we had religion. There were no excuses, you were prepared for the class or you weren’t, and Mommy and Daddy didn’t bail you out. The worst punishment was being sent to Sister Philomena’s office to call your parents to tell them you would be staying after school because you didn’t do homework, forgot class materials-or worse yet-acted out in class. The only thing my parents did regarding homework was check that it was done, they didn’t correct it. If I needed materials for a project, of course they got them for me, but I was expected to do the work myself. I think though, that our homework was more traditional than in the publics, we did math problems, diagrammed sentences and wrote reports. I know some of the kids in my neighborhood were doing more arts and crafts kind of things which took more parental effort.

As a partial answer to your questions, I proffer that other cultures put much more emphasis on education than we do in this country. Many do not cater to every student, but to those most able to learn. We have dumbed down our educational system in order that no one fail. And we seem to have taken out the competition that other systems foster.

With the exception of the languages, that is very much like what I had. I went to Catholic school starting in 1967.



Thank you for your responses. My daughters are in Catholic school. 2nd and 4th grades. They tell me that it is the state that says how much needs to be learned.

I have a stepson in 7th grade in a special program for kids who don't take well to the classroom.  I think he is in the program because he (and alot of other kids) have been pushed pretty hard.  He's good at music and is very talented but he has never been good at acedemics or things he is not into.  He is in a program run by a Psychiatrist. He and probably alot of the other kids there don't keep up with the rest of the class, so it seems that today's 'answer" is to medicate them.  My personal opinion is that it is a cop out on the school district's part.  And there is alot of money to be exchanged in paying for pills. They seem to think that pills are the answer. They tell us "nicely" that he is depressed and pills would help.  I went to school with alot of kids who were like him. As a matter of fact, I was probably similar to him but none of us were medicated to "fix" the problem.  My wife has been on some of these medicines since a teenager and I see the damage it has done to her and will not give the school permission to medicate him.  He (and I feel the other kids) is too young to start becoming reliant on pills to make it through life.  They just had the kids repeat the year even if they repeated it twice.  I think they move too fast from topic to topic, only skimming over things that need to be thoroghly understood.

I’m kind of posting this to vent some frustration. I had to take a sick day last night to make sure my daughter’s know what they need to know to pass their final exams this week. And I feel like I have to re-teach them everything even though they have afterschool tutors and extra in-school help. I have been working 12-14 hour days the last 3 weeks and have to play schoolteacher at night. Last night it took 5 hours for my daughters to thoroghly know what is needed to pass. They need good grades on some of their exams to pass the year.

 My daughters go to catholic school and the teachers are great although I think there are too many exrta curricular or special days in which academics aren't involved.  I also don't think that they have enough time in the day and the year to teach all that the state requires.  Therefore I think alot is left to the parents and if you have to work alot of hours the children can't keep up very easily.

I think alot of time should be spent on basics such as reading and writing and basic math which is necessary to run a household.  But I think too nuch time is spent teaching things that children will only use to pass one particular exam, never to be used again.  I keep thinking, why am I teaching this stuff?   I never needed it and they probably never will either.  Why am I getting so stressed over things that are required now but may never be used again in life? --------because if they stuggle they run the risk of running the route of my stepson and ending up on one of the small busses for special education and to be put through more pressure to put them all in special classes with more special pills waiting to be pushed.------just because they won't learn things that will never be used in there life.

What kind of things is it that they are learning that isn’t necessary? A lot of schools teach “to the test”. With how our education system is set up, thanks to the Federal government, what decides whether a school survives or not is dependant upon those tests and how the students do (one cannot blame the teachers for teaching to the test, because if they don’t they get fired). Because of this, there are many things that teachers have to teach and that are on the test that don’t matter. At the same time, however, there are many things that seem like they don’t matter and you will never use again but is, in fact, important to one’s education. For example, when I was in Calculus there were many things that I thought I would never use again, but come to find out that I do.

I’m sorry to hear about you having to take time to help your children. It is especially difficult for Catholic schools during this economic time. Catholic schools usually already start out stumbling because they don’t have the bigger financial base that the public schools do (although that doesn’t mean much because public schools are also underfunded). It can help a lot if you sit down and have a meeting with your daughters’ teachers (you might have already done this). Is it all of the subjects that they are learning or is it just one or two?
If any of these questions is too personal, you don’t have to answer them, just trying to find out more information to help more.

But if the standardized tests are about math and reading-shouldn’t they be teaching that anyway?

We took standardized tests back in the Dark Ages too, but Sister didn’t have to adjust her curriculum. We were tested on things we were supposed to know.

The issues I had with my own education still seem to be out there. The “Discovery Method” (which I like to call the “Guessing Game Method”) of teaching is still very popular, where the teacher sets a variety of exercises without telling the students what their goal is supposed to be. Granted, there are times when this is an appropriate method, when the instructions are clear, and the goal is, “Follow these steps, and see what happens. Record your impressions.” But in most cases, it’s better to state the actual goals of the exercise, and show the kids how following the steps will lead to the goal. This also allows them to use their creativity in achieving their goals, and figure out efficient strategies for getting their work done, so that they aren’t taking home these big piles of homework.

The “Ramble On Pointlessly” system of lecturing seems to still be in vogue, as well as text books with long, opinionated articles in them where, instead of learning more about the subject that the text book is supposed to be about, just go off in every direction or even suggest the opposite of what it is supposed to be teaching, so that the student is even more confused about the subject at hand than before reading the book.

There is a real terror of fact-based teaching out there. “Oh, no, that would lead to memorization.” I have yet to understand what is wrong with memorization. It is an extremely useful skill to have, and having a set of simple, memorized facts in one’s head gives the student a strong foundation for a reasoned understanding of more complex material in the same subject area.

I don’t care how many hours you spend teaching a subject, or how much homework you assign, if the kids don’t know what their goals are supposed to be, and don’t have a strategy for achieving them, they aren’t going to get anywhere with the material.

I’m sixteen and I think that if the children are listening in school and are actually finding learning fun, it is sure to be an easy ride. Personally, I love to learn and if something is too challenging for me, I ask for help and try to do better. The problem is that some kids think of learning as chore as opposed to the privilege that it is. I think because we (the kids) have generally become too lazy, we need more work to keep us on track! (I mean, look at what technology has given us since the 1960s: better TVs, video games, our own laptops, etc.) Those things meant to entertain have been abused and children find if they don’t need to use their bodies too much on a day-to-day basis…who say’s they have to use their minds in school? Little, little kids should have no problems at all…but that’s just my own opinion! :newidea:

God Bless!

I don’t understand that anti-memorization thing either. My goddaughter went to public schools, and we augmented her education by having her memorize her times tables and other things. She LOVED it, and she got better grades. She knew all her state capitals, she knew countries and their capitals, she memorized the Preamble…and at nearly 23 she can still do all of it.

We memorized MANY things back in school and I still know them. The priest at my old parish back in NJ used to LOVE to throw out Catechism questions and watch all us old Catholic school kids respond in chorus. :smiley:

Yes and no. Because the teachers are now forced to teach “to the test” they now teach how to spit out the answers as opposed to why those answers exist and how to find them. For example, the students would be taught that 5X5=25. Though this is helpful, it is much more helpful to teach why 5X5=25 and in this way the student is now prepared to find out what 6X6 equals whereas the former student would need the teacher to again teach him or her what 6X6. It’s the same thing with, say, history. The students are taught what happened and when, but not why. That’s the most critical part of history! Students are given more and more of an oppertunity to make mistakes. Grades are greatly inflated (it is easier now in high school to graduate with straight A’s than ever before). It actually seems that the only level of school that is still competative, and that’s college. That’s also why it is so hard for students to transition from high school to college, because they are not use to the course load.
So yes, students are learning that 2X2=4, but becuase they don’t know why they aren’t really learning math (these examples are simplified. Most students know why 2X2=4. Although oddly there are some surprising statistics on the internet about how many know the Pledge of Alliegence, who the president is, etc. You should check them out).

I want to make it very clear that I have nothing but gratitude and respect for my children’s catholic school teachers. They have been extremely helpful. I have problems with the amount that is required to be learned. I’ll post some of the things required in tommorrows 4th grade english final and the 2nd grade Religion and Math finals later I hope. I can’t even help my daughter very much with the 4th grade exam. Predicates, predicate pronouns, direct objects and a bunch of other nonsense if you ask me. I help with it and encourage them just because I am a parent and hope maybe it will get them somewhere someday. But I don’t see the necessity in “knowing” the things that God-knows-who requires us to know. And I surely don’t like the time it takes to teach.

 I've had some issues with only a few of the public school teachers but not much.  I mostly have problems with the amount of work and the amount that I think is nonsense for young children to be pressured to know.
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