Two Methods in Contrast

Two Methods in Contrast

Education is the most important and influential part of our lives. The future of a country highly relies on educated people.

That is why I chose to be the Ambassador of Quality Education on AlumNet, as I have worked close to education, and even wrote my thesis on American education policy, analyzing the problems and reservations concerning education in the United States.

On that note, in this article, I am going to make a comparison between two distinct teaching methods. On one side, is the old, Prussian-like method and on the other, the more liberal “American” one. I enclosed the word “American” in quotation marks as I am unsure why it is classified so. Anyway, which one is “better” is an ongoing debate as each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

Let us begin with the old Prussian-like method. Many countries still adhere to this way of teaching, each with their modifications. In this method, the teacher explains and the student must take notes, getting homework and tested sooner or later. The topic of the test is usually what the teacher taught in the lesson. There is a big disadvantage of this, namely, it is nothing more than cramming dry facts, no research, nothing. Only the teacher can be right in a class, which can even consist of 50 students in some countries. Moreover, he or she has to maintain discipline. Yes, to a certain extent, it can be done. It has a definite advantage: students will gain wide lexical knowledge and educators can transfer complex ideas to their students.

However, we are in the 21st century. These days, dry facts are accessible to everyone on the Internet. That is why I am shifting my focus to American education. American students research a lot even during primary school. They are taught not only to have ideas but how to defend and debate them. Why do they have so many oral competitions? Incidentally, an American class also consists of a lot of students, but there have been attempts to reduce the size (reference Call to Action No. 1 below). Such classes are divided into smaller groups to enhance group research. Therefore, being very helpful for both sides as teachers will recognize, almost immediately, when students have deficiencies and need attention. Also, even if the outcome of such interaction is not favourable, the teacher will give generous appreciation to students who make an effort. The most common critique of this method is that it does not demand enough of the student. Well, this has some truth to it, but it does not overexert them either.

Last but not least, let us make a comparison between an 11th-grade math class in the United States and Hungary, a clash of the two opposing methods. Hungarian education has a definite downside: it is outdated and has NO TRUST in children. If untrue, why are all smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. required to be switched off during classes? Are we 100% sure that students will use them for social media? In Hungary, 11th graders (students aged 17-18) are studying coordinate geometry, combinatorics, exponential and logarithmic equations, and fraction-powered calculations—most of their time is spent doing coordinate geometry. According to School Improvement Network (see Call to Action No. 2 below), 11th-grade American children (age varies among states) are studying graphs and analysis. They are learning how to make predictions by learning formulas. What do you think? Which method is more up-to-date and useful in the long run?

Calls to Action:

  1. Search for “Student Success Act Proposal, by John Kline From Minnesota” at the Library of Congress online. Then, enhance your judgment by typing in the term “bilingual education” and read through the results.
  2. Watch this video and draw your own conclusion.
  3. Do you want to take part in a life-changing experience campaigning Quality Education? Live the experience with AIESEC—sign up, and a local committee will call you for a meeting (note that you must be aged between 18 and 30 to participate).

– Gergely Lázár

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

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