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Can America's colleges and universities rest on their accomplishments? About 12 million students currently attend schools of higher education in America. They are students in a society that believe in the bond between education and democracy. They have at their disposal great libraries (Harvard alone has more than 10 million volumes); the latest in technology; and faculties with a tradition of research accomplishments. (The world's first electronic computer was developed at the University of Pennsylvania, for example.) They are free to pursue their interests, to develop their talents, and to gain professional rank.

Still, many Americans are not satisfied with the condition of higher education in their country. Perhaps the most widespread complaint has to do with the college curriculum as a whole, and with the wide range of electives in particular. In the mid-1980s, the Association of American Colleges (AAC) issued a report that called for teaching a body of common knowledge to all college students. According to the AAC report, this common core of subjects should include science and the study of cultural differences (as well as basic literacy). A somewhat similar report, "Involvement in Learning," was issued by the National Institute of Education (NIE). In its report, the NIE concluded that the college curriculum has become "excessively vocational work-related." The report also warned that college education may no longer be developing in students "the shared values and knowledge" that traditionally bind Americans together. A serious charge: Is it true?

For the moment, to some degree, it probably is. Certainly, some students complete their degree work without a course in Western civilization—not to mention other world cultures. Others leave college without having studied science or government. As one response, many colleges have begun reemphasizing a core curriculum that all students must master.

On the other hand, many students and some professors have charged that university curricula are too "Euro-centered," that they emphasize European culture at the expense of the cultures of Africa, Asia or Latin America, for example. This has led to a movement toward "multiculturalism," or the addition to the curriculum in many institutions of courses on such subjects as African literature or on the contributions of women to society. Some traditionalists argue that this trend has gone too far.

Such problems are signs that American higher education is changing, as it has throughout its history. And as in the past, this change may be leading in unexpected directions: The Puritans set up colleges to train ministers. But their students made their mark as the leaders of the world's first Constitutional democracy. The land grant colleges were founded to teach agriculture and engineering to the builders of the American West. Today, many of these colleges are leading schools in the world of scientific research. American universities were established to serve a rather small elite. In the 20th century, GIs, women and minorities claimed their right to be educated at these same universities. The full impact of this change is probably yet to be seen.

Americans have always had a stake in "making the system work." They have especially critical reasons for doing so in the field of education. People in the United States today are faced with momentous questions: "What is America's proper role as the world's oldest Constitutional democracy; its largest economy; its first nuclear power?"

Americans cherish their right to express opinions on all such issues. But the people of the United States are also painfully aware of how complex such issues are. To take part in dealing with new problems, most Americans feel they need all the information they can get. Colleges and universities are the most important centers of such learning. And whatever improvements may be demanded, their future is almost guaranteed by the

American thirst to advance and be well-informed. In fact, the next change in American education may be a trend for people to continue their education in college—for a lifetime.

Answer the following questions:

1. How many levels does education in the USA comprise? What are they?

2. How long does the school year last?

3. What is the common pattern of organization?

4. What does preschool education comprise?

5. How old is the age group?

6. What is the aim of preschool education?

7. What is the main purpose of the elementary school?

8. What is promotion from one grade to the next based on?

9. What subjects are compulsory and optional? (in secondary education)

10. What are the grades?





Date: 2015-12-17; view: 1191

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