In study after study, it is becoming increasingly evident that high school graduates are sadly not prepared for a college education.
In fact, even community colleges around the country have found that some students are “trapped in a remedial maze” and it often takes more than one semester to get on track to where they need to be to take courses for credit.
It is important to remember that remedial courses do not count towards a student’s degree, so it is time wasted that could have been better spent in high school learning the skills that would prepare them for college and/or university.
Literacy Rates Are on the Decline
When looking at statistics, it is a frightening heritage we leave our children because this is the first generation ever where the current generation is less educated than the one before them. This factoid is from the National Commission on Adult Literacy, 2008. In terms of literacy, it becomes even more frightening. According to the Census Bureau, there are approximately 326 million people living in the United States and of those, just over 250 million are adults. Of those, it is estimated that at least 34 million are functionally illiterate.
How Effective Is a STEM Education?
In an effort to prepare students for life in an ever-expanding technological world, the United States began pushing what is being referred to as a STEM education. This is a focus on the four disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. However, the percentage of students entering community colleges in need of remedial work in science and mathematics is extremely high.
With almost 47% in need of remediation in language arts and an even higher percentage in need of remedial work in the sciences and mathematics, something isn’t quite working. Perhaps it hasn’t been long enough since this program was instituted, but it is reported on the Live Science website that only 16% of current students are expressing any interest in STEM.
Innovation to the Rescue – Meeting Students Where They Live
Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to send rescuers to every single household where a high school student resides, but that isn’t really where they live, is it? Most of today’s youth live on their mobile phones and in front of flat screen TVs hooked up to the latest PlayStation or Xbox. Those who aren’t on cell phones or game systems are playing online games from a laptop or tablet, rarely a desktop these days.
One innovative company has joined together with educators across the country to design a game that teaches students the principles of calculus. An exciting 3-D game, it is played like any other action game, but it is set in a world dominated by the laws and rules of calculus. It is proving to be quite interesting to watch students learn difficult concepts by playing calculus games and to date, the results are astonishing.
It is truly a sad state of affairs when a country as affluent as the United States ranks 30th (of only 35 nations being surveyed!) in math and in science. Any game that can inspire a student to learn is welcome, and kudos to those developers who have our youth in their sights.