The Value Of The American Education

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The Value Of The American Education

Maxton Preuninger, Writer

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I remember chuckling and digging my toes into the sand when my host father commented on how amazing my school life must be, sipping on a glass of mango juice as he dabbed the sweat off his forehead. I squinted, trying to see through the brightness of the Ghanaian summer sun, only to be met with a look of utter disbelief.

“Did I say something wrong? What is so funny?” he asked, expecting me to correct him on the pronunciation of a word.

I took a breath of the salty, coastal air and prepared myself to list all of the mild inconveniences of American education, but the words got caught at the top of my throat.

I thought back to the students I had met at Zico Primary School in Anloga.

I remembered a boy, Prosper, who was 22-years-old and in the sixth grade. When he was younger, he wasn’t able to endure the two hour walk to and from school, so he waited until he got older when he would be strong enough to rise before dawn and begin his morning commute.

I remembered Francisca, who almost begged for homework after class so that she could take it home to her siblings and begin to teach them English. She lived in a house with four younger siblings, and she knew that her family wouldn’t be able to pay for the public school fees to send all of them to school.

I looked back up to my host father, and I shook my head.

“Nothing, I just thought of something funny,” I said, offering a reassuring smile.

Now, nearly six months later, I sit in class, constantly turning my head to the back of the room, anxiously waiting for each bell to ring. I spend the school week wishing for the weekend, the weekends wishing for the disappearance of the school week.

It’s an endless cycle that most students have gotten themselves into. We overlook how good we really have it at school, and we restrict ourselves from taking advantage of the plethora of opportunities that are right at our fingertips.

Day in and day out, the halls are filled with students who desire to drop out over an extra homework assignment or a failed test that wasn’t studied for. When teachers advise students to go to tutoring, I see them holding in their groans and eye rolls of disapproval.

I see those same students panicking a few days before grades are due, grasping at straws to raise their grades.

We accept grades that we aren’t really happy with and decide to hope for the best rather than taking advantage of the resources that are offered to us. At the end of the day, we don’t pay a fee to our principal every year in order to go to class. We don’t have to worry about teachers not showing up due to a lack of pay. We don’t have to worry about not being able to afford to go to school when there are siblings in the house.

As much as we dread coming to school five days a week, we really do have it made.  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to complain about homework and teachers, it just means we need to start taking advantage of the great things we have here and use it for the better.

Through making the most of the education that we have, we have the power to make the connections and create the solutions that will begin to provide children all over the world with the education they deserve.