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RUNNING HEAD: Mythology and the American System of Education Reflection

Mythology and the


American System of
Education Reflection
By John Dano
8/26/2017
David C. Berliner writes an interesting article debunking myths about the American

education system. He chooses 10 myths that are commonly held by many Americans, then he

works to prove them wrong by offering data and pointing out places where the myth is

conveniently useful to the American public and people as individuals. While he writes a

fascinating article and takes care of several myths quite well, there are cases in which he either

fails to offer extra information or solid data altogether. The data he offers is good, but it cannot

be necessarily accepted as fact. I also think that debunking many of these myths will help me

grow as a teacher as well.

The first three myths focus on students lack of intelligence. Myth #1 claims that the

youth of today are not as smart as they once were, namely before the 1970s.1 The author then

takes data from IQ testing to point out that the students scores are actually higher than their

parents scores when they took the test.2 While this is accurate and solid data, I also think it is

worth mentioning (and Berliner does not mention this), that the students of today are living in the

information age. They have more knowledge readily available at their fingertips wheras their

parents only had physical books. Myth #2 claims that Todays youths are unable to think as well

as before.3 Once again, Berliner uses solid data from AP testing results to show that this is

simply not the case. In fact, not only are the students thinking better (getting better scores on the

AP tests), more minority students are passing with higher grades.4 David Berliner attacks this

myth quite well, and I believe that as a result of being able to think more with problem-solving

skills and abstract thinking we should see an increase in students passing high school and

applying to college. Myth #3 claims that college graduates are not as intelligent as previous

1
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 96
2
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 96
3
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 96
4
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p.97
generations, and Berliner shows that we are on the same level in some areas and better in other

areas with students who graduated 20 years ago. I was disappointed with this one only because

Berliner offered reliable data but did not specify what the data was or where it came from.

Myth #4 and #5 claim a marked decrease in intelligence from the students (Namely

students who once flourished) due to too much focus on minority students education, and it is

the fault of the school system.5 The author points out, however, that the decrease was by a mere

3.3% overall, and that students who once did well are still doing well and even better on the SAT

tests. He also claims that the decrease is in part because students are receiving information in

different forms from their parents and grandparents.6 Myth #6 suggests that students are doing

well in some subjects, but there is a marked decrease in intelligence with regards to other

subjects.7 Berliner states that there is no gross inadequacies; students are doing quite well on

SATs and other state tests, some of which are actually now more difficult than they were in

previous years. 8

Myth #7 struck me as quite an odd myth, given that it is almost entirely wrong. It states

that money is unrelated to the outcomes of schooling.9 Berliner states that by offering more

money to more experience teachers, the students achievement level would actually increase.10 It

is also worth mentioning that money used to buy technology for the classroom can also help

students to exceed their previous intelligence levels and scores on tests. Myth #8, 9, and 10 claim

that the Education bureaucracy is too large, is squandering its money, and is not producing the

5
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 97
6
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 98
7
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 98
8
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 98
9
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 100
10
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 100
number of scientists, engineers, etc. to enter the workforce.11 With the exception of a few

European countries, Berliner claims that America does spend a lot of money on education, but

that we are receiving results right on par with the rest of the world, even better.12 Most of it is not

used in the bureaucracy (which is not as large as it is made out to be in comparison with other

sectors of our government), but it given to districts to be redistributed to schools for supplies, etc.
13
The final myth claiming that we do not produce enough scientists in the workforce is indeed

true, according to Berliner. 14 As he points out, however, the job market in that area is actually

slowly declining, meaning that fewer scientists are produced for fewer jobs, which is actually

good for the economy. 15

As a teacher I believe debunking each one of these ten myths is incredibly important for

us to move forward in education. We must first realize that our students are not, indeed, less

intelligent than prior generations; in fact, they are more intelligent in some ways due to the age

they have been raised in. It is also paramount that we realize how necessary money is to giving

the students a good education designed around them. Teachers have a difficult road ahead of

them, and I believe we can only move forward on that road if we acknowledge what parts we can

fix and what parts actually do not need to be fixed.

11
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 101-103
12
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 101
13
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 101
14
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 103
15
Berliner, David C. Mythology and the American System of Education. p. 103