Reform for the Better: Education
Looking back at the value of the education I received from sixth through twelfth grade (middle school through high school), I have come to notice that with every passing year, the general ideas for each class never changed. What I mean by this is that every year we were taught that to be successful, we must pass each course and receive good grades. What was not emphasized throughout my career was the comprehension of the material taught. Sure we were told that we must know the information to pass tests. However, what happens is that children learn to memorize the necessary information until a test is over. Then, even as soon as they start to turn in the exam, all the “learned” information slowly retracts from the mind, creating more space to memorize material for the next exam. The children of today are not learning information, they are not gaining knowledge, they are simply memorizing.
From early on in our lives, we are taught to believe that in order to achieve a life of success, we must first achieve exceptional grades. However, that is not the case. I have just recently come to recognize that education goes beyond just the classroom. Students today, have failed to apply themselves, not because they are not smart enough, and not even because they do not care about their future. It is because they are exhausted from being judged by a system of letters. According to Laurie Flynn, executive director of TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University, stress levels in college freshman has reached a record high. These stress levels are also correlated with the increasing percentage of college dropouts, which is currently at 35%. It is this system of believing simple letters determine the outcome of your life that is causing students to stay up extremely late and become stressed and emotional. It is this system that drives the increase of children not pursuing a college level education. It is this system that causes a child’s desire to learn simply fade away.
The problems of the current education system are not just isolated in the years of middle school and high school, they stay with the children as to go on to college. That is if they even decide to go in the first place. The current education system abandons the average students behind. Children are taught that by going to college, they can learn to become anybody they want. They are told that every person has the potential to be successful. However, since the current education focuses on achieving good grades through a system of memorization instead of actual comprehension, students that go to college may find it difficult to succeed. As a result, students that are not achieving the good grades that they believe determine their life will ultimately change their career path to one that is less satisfying than their original. Most of my current classmates, each of whom can be successful in their own right, will academically be changed by fear, and are instead choosing the path of simplicity: That is to get good grades, get a job, and be happy.
I am not suggesting that the current education system is the worst thing that has ever happened. It does teach us the basic necessities. I am simply suggesting that it be changed, and changed by the people that have gone through the system. Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it,” and this applies directly to education reform. If we want to change education, we need to fix it because we know the problems.
But in order to change the system, we must change the guidelines. Instead of teaching a child to pass, we need to simultaneously teach a child to understand and apply relevant information while also making the learning of this information an enjoyable experience for the child. What I mean by relevant information is information that can be used in the “real world,” and not information taught just to fill up an hour’s worth of time. In order to make learning an enjoyable experience for a child, we must first change the mindset of the child to where he/she wants to learn. Only then, will a child be able to fully understand the information that has taught to them.
Having changed this aspect of education, we can then implement a system that groups children together based on their intelligence level. What I mean by this is have them take a test beginning each school year showing how much information they can comprehend and apply to various situations. Then the schools use the results of these tests to group the children into general education classes based on intelligence, not age. This grouping method should only be used for classes such as mathematics, sciences, and english, whereas classes such as physical education and art should still be based on age. In this scenario, I believe the children will be able to advance their education to higher levels while still being able to take part in the social aspect of school with peers of his/her own age.
Even if a system like this does not bring about the changes we need in our current educational system, it is a start. We as a nation must work together and brainstorm ideas as to what needs to be done to help educate the children of tomorrow. Changes like these are difficult, but they are also necessary.
Majority of paper is my own opinion