Thursday, August 6, 2015

Changing Education

As I was internet-ting today, I came across a very thought-provoking video calling, "Don't Stay In School". It's good. Watch it:

Watched it? Okay. Now here are my thoughts on it. First off, let me say that if you had learned the things mentioned in the video that Dave (that's his name) didn't learn, and you say that it's his fault for not being educated, that is fundamentally wrong, because just because you may have had the opportunity for a better education, that doesn't mean that everybody else does. School is to prepare us for what is to come after it... entering the workforce, getting a job, becoming a functioning member of society. It is to educate us on how to be productive and helpful to society. It allows us to get skills and knowledge useful to use in the future, and along the way, introducing students to new avenues of thought, different perspectives, new things and ideas. And this is how it is a fundamentally flawed system.

I actually have written a few essays on the subject of how the public schooling system is flawed in more ways than one. This entire blog post will probably be a point in support of that conclusion.

<sidenote> Oh dear, it's already becoming too mechanical and structured isn't it.... <sidenote>

The first of these essays, which I wrote roughly 3 years ago and submitted in as a paper in school was about how I shouldn't have to write that essay in the first place... I got a 100 for it. :D Basically, I was detailing how classes shouldn't have to be taken unless I had an interest in them and they would directly positively impact my education and future in the workforce. I also had a paragraph (or two) for how it was necessary to introduce all kids to everything they possibly could be introduced to to see what they are interested in, instead of taking it out of their life without ever exposing it to the student. I know, very similar to the message of the video at the end.

Another one of these essays, I was talking about how essays, especially ones of the carte blanche variety were infinitely more useful in demonstrating and encouraging creativity and learning than standardization, memorization, and other such mindless tasks. For instance, multiple choice tests often discourage creativity for limiting the answer choices and not allowing you to back up your answers, or to introduce a new perspective on the topic at hand because it is one-sided: right or wrong. What would be more beneficial to learning would be to, say, write an essay about how the rock cycle has affected a specific region (of your choosing) instead of a multiple choice test with questions about the rock cycle. Both would involve learning about the rock cycle, but the essay would force the student to actually learn about the rock cycle and how it interacts with other natural cycles in the Earth, rather than just memorizing the rock cycle and its components.

Dave notes in the video that schools often do not properly prepare students for the real world, and I'm not sure whether or not me being a high-schooler affects the weight my opinion carries on this matter (if any), but I feel as though this is true. I have gone through 8 to 9 years of the public school system, and only one of those years have taxes even been mentioned. Guess which grade? 6th? 8th?

Nope. It was 3rd. Make of that what you will, but there should have been some more lessons throughout my academic ... career? I guess you could call it. Teach me about how to file taxes, teach me where my money goes, teach me what matters in the real world! Sure, there are 4 more years of high school to go, but I get to choose those courses for myself, and due to the way the (flawed) GPA system works, financial literacy and other such courses are not part of my 4-year-plan because of their lower weighted GPA. Other such things are also affected by the flawed GPA system, such as fine arts being only regulars or honors courses, instead of being what might be called AP. Once again, we see how the emphasis on grades affects the education system negatively. 

People will say that if you give students the choice to choose their courses too early on, and without boundaries and limits, the students just won't choose some courses. I mean, what student in their right mind would choose AP Calculus BC? Those people are denying the intrinsic human quality of curiosity within each and every one of us. Especially children. We most definitely would seek out challenges and seek out education were it not so thrust on us, forced upon us in such a way to discourage us from liking it. Perhaps that is the teacher's job, to make sure we love to learn and stay curious. Us kids like to learn new interesting things, things that will help us in the future. If you recommend to me that AP Calculus would help me later down the road majorly, then I would definitely take it! But if you force me to take that course, then I would hate it, because kids don't like to be told what to do. 

Maybe that's what school does to us. It makes us obedient, slaves to society (metaphorically speaking, hold your horses now!), obeying its every whim. School weeds out creativity, makes going against the current against the rules as well, and makes doing something different or off the wall crazy discouraged. But that's what has gotten us so far as a human race! Creative people not backing down from being told that their work is stupid, won't stand a chance, useless, garbage, that is what has improved life so drastically. And unless we start making changes to our education system, to put creativity and self-thought first and grades second, unless we allow students the freedom to choose their courses to fit their future, unless we teach the basic life skills necessary to be functioning members of society, then we will still be in the dark. Change is necessary for progress, whether you like it or not.