William Ramage | United States
Public education in America is more restrictive than it is beneficial to one’s knowledge. Students are compelled to memorize facts and become experts in subjects they cannot personally relate to or have no interest in whatsoever. With no enthusiasm or will to learn, students gain little from the learning experience. They often forget what they study shortly after the unit draws to a close and question why the information is a necessary use of their knowledge and time. This is equally detrimental to the teacher as their career begins to lose its sense of value and purpose. Educating students daily who have no desire to learn the material other than to boost their GPA, and with it their prospects of being admitted to a good college is demoralizing to the teacher who has studied that subject their entire life and found value in its practice and development.
The true meaning of learning and acquiring knowledge has been lost within the modern public education system, as students are more concerned with improving their grades than thoroughly learning the material, resulting in academic dishonesty and the feeling of dissatisfaction with the system. If students aren’t truly learning and engaging in the material, what knowledge are they gaining from the 12 years of public schooling? While studying and organization skills are also valuable takeaways from secondary school, they should not be the main outcome of many hours spent studying. In practice, public education just barely reaches the intended outcome of preparing students to become economically self-sufficient but falls short of giving students a chance to think for themselves and take their own stances on issues. Most subjects do not have a black and white objective answer, and many perspectives can be reasonably argued from multiple viewpoints. Many potentially correct arguments are shot down by teachers as they disagree with the stance or believe that their perspective is the only defensible one. It is within our nature to believe something is wrong when we do not agree with it, so it is unfair to blame educators for this behavior. It is important for students to learn that there are often multiple correct viewpoints in the real world, and schooling fails to provide examples of this reality to its students.
The grading scale used in the typical American classroom is systematically incorrect in the sense that it is very difficult to assess knowledge by a singular number. Many uncontrollable factors determine our intelligence and how we may apply it to the world. Yet, all students are measured up against each other and graded the exact same way. One student can be passionate about the subject matter at hand and devote great amounts of time to the course, while another student may earn an equal or better grade by engaging in forms of cheating. Therefore, measuring one’s knowledge and potential for success by a number is inaccurate and a very poor reflection on the student’s effort and actual desire to learn.
Many students find it difficult to concentrate in a traditional classroom environment, resulting in distraction, fidgeting, and as a consequence, poor performance. When these symptoms are brought to the attention of a parent, the student may be evaluated by a doctor and diagnosed with an attention disorder. Many of these “disorders” are falsely diagnosed, resulting in the drugging of many children who simply don’t learn the same way as lawmakers and bureaucrats want them to. This is a drastically overlooked problem as many of these students are placed on medications that may influence the formation of their personality from when they are very young, damaging their emotional state and creating future problems. This is simply the public education system forcing its participants to conform to its style to an extreme extent. Rather than mandate that all kids learn in the same way, the government should fund a variety of learning environments that can appeal to multiple learning styles.
Students are often overworked as well, leaving them with little time to enjoy their short-lived youth. Schools cram students with unnecessarily large amounts of work, with little regard to mental health or stress. While homework itself is beneficial and serves a good purpose, excessive amounts do the opposite. Overburdening students with class work can cause them to dread participating in the class and kill the last bit of innate curiosity within them. Stress disorders, sleep deprivation, and lack of free time plague the modern youth. American education needs a major reform that appeals to the needs of a younger and more involved generation. The youth is the future of our nation, and it is important to provide them with the true meaning of knowledge and cultivate a passion for learning from a young age.
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