Schooling and Our Expectations

I've been thinking about education a lot lately, and came to a few conclusions primarily regarding K-12:

1. Despite what people say throughout the world, schools in America work. They could be better, but in the end who cares about test scores across the world when in the real world (post-school) we produce more patents, more research, and almost more anything per capita? There's a reason why, regardless of the "low" scores (which don't take into account technological training, group collaboration, or any number of arguably more important things that one can't test), people come here to study, and we shouldn't be trying to copy what other schools around the world do when ours are obviously outputting as good or better end results. The traditional philosophy in the United States on schools has been to inspire productivity, adaptability, and creativity (albeit a recent push away from this); elsewhere, they often cram facts and numbers. The keyword there is inspiration. I argue it's more important to have the former attitude, because with it you will end up with any conclusions the latter does, along with unique paradigms and ideas.

2. The second shortcoming is the seeming decrease of responsibility of parents to their children. There is so much emphasis on putting kids into school for more hours, but would it not help more to have the kids around their parents to learn directly from them? These days, so many parents push off the responsibility of education to schools, whereas I argue schools are simply there to maintain a basic minimum standard as well as provide creative and adaptive interaction, and little more. We don't need more money for schools (although perhaps the money could be better allocated), more time in schools (although this is on Obama's agenda, or more facts and work in school, and rarely do we need the school to bend over backwards to cater to the individual students. The flaw often lies in the parents themselves, who fail to educate in the home and thus fail to ignite the spark of loving to learn for learning's sake.

3. Never let school get in the way of your education, to paraphrase Mark Twain. Formal schooling is helpful to the extent it should be (that is, enforcing a minimum standard of knowledge and understanding as well as providing an environment for students to grow as a group and learn to adapt to others), but once again, education is far above schooling. Part of the reason I never bothered to finish high school is the lack of return I felt from going. Some of the greatest minds began in a one-room school, and those that succeed in the world of academia often learn parallel to higher education, not as a direct result of it. An inward motivation fostered by a mentor's enthusiasm is all it takes to excel and progress your education.

Some people think that schools shouldn't have competition, and that what matters most is that a student gains self-esteem. I disagree (reread point 2). Others argue that mediocrity can be fixed with more money, smaller classrooms, or rather choose to blame failure on societal prejudice. A lot of fingers point toward teacher quality degradation (however that can be quantified). I don't think that even if these were valid points they would attack the issue at the root.

A cross-discipline of basic schooling, continuous learning, and real-world experience and challenges will continue to bring out the best minds in our world today. A focus or failure in any of these categories will stunt the growth and productivity of an entire generation.


AnnaLee said...

"...rarely do we need the school to bend over backwards to cater to the individual students" This is something that I have seen my high school do for students. Many people thought it would help the student body as a whole if they enforced the "No child left behind" act, but all this seemed to do was lower the level of education that the students could obtain who wanted to go as high as they could. It became more of a sore spot for the students and the teachers than a help for those students it was intended to help.

A suggestion for your posts, you might want to break them up with pictures or shorten your points some. I got lost about halfway through your number two point because of how long the post was.

Araignée said...

Aye, thanks. I sometimes get carried away with a topic as large as this...and I forced myself to stop expanding it :)

If the focus is to get everyone across the bar, it's definitely going to lead to a devaluation of education in the eyes of those who would have excelled.

Ariele Herring said...

I really like the thought you had on our schools developing characteristics and traits in students that cannot be tested. It is so true. There is so much more to gain from school than cramming facts. In fact, I would argue that what we learn that cannot be tested is more important than what we learn that can be tested.

Araignée said...

Definitely true, Ariele. The true test is that of real's then that what we learn is accurately drawn on.

Belle said...

I don't know if I'm happy about what I learned in school or our school system in general, but I wouldn't say other countries are better.

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