Each week I try to think of something new to add to the blog, perhaps something that hasn’t been covered by anyone else yet, but this week I have failed to do that! I found myself wanting to talk about the topic of our school system as many of my classmates have already done.
Something that today’s discussion made me think about was WHY our school system is the way it is. I especially thought about this whenever we talked about the “standard” notions every student comes out of high school with. So many of us had read common, “classic” novels throughout high school. Often times I’ve wondered just what makes a novel a “classic” (though that’s room for an entirely different discussion). More than that, however, I wondered what was the difference for those who had read different things in high school. Of course, a lot of it depended on the teachers that we had. I’m one of those people that is completely convinced that a novel has the power to change one’s way of thinking, or at least GET them to consider new ideas. I can testify to this, personally, and it kind of blows my mind to think that without a teacher’s simple choice to assign a reading, my opinions might not be what they are today. Going back to Gatto’s essay, I can kind of disagree on some points. I’m thankful for some teachers that I had in the past, because I know some of their actions led me to be the person that I am today. I went to a regular public school like most American children. Nothing was special about our school system. I like to think that I turned out okay.
Who decides what’s important for people to come out of high school knowing, anyway? I find it kind of amusing that most of us have common knowledge about different topics, some relevant to our lives presently, but others not as much. I suppose the goal is to make sure that we have information that we can use in some aspect of our lives – some will use mathematical equations as they dive into careers, while me personally, hope with all of their heart I never have to do another geometric equation after I finish my math requirement for my degree.
I believe it is all about good intentions. No one wants to see anyone fail. Our school system is designed to help people succeed, some tactics perhaps more effective than others, but well-intentioned all the same.
In the article we read for today’s class “Against School”, John Taylor Gatto explains how he thinks our public education system cripples kids and why. His first point is that both the students and teachers are suffering from boredom. The kids seemed to be bored because they think that the work is stupid or that they are already aware of how to do it. The students also pointed out the fact that the teachers didn’t seem to know much more about what was being taught then the students themselves. On the other side of the spectrum the teachers are just as bored because they feel the students are rude and only interested in the grades. I agree with a lot that he says within his essay. I remember constantly dreading getting up at the crack of dawn to go to high school or middle school. Then while I sat through first period I would hear everyone else grunting and complaining. Most of the complaints were about having to complete six classes, most of which we are required not elected, a day for five days a week. Since I have graduated, I have noticed that I hear far less complaining students and more importantly I no longer dread going to class. The freedom that comes along with college keeps it interesting. When a student is able to choose what classes to take and at what time, they are going to be more engaged in the classroom. I believe that it would be extremely helpful if students were given the opportunity to decide what classes they are interested in taking earlier. I agree that a general education may be necessary for some time but by the time a student is in high school they should be deciding what path they want to take.
I just read John Gatto’s assigned essay and found that I agree with a lot that he is saying. I was never really satisfied with what I was learning in school and I hated, as everyone does, all the subjects I had to study that I found useless. We learn too much in school that isn’t useful, but more importantly, we don’t learn enough that is. There was so much time wasted back in elementary, middle, and high school. The system that we have for going to school every day for around 7 to 8 hours and learning predefined subjects is broken. The amount of time wasted in the middle of a school day is ridiculous and unnecessary. It’s bad enough that things are getting so easy to do and information so easy to find due to technology, which causes laziness, but I feel like most people in public education don’t care at all. I went back to visit some of my teachers over spring break and it was so weird to walk through the halls and see some of the students, I was thinking “who do they think they are and what are they going to do with their lives?” Gatto is right in the way that he says children are being taught to be addicts and to be even more like children. Mindless consumers make up quite a large portion of the country nowadays. Money is constantly wasted on things that aren’t even worth what they’re sold for and aren’t necessary components to life, they’re just things that people want. If our country wants to get back to the top, a well thought out redesign of the educational system would be a fantastic first step. I have no idea why this has yet to take place, it’s not like we have the time to waste.