We are all individuals. We are all different. Or so we think, but according to the public school system we would all be thinking wrong. They preach that students need structure, discipline and a strict schedule to follow throughout their eight hour day. Students are commonly disrespected with a sit down, shut up philosophy which requires them to request permission for basic needs (such as using the facilities). Creativity and critical thinking are stifled under a system which discourages students to solve problems with their own deductive reasoning (because it is not the “correct” way).
Standardized testing and grading systems encourage the memorization of facts rather than learning. Thus students who may not understand certain material or suffer from test anxiety are left feeling inferior and stupid. Instead of offering resources and changing with the times however, education has remained stale (which you can learn more about here). Is this the way we want to tell them to live? Is this the environment we wish to entrust their young minds to?
The truth is that public education should not be run by city, state, or federal governments but by students and teachers. These are the people that are going to know the most effective methods of learning both for themselves and their students. Would you entrust your car mechanic to do open heart surgery? No? Then why entrust the education of our nation’s youth to politicians, many of which have never taught a day in their lives?
Teachers are underpaid and undervalued when they should be revered. They are the ones molding the children of today into the adults of tomorrow. Instead, their pay is often tied to the performance of their students on standardized tests (sometimes with impossible results as referenced by John Oliver here).
How can a teacher be expected to have the desire to teach without the respect they deserve? Moreover, if a teacher is not inspired to teach, can we really expect our students to have the desire to learn?
The most basic fact is that there is no “one size fits all” teaching method. Everyone learns in their own way and thus we cannot expect all students to conform to one method of learning. Every individual has their own strengths, interests, goals and dreams. Johnny wants to be a math major, while Suzy is terrible in that subject. Due to large class sizes and financial resources Suzy is unable to pass standardized testing, but she is brilliant when it comes to the arts. However, modern day American schools are systematically eliminating classes that cater to creativity and the arts (you can learn more here). This is leaving many students, like Suzy, without a creative outlet and making school less and less enjoyable. Is it any wonder why many students dread the end of Summer break?
Yet nothing I have said even touches on the subject of homework and the toll that two plus hours a day takes on a child. Not only is school no longer enjoyable but they are taking away the childhood of their students by telling them that the work they do at school is not enough. They must proceed to go home and toil over their books even more, thus effectively eliminating free time that could be spent on their own personal interests. Is eight hours a day not enough?
Many schools try to encourage school spirit yet, how can every student have school spirit when their spirit is being destroyed little by little on a daily basis? You could say this is not true, that their spirit is not being destroyed, that they are only learning discipline and structure in an environment meant for sitting quietly and learning-but one would be forced to disagree. In fact it is that very structure and discipline that is the means by which that very spirit is decimated. Did we all not learn as children with play? Didn’t we learn more about social skills at the park with other children before being tossed into a classroom? Children are learning every day, so why make it unpleasant with a sit down and shut up philosophy? Rather than go against nature, shouldn’t we just embrace it and allow children to learn freely?