Is It Time To Rethink Our Education System?

Recently, a successful friend said something to me that I have heard a lot since I dropped out of school in the eleventh grade, “high school was a complete waste of time.”  When I tell people that I’m a dropout with a bachelors degree, they are often shocked.  Friends have made me retell the story of how I ended up in community college so many times, I’ve grown sick of telling it.  But, I’ll do it one more time, just for you good people.

When I had just turned eighteen, I ended up at an adult secondary school.  If you are not familiar with such institutions, they are essentially second chance schools for delinquents, burnouts and other assorted degenerates.  The only people who tried were pregnant girls, forced out of the big leagues by practical necessity or social stigma, and almost everyone else tried to sell me drugs.

One day in english class, we took a break from learning where the comma goes to hear a guest speaker from the local community college.  I figured that anything she said had little to do with me, so I laid my head down and took a little nap, which was generally considered an acceptable practice.  I faded in and out of consciousness as she talk for almost an hour about the school she represented.  Her words were blurring with whatever sort of stuff is found in my subconscious.  I thought I heard her say that you could attend community college once you turned eighteen even if you didn’t have a diploma.  So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask her if I had heard this right.  She told me that I had and I walked out of class.  The next day I drove across town and registered for college level classes.

Everyone’s K-12 school experience is a bit different.  I still meet people who say that high school was the time of their life, but many more call college the golden days.  For me personally, high school was an oppressive and creatively deadening experience.  It wasn’t until college that I was able to reach my full potential and become an A-B student, instead of a C-D student.

Part of my problem was simply the rules.  There were a million of them and they were enforced with almost no discretion, a strict zero tolerance policy.  The principle once told me that I had no right to free speech as a student – I’m not kidding.  This was during the Iraq war.  I was told constantly that men and women were dying for my freedom, while being told I have no freedom.

However, my rebellious ways are generally the exception.  Since high school, I have asked many of the A students how they managed to do so well.  Usually, they tell me that they studied, a lot.  This got me thinking.  Most students spend forty hours a week at school.  The studious ones then go home and spend two or three hours a night over a book.  If you add in an extracurricular activity, many good high school students spend sixty plus hours a week working.  This is more than most adults work.  Contrast this to college, where a student will spend only fifteen to twenty hours in class each week.  Why are some high school students working harder than some college students and working adults?

I’m not saying that I can supply all the answers to America’s education problem.  But I do know I can’t go a month without reading some article about our slipping education ranking compared to other industrial and postindustrial countries.  One the other hand, our colleges are ranked best in the world.  Should high school be a bit more like college?  Or do teens need the strict regimen of a high school day?  Maybe I’m completely wrong and a better solution is needed.  A solution that may be forming in the mind of a high school student as I write.

 

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9 comments

  1. Carl William Brown · February 6, 2015

    Reblogged this on The World of English.

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  2. Michael (contemplativemoorings) · February 6, 2015

    “Oppressive and creatively deadening”…Nail hit squarely on the head…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Philomath · February 6, 2015

    Great post. I think education is anything but. It may be a conspiracy to conform to society, but it certainly didn’t do me any good. I may have been too young to appreciate it, but I’d like to think they got it wrong. Education should be about making you flourish and enjoy learning, and in that they have failed miserably. Time to revamp the whole system. Now that I’m much older, and into educating myself, I wonder why they didn’t figure to teach me how wonderful knowledge is, instead of focusing on grades and competition, and making the whole thing feel like a chore.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 3tswithmame · February 8, 2015

    What you intuited is that schools were not meant for children. They were and still are created to help employers get and retain their employees (who no longer look after their children during employment time) and who get richer in the process, and for governments to form citizens who will vote for them. Dispensing education to children was an afterthought; which is still poorly managed.

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  5. Chris Smith · February 9, 2015

    Personally I don’t think college students need any time in the classroom. Professors can do lectures and class discussion more efficiently online, and it’s silly for everyone to have to gather in a physical location 2-3 times per week. I do think little kids benefit a lot from being in a classroom (and their parents of course need someone to watch them during the day). So there’s this question of where the cutoff should be: at what age should we declare someone old enough to no longer need the classroom? Any answer is going to be somewhat arbitrary, and our society arbitrarily chooses to reduce classroom time around age 18. Of course you could argue that that’s too late, and I’d probably agree.

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  6. Charles Lominec · February 10, 2015

    I think one of the main issues is that we teach WHAT to think and not HOW to think. My favorite teacher encouraged disagreement with him as long as our arguments were well thought out.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ranting Crow · February 11, 2015

    The thing I hated the most was the grading system. Dropped out age 15 after some do over classes. Went working and still learning one day a week.
    I love learning still do and being open to information is how I learned everything, and build my opinions on.
    But the grade system always makes some look stupid and even called stupid. and instead of lifting hem up they put them down saying they will work in a gas station and probably low it up as well. My principal came to me after vacation time. asking what i was doing at their school? I was not wanted there. (I chose to go to a part time job interview over a retake of an exam. I needed the money if I wanted some fun.). With a big mouth I stated I still was obligated by law to after school and I never received a notice of not being welcome. It was a fight of all fights with more teachers adding up. a dumb ass math teacher who expelled me for making the entire book of math problems. Apparently I only needed to make those he said I would have had to make over the year. Saying you only make them once gets you at the principal office and expelled. yeah for school.

    Teachers need to motivate yet they fail in most ways. now with upcoming tablets I am not sure we will improve any time soon. as the focus now is learning fast and hard and expel those who cannot compete age 12. Yeah grades become competitions like a game. How much more is it looking like adult life.

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    • jayfel354 · February 11, 2015

      Thanks for sharing Ranting Crow. It’s good to know that there are so many people who had similarly awful times in public school. Of course there is no policy to systematically exclude so called trouble makes, but it seems like there is an underlying philosophy among teachers that leads to such exclusion. I only wish there was more options for students that think a bit differently. A one size fits all school system doesn’t seem to be doing to trick. This is especially the case with standardize tests in this country.

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      • Ranting Crow · February 12, 2015

        More than welcome. I do not know the answer, I still have to figure it out. But the programs these teachers HAVE to follow is ridiculous
        It may not be a policy but it does happen. Schools are graded to by the most points they get and the best and most graduates. So they like to see the ones who can’t get on the set average, go.

        I am sick to see my 6 year old nephew being told down because he reads a little slower. Or his friend who has trouble with some numbers. They are being pushed according a set program. Kids do pick up fast but we can’t program them like we do computers.

        School need to change. they even figured out that better grades are met if the 12 year and up start after 9. Ooh and that test are done better between 12 and 2. that is how the test system is being set up. so that teachers and kids get satisfaction over higher grades.
        It is being to ridiculous. I loved my first school teachers were honest and wanted to help. the school I talk about only cared for numbers and attracting more students by having a higher graduation percentage.

        Like

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