America's Education System Is Fundamentally Flawed
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Wake Up America, This Whole Education Scheme Isn't Working

That awkward moment when America needs to be educated on how to educate.

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Wake Up America, This Whole Education Scheme Isn't Working

When we begin school at four, the world is still brand new and full of curious things. We don't know who we are or what we're passionate about. Learning does not yet mean headaches and tired eyes but rather arts and crafts. Numbers are colored blocks we spend hours stacking and unstacking like buildings, and geometry is no more than colored pieces of plastic formed into spaceships. There are no lectures, no powerpoints, no mindless reading of textbooks. At four, our eagerness to see, touch and understand the world still fuels our lives. So why are we all so burned out by graduation?

I experienced my own burn-out in the tenth grade because I had spent the last seven years pushing myself to the brink of excellence. After spending three weeks at a behavioral care program outside of school, I was asked a very complicated question: Do I hate learning? No, I could never. Truthfully, my interest in learning has never been the source of my problems, and I doubt others who claim hatred of such truly mean it. The true culprit of my struggles and exhaustion is the current implementation of the American education system.

Our intelligence comes in a myriad of forms but schools often provide limited opportunities to nourish them. For those who are academically talented, school is the most encouraging of environments. But what about those who sing? Where do people with have talent in design, leadership, sports, or maybe even logic puzzles fit in? The classes that offer opportunities to expand on such abilities are electives at best, and for most students, graduation credits take precedence over hobbies.

As we grow older, our homework loads grow bigger and our classes more numerous. There is no easy way to balance homework, school, extracurriculars, and personal time. In a sense, students are forced to make a decision when entering high school: do we want happiness and memories or an impressive transcript to get us into college? There is no “and" anymore — they've become mutually exclusive.

Of course, there are a significant handful of students who have mastered this essential balance but for those of us who have not been so lucky, school is a decade-long struggle. What they show you in movies isn't true. You can't be the class president, take all advanced classes and receive As all while simultaneously balancing basic needs and obligations. But we are still naive and foolishly believe that we can be superhuman, that somehow we are the exception to the rule.

Here's the thing: when students are constantly pushing their limits and forgoing health for grades, a downhill spiral begins to occur. Less sleep and food means less brain power, and less brain power means more difficulty grasping concepts in class. Time for homework increases significantly, and frustrations grow higher than ever — we stay up even later the next day just to compensate and the spiral worsens.

The result? Half of us miss out on those high school memories were supposed to laugh about later. The other half fall short of their potential in school, and the effect becomes painfully obvious during college applications. For me, it was the former. I will always regret the dances I never appreciated and the night-outs I declined. My high school experience deals more with lonely, homework-filled days than Friday nights at the local pizza joint with friends.

Something went wrong somewhere and we are too engrossed in results to appreciate the journey. The question now is how do we fix this? How do we transform a system that is fundamentally flawed and too widespread to quickly repair? They teach us the three different ways of learning — visual, auditory, and kinesthetic — but fail to make sure each student is put into the most conducive learning environment possible.

Instead, we are offered one method of learning and it's our job to mold around it. Kinesthetic learners, besides when in lab sciences, typically lack the ability to do hands-on work in classrooms. Visual learners don't excel when the curriculum is based on lectures, and auditory students will never reach their full potential if the only access they have is through powerpoints and textbook readings.

Standardized testing and the intense competition for college has created a damaging stigma in school. Those who are not in advanced classes are often stereotyped as being “slow" or “not as smart". Stupid, even. The truth is that advanced classes are just that — advanced.

Those in college-prep classes are no less smart than AP students but merely learn at different paces. How quickly you master Calculus is not a fair measure of intelligence, yet it's an unspoken truth that worsens the further we come in our education. We forget C is average, and B is above average. Those straight As we're after? They're exceptional, and now we've brainwashed to think that exceptionality is everything.

The first time I started thinking about college was seventh grade because the American education just so happens to be built on constant preparation for the next level. In seventh grade, we are no more than thirteen; barely touching the world of adolescence. The system, however, is ruthless and only exacerbates normal anxieties about our futures. Of course, I had known

what college was long before then but it had never touched my sphere of life, and it shouldn't have until high school. Even then, the constant reminder about the importance of transcripts only strengthens the idea that our grades are the final judge of our success in life. To think we spend at least twelve consecutive years constantly pushing and putting out just to one day achieve the gold standard of the American education. The SAT is saddening.

The core reason of our burn-outs is the pressure we succumb to with the increasing expectations each year. We are dynamic and ever-changing beings that have unique intelligence and methods of learning. To standardize the learning process is to force students on a single path toward success tailored for only a few. America needs a versatile education system, one that accommodates the students and provides ample room to flourish and reach our full potentials.

If not, then, in less than our year, when our hands are let go, we'll be flying full force into the real world with nothing left to give. We will be a generation exhausted of the creativity and motivation that once drove our lives. America needs a fundamental change in the education system before the love of learning leaves us all.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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