“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, says former South African President, Nelson Mandela. While this statement is very true, there are a few caveats to this statement. If students do not want to reap all the benefits of education, they will not be as likely to change the world. In addition, the quality of instruction should facilitate learning. Also, students should be allowed to have fun in addition to learning. This allows schools to cater to the agenda of the student and the classroom rather than the school board, college board, etc.
I believe that school should be about giving students useful information that they can use later on in life, rather than what is like today, which is a thoughtless endeavor that people want to just get over with. Therefore, there are many ways in which the education system can be improved. What education is, can be described in numerous ways. I like to describe education as gaining knowledge that will then be used to succeed in the workplace and outside of educational institutions. The idea of education has lasted throughout history and it has evolved to what it has come to today.
In America, we can see a very restricted environment where students are expected to do everything that is told to them. We use a method of teaching and testing which does not really facilitate learning, instead students are motivated by a system of rewards and punishments rather than by curiosity or by any real desire to know. A good system of education would include involving the students themselves and allowing them to ask questions and be interested in what they are learning. They need to be able to enjoy what they are learning, and this can be helped by allowing them to choose what they learn in high school.
In the lower grades, students should also have a very open and investigative environment but it should be slightly broader to help the students figure what they enjoy. The environment should not be very stressful; children will have more of that in the future. Literature is one way we can find out how the educational institution works today. In particular, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave can be interpreted to be talking about the educational system. In this allegory, three prisoners sit staring a wall, in which they see shadows from puppeteers in the background.
One day, one* of the prisoners is freed and forced to go outside to the real world. At first everything is so difficult to see and understand due to him being used to the prison, but eventually he understands that this reality is much better. After realizing this, he goes back to free the other prisoners, who immediately refuse, because the prison is what they are used to and they think the free man is the insane one. The cave itself can be interpreted as school, with the outside being the real world.
The free man can be thought of as a someone looking to reform, the puppeteers are teachers, who just present the information and the remaining two prisoners can be thought of as the school board who does not really like change and leaves things as they are. This whole allegory opens up numerous ways in which our situation can be ameliorated today. One way that education can be improved today is by ensuring students are motivated to learn. For example, in the documentary “Two Million Minutes”, Xianguan, a successful Chinese student, does all his work because he is motivated and likes his classes.
Perhaps if he did not enjoy his classes as much, he would not have succeeded as much. Xianguan is one of many students who are like this. Thus, if more students enjoyed the course material, would there not be more work done? Students definitely learn better when the course material is something they like. I can personally attest to this as I am taking many classes right now, of which, some I enjoy and some I do not. For instance, I thoroughly despise my math class which I am doing the worst out of all my classes. And I am doing the best in my AP U. S. class and French, showing that the grade you get correlates to how much you enjoy a class.
As a result of this, you will also retain much of the information that you want and basically try to forgot to the rest. One of my friends has an interesting way of doing this. In short, she burns all the previous year’s schoolwork she doesn’t want in a huge bonfire. This is an extreme example, but it just reveals students’ mentalities. This idea can be reinforced with help from science. That is, the brain can only store so much information in our brains. This is because the more stimulated you are, the greater the density of your neurons are and thickness of cortical thickness in your frontal lobe (def).
This is why if you enjoy certain subjects, you might remember them better than those that you did not enjoy. In my case, I know that I did not enjoy my chemistry class, but I did enjoy my biology class. As a result of this, I am seeing the applications of biology outside of school, but I do not see any applications of chemistry. In addition, I can still remember many facts from biology whereas I can barely remember anything from chemistry. Science is Another way that education can be improved today is with the addition of highly qualified teachers.
This is where the proceedings get a little bit complicated, the question of what highly qualified means, needs to be asked. In my opinion, highly qualified means at least a master’s degree. The idea of highly qualified teachers having a master’s degree comes from Finland, arguably the most successful school system. In addition to this, the competition to get into a teaching program at a college is very competitive and therefore, the cream of the crop become teachers. One of the reasons they are so successful is the fact that all the teachers have much experience, and will most likely have a good idea of what to do and how to do it.
This can be compared to the United States teaching criteria in which secondary and middle school teachers are required to have at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Colleges tend to be more lenient accepting applicants and as a result the teachers might not always be the best. For example, in my high school itself, I have personally had a few teachers who are very incompetent at teaching such as my accounting teacher sophomore year, or my French teacher freshman year. While these teachers seem to think to know what they are doing, in reality they were just lazy and had a terrible teaching style.
It was not just me, many of my classmates could not understand what was going on in class, even my more hardworking friends. As an illustration, many days my accounting teacher would give us a ten minute PowerPoint and then we would have to figure out how to finish some busy work worksheets with the rest of the class time. There are not just a few instances of situations like these, there are an abundance. Just ask any high schoolers if there are any classes in which the teacher does not help them learn. Another way in which American schools can be improved is by reducing the emphasis placed on sports in schools today.
While sports can have quite a few benefits such as physical fitness, time management, and learn skills such as teamwork and cooperation, the negatives of high school sports generally outweigh the positives. Sports generally take a lot of time out of a student’s day, time that could be used for academics, hobbies, family, etc. In addition, there is a lot of pressure on students, which can be compounded with the academics. Also, injuries are very rampant in high school sports and can cause much discomfort, which can thereby affect the quality of student’s life.
A study done in 2013 showed that there were about 1. 5 million serious injuries because of sports. I myself am a student athlete and I have experienced all of the above. During the crew season in the spring and fall, I spend upwards of three-four hours at practice and this often leads to me falling behind in academics and very late nights. In addition, there is a sizable amount of pressure as it is every man for themselves and you have to keep pushing yourself immensely if you want to be on the best boat. Additionally, when I did track, my calves were always extremely tight and it would be an everyday struggle for me. Clearly, the negatives of doing a sport outweighs the positives.