It seems abundantly clear that the education system has gone stale. The system has been around so long and has been the same for so many years that students are more focused on getting through school rather than actually trying to learn. School should be viewed as a privilege, because having access to professional people who are willing to stand in front of you and teach you things all day is a privilege. Instead, however, school is viewed as a boring, grueling, uninspiring process that we must tolerate rather than marvel at. It is a formula: if I do this, I will get this grade. The educational system expects to fit a whole bunch of different people with different opinions, thoughts, experiences, etc. into the same mold, and they expect them to do it well or else they are considered failures.
I am completely in agreement with Megan Garber and her take on what happened to Vishal Singh. His grades were slipping because of the “distraction” of technology, and yet he still managed to ace his film critique class. Why? Obviously, Vishal worked hard on what he actually cared about. Garber says, “It seems to me that the real dichotomy here . . . is less a matter of focus vs. distraction, and more a matter of the digital age’s spin-off opposition: interest vs. non-interest. Caring vs . . . lack of.” In my opinion, school should be much more focused on students’ passions rather than forcing them to learn things for the sake of learning them. Personally, I only retained a small portion of what I learned in many of the math and science classes I have taken throughout my life. Yes, there are certain things I will always remember because of repetition of lessons and such, but generally, I do not remember much. I simply did not enjoy my math and science classes. Being an overachiever, I forced myself to keep up with these classes in any way I could, but I hated it. And since I did not hold on to most of the information that those teachers worked so hard (or in some cases, not so hard) to teach me, I really wonder if there was a point to all that time and effort.
I did retain a lot more from my english, history, spanish, filmmaking, and music classes because I have genuine interest in these subjects. My teachers were not wasting their time or energy on me because I was actually focused on what I was learning enough to feel secure in those subjects today. Garber talks about “the kind of deep-dive, myopic-in-a-good-way, almost Zen-like concentration that sparks to life when intellectual engagement couples with emotional affinity.” This is precisely what kids need to be experiencing in school. When someone is sincerely interested in something, there is no such thing as distraction. Technology is a much weaker contender to concentration if genuine love of a subject is present.
Matt Richtel’s article claims that the way the human brain is now developing with the high usage of technology is making us “less able to sustain attention” because people are constantly shifting focus. Well, the reality is that things are changing, whether we like it or not. Therefore, the education system needs to evolve with these changes. I do not even believe that more technology in the classroom is necessarily the answer. I just think that an educational system that actually focuses on individual students and their personal desires for what they want to accomplish in school should be implemented. I would much rather master subjects that I love than struggle through school focusing on subjects that just do not excite me.