American schools have done their job for a long period of time. American educated students used to be on top of the world, but now they are steadily being knocked lower and lower on the ladder. What is the main reason for this happening?- The American school system is not changing with the times.
I have had this thought in the back of my mind since at least seventh grade when or where am I ever going to use this information that we are learning? This fact of the matter is we are not going to use much of what we learn in high school that we actually need in the real world. In “Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System is Obsolete” Erica Swallow says, “American schools educate to fill children with knowledge instead they should be focusing on developing students’ innovation skills and motivation to succeed.” “Learning” at school is not an exploration of ideas which interest us but rather an exercise to absorb as much as possible about a certain topic. Any time we seem to be learning something abstract, I ask myself if I will ever need to know this in the future.
Another reason why I find the American education system outdated is because my parents had a similar curriculum in their high schools. As we have learned in class, there has been an extreme change in how information is communicated, but this change has been larger and quicker than pretty much any of its kind. If schools teach information to us, then why should they stay rigid in the way they express it? Shouldn’t they be the first ones to change with the times- rather than the last?
I remember in third grade when I was learning how to write words in cursive. The teacher said, “You will need to know this when you get older, everyone uses it.” She could not have been more wrong. Today, I still do not write in script, and the final draft of any paper I write is done on the computer. Honestly, I have trouble remembering how to write a cursive capital letter J and sometimes confuse my capital I with the lower case b. My third grade teacher would have considered this a major problem- and necessary to correct for my future’s sake. However, I haven’t needed to write in script and made it through English class all these years quite fine (except when they ask you to write that whole paragraph in script on the SATs that was a little rough).
This little anecdote serves as a concrete example for schools failing to conform to our technological evolution. Also, it may have been difficult for my third grade teacher to see the extreme shift coming, but a pretty applicable story, and schools can do much more to cater to the changing of the times. One major area schools have not changed to is coding. The video on coding showed all different sorts of people who used coding on computers to get their ideas out to millions of people. If so many people are using it in the future, why not teach is to the kids of tomorrow in our schools? Learning how to code seems very important and not too difficult, it just has to be taught in our schools.
Just keeping this post all about me, I went to a private, Catholic high school. We did not have many choices for classes like many of my friends had at public schools. I feel like my high school was merely the epitome of an American school stuck in the 80’s. There are actually still pictures on the walls of students from the 80’s and prior. The main outlet for students to creatively express themselves are elective and arts classes. Of the art classes, we had 3 choices – art, drama, and music. For electives we had- AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Art History, Psychology, Forensic Science, Environmental Science, Newspaper, and Video Production. Pretty difficult to express yourself in an AP Chemistry class, huh?
Because of the limited amount of choices, I felt my ability to express myself- first in having the freedom to pick the class, then the classes to pick from, was tarnished. What’s worse is we had a limited amount of times we could take an art or elective class (two of each in four years was the maximum depending on how you set up your schedule). Limiting creativity in not keeping enough options open (especially when you pay extra for the private school) seems like an outdated approach toward education. In a time where one YouTube video can make you famous, staying confined to the parameters which school traps you seems counter productive. School should be the hot spot of creativity especially as America is looking for new innovators to bring the nation out from a rut.