The American Education System and it's Relationship with Learning | Teen Ink

The American Education System and it's Relationship with Learning

February 25, 2019
By abbyhigbee01 SILVER, Highland, Utah
abbyhigbee01 SILVER, Highland, Utah
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

At the beginning of their public school career, students have a fervor for learning. No matter what subject, the children drink it up endlessly… until it ends. They reach middle school or high school and that love of learning is squashed out of them, because just “learning for learning’s sake” is no longer valued. These children who used to have a fire in their eyes turn to exhausted overachieving high schoolers being pushed to no end by the system they are stuck in. Because “education must serve an ulterior purpose and be directed toward clear goals”, the school systems of America are only looking to get something out of the students, something they want. This complete disregard for what the students may prioritize has led to the biggest influx of mental illness (in teenagers) ever.

Why is everybody forced to go to school to learn the exact same things when not everybody is going to grow up to do the same things? Things like theater and sports and even mechanics don’t always require an education beyond high school, but the high school curriculum isn’t cooperating with what they are trying to do. They are forced to sit through hours of common core classes that they may never use again while they itch to dance or tinker or draw! These students are missing out on precious time that they could be developing their talents. The most important part of education is gaining hands-on experience, which is seldom available or easily accessible in high schools. The man who created standardized tests said himself that “These tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned” but still we continue to use them, even though they are not teaching students what they need to know for the future. The ACT, for example, is not really testing you on your intelligence, it is testing you on how well you can take the ACT. I only studied the format of the test and a few equations and got five more point than I ever thought I would, which is proof that this test is useless when evaluating the intelligence of students.

Utah county is a place of overachievers, this much is undeniable. At Lone Peak, the graduation rate is extremely high and the percentage of students who go on to higher education is incredible when compared with the rest of the country! It is an expectation that we all go to college, but nobody asks why? If you don’t need college to further your skill in a certain field, then don’t go at all or go for a different reason. While it is proven that a college education will almost always lead to better jobs and more experience, that isn’t always the case, and people shouldn’t feel like they need to go to college just because it is expected of them. For example, you can get a masters in something like musical theater and it will still not guarantee you success or financial security, even though it makes it more likely. Perhaps the reasoning for this forced uniformity in the school system is that the current system was created a hundred years ago, when everyone was being trained to work in factories and offices, where that uniformity is a necessity. If we were still using anything else from a hundred years ago (cars, phones, etc), we wouldn’t be progressing technologically, so why are we stunting student’s growth and potential by using an old fashioned and flawed system?

Not only is the school system beating students down for not being the same as everyone else, it is also leading to more depression and anxiety than ever before. If you type “school makes me” into the Google search bar, the first three automated searches are “school makes me depressed”, “school makes me want to cry”, and “school makes me suicidal”. This is a clear cry for help from millions of children in the American school system that is, for the most part, being ignored. Sure, there are organizations at schools to support mental health, but the biggest thing is being ignored: the school system and common core. Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The pressure from parents and teachers is already enough to make a teen suicidal, but considering all the other pressures such as hormonal changes, relationships, jobs, and planning for the future, it is a miracle that teenagers are making it out of high school alive. Older generations may call our generation weak, lazy, and entitled, but the opposing evidence is clear and plentiful: we are strong and angry and ready to fight for what we deserve. Never let school get in the way of your education, but also never let school get in the way of your mental health.

The author's comments:

I am a senior in High School who has always been in honors and AP classes, but still have thought I'm stupid. I wrote this essay for my AP English Language class and found that I was really passionate about the subject. I've always felt my love of learning being squashed by the school system. This is by no means an attack on the education system, this is just my opinion!

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