Inadequate School System

I’ve blogged about this a few times before, but the subject popped up in my head again. Prepare for a disorganized rant about the school system and its failings…

Why waste time on standardized tests in schools? EOGs and EOCs are not true measures of intelligence. I believe that every child is intelligent and has a natural willingness to learn, but not all children learn in the same way.

To learn something, that concept needs to be applied to the real world as much as possible. Like math, for instance. We are taught algebra, geometry, and perhaps even calculus, but how does that really apply? Why are we memorizing all these formulas for anyway?

Why does school have so little to do with the real world? We spend so much more of our lives out in the real world than in school, so why can’t school teach us real world concepts – or at least present abstract concepts in a real world way? In the real world, we aren’t going to sit in a room and take multiple-choice tests. We’re not going to sit in a room and listen to someone lecture for an hour.

Why do so many parents rely on teachers and the school system to raise their children for them? The child’s first teacher is always the parent. If the school is not giving the child realistic skills and experiences, then it’s time for parental intervention. There are so many things that only parents can teach: religious/spiritual values, sex ed., manners and etiquette, and many other facts of real life that will never be discussed adequately in the school, due to government or other restrictions.

I believe that students of all ages should be encouraged to volunteer and give back to the community. Some school systems already have programs in place for this.

Like EOC and EOG scores, GPAs and letter grades are not a satisfactory measure of intelligence. Just because one child does poorly in school doesn’t mean he won’t succeed in life, so don’t treat him like he’s a failure. There are countless of examples of kids who haven’t done well in school, but have succeeded in life. I won’t bother to name names, I’m sure you can think of a few.

GPA inflation in high school is another issue that bothers me. Taking the most honors or AP classes doesn’t guarantee success in real life or even in college. Vocational classes like masonry, auto mechanics, and agricultural education aren’t just for the “losers.” These kids are just as smart as the kids who load their schedules with honors and AP classes. A GPA of 5.0 may look awesome on college applications and transcripts, but how much of that 5.0 is built from real-world knowledge?

Maybe I’ll write a second post about what we can actually DO about this problem, instead of whining about it.

tl;dr version: Schools need to get in touch with the real world. Students need to be prepared for the real world and schools are failing them.

9 thoughts on “Inadequate School System

  1. As a former teacher I can identify. The parents are also the only ones that can instill respect in their child, therefore the child will show respect to the teachers who in turn can instill other values and learning etc…. only in a perfect world. 🙂

    There are schools and colleges now that teach “real life” learning. University of Phoenix (like them or not) is the school that first started using this method, via the real life collaborating, team work
    learning.

    I agree, there aren’t “tests” to take at your office job, but there is team work to be done, communicating with one another, writing, motivating, producing, getting results, working as a team.

    I am happy to know that some of the elementary schools are going in that direction and are doing away from testing everything on paper.

    I grew up in former Yugoslavia, what is now known as Serbia, and we were tested mainly by standing in front of the class and answering teachers questions. In my music school, we all had to perform 3-4 pieces of music in front of 4-5 different teachers to pass the grade. They could ask me to play any scale (I play piano) in any form and I had to know them all, which meant practicing a lot, which in turn made me a better pianist.
    Parents do have the responsibilities of teaching their children the way of life, but when they fail, the teachers take over. If they didn’t we would end up with a REAL mess!!….. worse then what we have now.
    Nada

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    1. I don’t think there’s enough emphasis placed on teamwork in public schools (at least in the district where I went to schools) and I do agree that it’s very important.

      I like the way they do things in Serbia. American schools need to allow students to practice public speaking skills and performing in front of others, since that’s a big part of the real world.

      Maybe a change will come – slowly, but surely. 🙂

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  2. What a coincidence! Yesterday in the unit Education for class 10 we were discussing the very same points – the futility of the conventional methods of assessment. As you said success in life has nothing to do with the grades we score. It always depends our attitudes and approaches. We can understand that from the stories of “kids who haven’t done well in school, but have succeeded in life.” You have presented the topic in a clear and simple way. Waiting for the second part.

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  3. Love your blogs! and so agree with you here. I struggled with the American school system after spending a few years in Canadian schools. When my oldest daughter started losing interest in school as she entered high school – we became familiar with WHO, Washington Homeschooling Organization…….4 of our children were homeschooled….. Most of their employers, have said they are better workers than their coworkers. Not only did they homeschool, but they assisted us in a small family owned business. Life skills, social skills and family values are more important in most cases than ‘schooled’ work. We as parents should be the first of teachers to our young. Unfortunately, our economy has caused both parents to work, just to make ends meet and ‘schools have become the daycares’. We need a new system for sure.

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    1. I think homeschooling (for the most part) is far better than putting kids through the public school system. I teach Sunday school and have a mix of homeschooled kids and public school kids, and I have to say that the homeschooled kids behave better, aren’t afraid to raise their hands in class, and are more enthusiastic and engaged. It really is a shame that parents don’t have the time and/or resources to take charge of their kids’ schooling.

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