Education is Failing All of Us

Personally, the education system has failed me. I cannot take a test without blanking on everything I have learned; however, I can recite almost every single thing about the unit and give a comprehensive presentation, just cannot take a test on it. Education has to be multifaceted- right now, it’s a slab. 

Our schooling system has become outdated from the moment society passed the industrial revolution; it has created a wave of problems that impacts students, hindering schools from actually helping the individual learn for future success. The system has failed the students by suppressing creativity, teaching in a standardized way, and forgetting altogether about critical thinking skills and their importance to students. The utter disappointment brought on by this social system has also sparked rising hope for students to learn and foster their passions.

In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, a public school system emerged aimed at giving kids the utmost minimum basics of math, english, history, and science. At this time the term “Factory School Model” emerged, pushing the idea that these “students” were merely part of an assembly line pumping as many kids out as possible to sustain the need for commercial goods, at the time. In that era, classes were filled with 20-30 students and used a standardized system. Sound familiar? Currently, classes are filled with 20-30 students with one teacher and a standardized curriculum known as Common Core. Even 160 years later, this system remains. 

With students packed in a classroom together, the standardized approach seems like the only approach to “effectively” school everyone on a large scale. This stems from the need to teach students the same material, which cannot be taught effectively by catering to each students’ needs, as that would take away from other students; the standardized system is okay but not ultimately successful at teaching for all.

Additionally, the word “standardized” refers to the set way our society teaches students concepts which are then tested by a single exam. This inhibits the idea of learning; learning is the process of acquiring skills of understanding and knowledge and being able to put them to use. When an exam determines how much you “learn” (or rather memorization skills) it takes away from if a student actually understands the material thoroughly. For example, I would be learning if I studied the impacts of economic inequality and the connection to climate change, then used that information to make connections and awareness to the broader world. Conversely, in the education system, schooling is what typically takes place. This schooling is based on a way of educating students in schools by teaching to a test, such as the AP Tests. The difference between schooling and learning is that one evokes a sense of usefulness for the outside world while the other neglects that importance. 

Teens aren’t learning problem-solving skills, which are essential for the real world. Because the schooling system is set up as it is, problem-solving is up to the teachers. If we did have a system that allowed for creativity and critical thinking to flourish, students would be able to remain curious about topics and have interests spanning multiple different topics. 

Our education system seems like a raging wildfire with no hope. In a perfect world, I would say to just destroy the whole thing and rebuild from scratch. However, our real world is far from perfect, and our society would crumble with that approach. Hypothetically, let us say that America decided to rebuild the school system. How would they get both political parties to agree on this transition? Who would be at the forefront leading this charge, students, teachers, parents, or politicians? Would politics influence the way that a future curriculum would be shaped e.g critical race theory or not? The alternative is passion-based learning, which allows the learner to follow their passions and use that to make connections outside of the classroom. 

This is only one solution- others include approaches like project-based learning, simply teaching problem-solving skills, or getting teachers who have a passion for teaching and paying them well. Our society has the brainpower to collaborate on a solution to change the detrimental path we are falling down- it’s only a question of if we will accept it.