Changing Education: Can We Change Our Future ?

School. Isn’t it a word that gives you a mix of unpleasant emotions? Mostly boredom, right? I think the majority of students can agree that school is uninteresting and boring. But what is it that makes it so disappointing to go to school? Why aren’t we excited to learn something new? There is an endless list of reasons, starting from the absence of encouragement for creativity and innovation to the mental stress caused by the amount of pressure that is placed on students. Think of all the classes that are not even preparing our generation for what the real world has in store for us. 

Our education curriculum is a highly controversial subject. Many might agree that school is a place to learn and prepare for the future. Others may think that school is meant for imagination and originality. However, have you ever wondered what is really being taught in schools? I am sure many parents have helped their children with their homework. Well, why don’t the problems on their math worksheet ring a bell? Education has changed so much that some of what is taught in school doesn’t actually prepare us for the future, nor does it encourage creativity. It is true that assignments such as projects and other mind-stimulating activities do encourage innovation and can possibly prepare us for what reality has in store for us, but not all tasks that are given are like this. For example, I am certain many students struggle with math, and it’s not because they are not paying attention in class or that they do not do their work- it is because some of the topics are downright unnecessary! From Pre-kindergarten to approximately the sixth grade, all math topics that are taught are likely to come about in real life. Unlike these necessary topics, advanced math concepts such as algebra and calculus are only known to be useful in certain fields of study. According to Andrew Hacker from the New York Times, about 30-45% of high school students across the nation fail to complete high school, and the main reason is algebra. Why should we allow these rates to increase? 

Aside from this problem, the scarcity of teachers that enjoy their job is an issue that many of us have probably seen before. Very rarely do we see an energetic teacher who inspires and motivates their students to think outside the box. Why is this? Well, according to Paul Murphy from Teacher Habits, in a 2015 AFT (American Federation of Teachers) survey, 89% of the 30,000 teachers stated at the start of their career that they were excited about their jobs. When they took the survey during their career, just 15% agreed with this statement. We know that a teacher’s pay scale is very less compared to other professions. The average pay for school teachers in the U.S is between $30k to $75k per year. How do we expect the best to take up this career unless they are really passionate about teaching? 

Other than these two issues with our current education system, there is one more major issue that is completely ruining, and even ending, student lives- over competition in schools. There are countless negative effects due to this type of competition. Though you might say that competition allows you to focus on one goal, learn how to win and lose, and to value teamwork, there are various reasons why competition can negatively affect a child. According to Katie Hurley from U.S.News, what all this competition in schools really does is cause stress, fracture friendships, and quickens childhood. Why do we need to compare ourselves with others in order to feel good? Why do we risk our mental and emotional health just for the sake of competition? Many teenagers have ended their lives because of the amount of stress they have to handle every day. In certain highly competitive schools, teachers expect top performance from their students. Everyone is merely aiming for a 4.0 GPA, top colleges, and having an A+ in every subject. Think about it for one second- the suicide rate for teens is over 100,000 adolescents every year. Why are we allowing this to happen? In California, January of 2018, a 16-year-old left this suicide note that made everyone wonder if there is too much being asked of students- “one slipup makes a kid feel like the smallest person in the world. You are looked at as a loser if you don’t go to college or if you get a certain GPA or test score. All anyone talks about is how great they are or how great their kid is. It’s all about how great I am. It’s never about the other kid. The kid who maybe does not play a sport, have a 4.0 GPA, but displays great character. So much pressure is placed on the students to do well that I couldn’t do it anymore.” Many sorrowful stories like this circulate around the internet. After reading them, we should put ourselves in our children’s shoes and understand how they really feel about all the stress that is placed on them. I think we can all agree that comparing ourselves with others just weakens our potential and ruins our true personality.

Well, now you’re wondering what we can do to prevent these conflicts. In an ideal world, I would love for the education system to be completely rethought and changed. Though this is difficult and time-consuming, one way to bring awareness to this issue is to give suggestions. I have a few ideas that I would love to be taken into consideration when we start to think more about the conflicts with our current education system. Firstly, our habits are built into us when we are kids. So, when we are young, we should spend our days in school practicing appropriate social behavior. Of course, core subjects should be taught as well since learning important topics when you are young will allow you to remember them better in the future.

Social skills are the foundation for positive relationships and communicating effectively with others. By adding social skills as a priority in our education curriculum, students will learn and understand human values better than before. Some schools may be adding this to the curriculum for students who are in Pre-kindergarten to Kindergarten, but we should extend the learning of these skills into elementary school as a priority. Furthermore, promoting yoga and meditation in schools is significant as it allows children to learn stress-free and definitely has a positive long-term effect on psychological and physiological health and wellbeing.  According to Candy Gunther Brown from Scroll.in, more students in the U.S from ages 4 to 17 during the years 2007 to 2017 practiced yoga and meditation, and this is because more programs for yoga and mindfulness were being established in schools. These programs had positive effects on its participants. Both yoga and meditation are scientifically proven to have an impact on lives based on how it enhances student behavior, mental state, health, and overall performance outside and inside of school. So, why not try it out? Lastly, the current education system seems to always be in a rush to teach students everything. Instead, we should slow down, pace ourselves, and focus on what we really need to learn.

Understanding and considering the problems that we are dealing with in our education system is not enough; in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, we must be the change we want to see. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute- everything will stay the same unless we act upon our conflicts. We must reduce the amount of pressure placed on students, we must give a proper salary to those who deserve it, we must promote originality- we must change the future of education.

This is my first published article that I have created as a Global Awareness Challenge Ambassador. As a student aspiring to become an educator, I believe that education is a significant part of every child’s life. Anything that is taught to anyone, no matter where or how they are learning it, must be taught the right way. For these reasons, I have contributed to changing the future of education by participating in the EmpowerAndHelp Global Awareness Challenge. Join #EmpowerAndHelpGlobal Challenge and be the change you want to see! Can you be a difference in our world?

True Meaning of Life: As we grow older, we start to think that life is about comparing ourselves with others and becoming the best of the best- but this is the worst way of thinking. Life is really about finding our purpose and accomplishing our goals; we shouldn’t spend our time pressurizing ourselves and being someone we are not. 

[By Eesha Boddu, is Global Awareness Ambassador from New Jersey]

Resources

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html
    • The New York Times- Opinion: Is Algebra Necessary?
  • http://teacherhabits.com/half-of-teachers-dont-like-their-jobs/
    • Teacher Habits- Half of Teachers Don’t Like Their Jobs
  • https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-03-08/how-toxic-competition-is-ruining-our-kids-and-what-to-do-about-it
    • U.S.News- Toxic Competition in Schools are Ruining Students
  • http://www.yoga4classrooms.com/yoga-4-classrooms-blog/scientific-evidence-for-yoga-and-mindfulness-in-schools-how-and-why-does-it-work
    • Yoga4Classrooms- Scientific Evidence for Yoga and Meditation in Schools
  • https://scroll.in/article/923350/is-yoga-blurring-the-lines-between-religion-and-relaxation-in-us-schools-a-professor-says-yes
    • Scroll.in- Yoga is Good for Students (Real-Life Examples)

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