Discriminatory Aspects of Education
Education is often said to be the key to success in life. In fact, most parents tell their children an all familiar advice of how excelling at school and going to college is a guarantee for getting employed and future success. Without a doubt, education is vital in human development and there is no value in being illiterate especially in this information age. It is one of the critical departments of government and every presidential candidate always makes a promise of reforming it in order to make quality, affordable education available to a majority of the American public. However, the current state of the education sector in the United States is discriminative towards the students and requires urgent intervention for it to produce balanced educational services.
From my own interaction with my family and friends, one day I came about an article of how one talented athlete struggled through school but got his big break while in high school. He was good at basketball and managed to star for his high school team where he caught the attention of scouts of a major National Basketball Association team. He was finally drafted into the league. Today he is quite successful in the sport. On another occasion, I watched a documentary of how a young man with an interest in science managed to be recruited by NASA from a young age and was employed on a permanent basis. These experiences got me thinking that in order to excel at something, one needs to start early. This prompted me to question the education standards in the country in order to unearth the root cause of its problems.
The use of grading as a means of judging a student’s knowledge level is one aspect of its discriminatory nature. This is because it forces students to be more concerned with memorizing classroom materials rather than understanding specific concepts (Kohn 9). It becomes easier for them to be more concerned with passing a test or exam in order to get good grades than internalizing a particular theory. Interestingly, this notion is evident especially during exam periods whereby students can be seen flocking school libraries and showing last-grasp attention to books. They skim over the contents and memorize what they think will be tested and then head to the exam room. It is a common feature to find that on completion of the test, a reasonable number of them cannot recall those concepts. They then head to memorize more contents of a different subject and the cycle continues. This means that one can perform brilliantly in an exam but be of no use in a situation where those concepts need to be applied.
Grading also hinders social development of those who perform poorly. They are mostly ridiculed by others as being dumb and view themselves as unworthy. This is despite the fact that they could be talented in other areas. The psychological torture that accompanies the perception of a student as being smart while another as being dumb is huge. Many times students have cried and agonized when they score so lowly for they know that they have not met their parent’s or society’s expectations. They become stressed and sometimes this leads to depression, which can be suicidal. However, the most common course of action is dropping out of school and this has its own social negative effects like formation and joining youth gangs, indulgence in alcohol and substance abuse among others.
In addition, the education system is very bulky. Right from the moment a child steps into a classroom until the time he or she completes high school, the student has been bombarded with a lot of content on several subjects. Furthermore, along the course of schooling, many assignments are given and the students are required to complete all of them. Tests are also done and form a major part of the school curriculum. Unfortunately, only upon admission in college does one begin to specialize in a particular discipline or field depending on his or her passion and skills. This means that a lot of valuable time and energy is lost in learning subjects that a student does not “need”. It would have been prudent for the syllabus to be structured in such a way that from an earlier stage, a student is taught those subjects that are relevant to his or her potential.
From experience, what a student sees with the naked eye is remembered for a longer period than what is heard. This is important because most of the teachings before one goes to high school are theoretical. These teachings are not suitable for such young minds and ages because their concentration span is minimal. Therefore, what they need are lessons that are a bit involving physically in order for them to maintain maximum concentration on the subject matter being discussed. It is true that most students under this category find these theoretical lessons boring because all they have to do is sit and listen as they are handed loads of information, which they need to “store” in their brains. This is really quite taxing.
Similarly, education through schooling leads to standardization of the student’s thinking. This is because for each subject, there are specific answers to particular questions and whoever answers them according to his or her own opinion and not the stated one loses out. This means students are not allowed to be independent thinkers or make use of the wisdom that they possess (Gatto 37). This is unfair and a form of brain drain, which should not be allowed it, is not logical to call someone an intellectual whereas he or she does not make use of his or her intellect. Instead, what happens is a recycling of the same past data from one generation to another. Shockingly, the initial objective of people going to school was to standardize their thinking but more importantly, to make them controllable thus avoiding opposing views.
Consequently, fundamental changes in the education sector are needed to avoid standardization of people, make lessons more practical in nature and to reduce the volume of material that is taught at different levels of schooling. Furthermore, grading should be prohibited since it creates a show of inequality, which can be dangerous to the overall upbringing of a not-so-smart student. Finally, there should be an early detection mechanism. This should students are assessed to find out their talents, passions and preferred career choices. They then should be allowed to pursue subjects that are relevant to those fields of study from an early age. These shifts could alter the current practices in most institutions but in the long term, they are bound to be effective in solving the educational crises.
Gatto, John. Against school: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids and Why. EBSCO Publishing (2003):37. Print.
Kohn, Alfie. The Case against Grades: Educational Leadership. Education Digest Prakken Publications (2011): 9. Print
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