An education that does not adequately prepare us


Ellis Becker

“Why am I learning this information that I will never use in my life?”
If any student asks an adult this question, one that haunts our minds while in math class, he or she will be lied to.

They will receive a blank look from someone who doesn’t know any better themselves. That person will tell them that they have to get good grades to live a successful life. Although this is partially true, it isn’t the real answer. That is the orthodox answer; the answer that leads to stress, late nights and the downfall of our generation.

Our education system does not work. It is flawed, outdated and wrong. It forces students to memorize information that does not fit society’s needs, making it useless. Students begin by learning the basics, travelling more in depth throughout schooling. Therein lies the flaw. The whole system relies on preparing students for college and, in theory, their lives. But what if after finally graduating, reaching the “X” on the treasure map, all you find is a treasure chest of fool’s gold? All you find is a fancy sheet of paper with your name on it called a diploma.

One of the biggest misconceptions in the educational system is that one step will immediately follow the other. The status quo states that if you don’t do well in high school, it inhibits your chances of getting into a good college, therefore getting a good job and then having a happy life. Society’s understanding of this process leads students to believe their self-worth relies on high school performance, and that is simply wrong.
The misconception is that to reach that final goal of a happy life, the process is essential. Therefore, the goal for now is to do well in high school, forcing students to memorize, not learn.

This system will not change, despite the fact that only a miniscule percentage of this older generation will ever use the Pythagorean theorem as adults, and despite the fact that a large majority struggle to do their taxes for the first time because they did not learn how to do so.

Despite the reasoning, people will listen to the rest of society when they are told that the one student standing out in the class is not supposed to stand out. They will listen when they are told that the creative student is wrong to dislike studying what he is not interested in. They will listen when they are told that the student who does not put effort into his or her schoolwork is doing so not because they aren’t interested but because they have a learning disability.

Society itself is made up of individuals with all different kinds of thought processes, learning methods and abilities. So why are all these individuals taught in the same way, tested through the same tests and judged by the same criteria?

We constantly endorse this backward system but then somehow marvel when the Washington Post reports that the United States leads in most incarcerated persons in the world. We marvel when reports that one-fifth of our students don’t graduate high school, and we marvel when reports that we spend the most per student on education in the world yet fall short on test results to Denmark, South Korea and Japan.

This system will not cease to pump out depressed, stressed and unhappy individuals who will one day subject their children to the same. This system will not cease to make creative and thoughtful students hate school because they are forced to memorize facts about things they are not interested in. This system will be the wall our generation hits, and pushing through will be our defining characteristic.