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4 Ways Formal Education Failed Me

Before i delve into just why I'm writing this article, let me just preface it with a little disclaimer: I don't hate education. I think that education in some lights is great, but what I do believe is that in order to learn anything, you have to be motivated in some way, usually by yourself.

For some people, formal education serves this purpose very well. You probably know, or are, a person just like this. These are the people that learn very well through reading the material, and listening to lectures. I, on the other hand, am completely in contrast to this school of thought. Which brings me to my first reason:

1. Lack of Accommodation

I can't tell you how many times I've made a "C" on a test, but been able to explain the topic more in-depth than the teacher had. This isn't to say I'm smarter than my teachers by any means, this just happens to be my own personal gift, and the way I learn, but, when you put a test in front of me, I do not do well at expressing what I have learned about the subject by virtue of little black circles symbolic of answer choices.

I recall information best through what I like to call "Big Picture Expression"; I can tell you the merits and flaws of the information presented, what themes and ideas are being expressed, and how they were either effective or ineffective, but when it comes to the "Small Picture Expression", dates, names, places, I draw a blank. My mind functions through the connection from point to point, the "Why" and not the "Who" or "What". Yet, today's formal education system forces you to memorize facts, repeat them once or twice on tests and quizzes, and then empty them out to make room for the next unit.

2. Lack of Application

Coupled hand in hand with this forced memorization, is a lack of application that has become almost appalling. There are classes I sit in, and literally for weeks at a time I will go without learning a single useful thing. I remember sitting a few days ago in a class with some of my friends, and between the five or six of us, we could not recall a single thing we had learned and applied outside of a test or quiz.

This has become constant fodder for me frustration as i sit in classes, literally sleeping through pointless slide show after pointless slide show. All I can do is sit there and think, "You know, if I were just allowed to go home, I could be so much more productive. I could write, or catch-up on some much needed rest after all the homework from these AP classes." But, I am forced to sit and listen to some lecture that I will never remember (due both to me aforementioned learning inhibitors, and my teachers' lack of motivation to really "do" anything), and cram the night before just to pass the test.

3. Lack of Bureaucratic Rules

Ha, Just kidding. Education is spilling over the brim with regulations and guidelines that seemingly make no sense. The same rules that keep me sitting in that pointless class take on a much sillier manifestation in some circumstances. The foremost in my mind are testing regulations. How is being able to eat at my desk going to help me do better on a standardized test? How is reading once I'm done with my test, or listening to music, going to let me help the other students cheat?

Even if I was able to cheat on the test, why would I? There is almost no point as the tests, as long as you pass, literally have almost no benefit to doing well on. You could argue that there is the benefit of being exempt from your final exams, but since those are state administered as well, it's almost pointless not to take them as my grade has never been lowered from taking one. These, along with the TAKS style tests are so easy, that cheating almost doesn't even help in the first place.

4. Lack of Respect

More than all of these other failures, this is the most painful and frustrating to me day in and day out. I am forced, day by day, to be under complete creative control of men and women who almost never care enough about my opinion to take note of it. There are, however, a few exceptions; teachers who see past the label of "student" because they see that I have the ability to actually express coherent thoughts (imagine that), and I find that these teachers motivate me best, and that I, in turn, learn more from them.

The overwhelming majority is, however, quite the opposite. They will ague the complete wrong point, even when they know it, simply because they cannot admit to being wrong. I understand that, as the leader of the classroom, must maintain an appearance of being "in charge" and adamant about their philosophy, but I believe that Academia is a forum. That the best way to learn, is to exchange ideas, and discuss themes and philosophies. I don't know why so many teachers are afraid of this style of education, because if their philosophy is truly correct, then discussion won't disprove it anyway; it will only help to solidify it.

So I guess, in closing, I just hope to encourage you to motivate yourself to learn. Find what way you learn best- find your passion- and run at it.

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