Reformation of 2008: Real Life Education

April 6, 2008
By Catherina Yang, Syosset, NY

Present within all societies, education is a foundation for future generations and should, therefore, be treated with care and thought. Education serves as the hope for opportunity, which is the reason why society has put so much emphasis on it. Throughout history and up to the present, there have always been arguments on the ideal system of education. It seems as if the best proposal is to expose students to what education is intended to teach: the real world.

With different opinions of education, some prefer to retain the traditional system, yet it is hard to follow through when so many problems have risen from the unreformed American education system. With society’s preoccupation with materialistic things, generations of teenagers have, unfortunately, been isolated from reality and forced into an “artificial intensity of a world defined by insiders and outsiders.” (Botstein 67) With national incidents like the Littleton shooting, it is becoming more evident that high schools mold students into “cliques…which the insiders hold sway because of superficial definitions of good looks and attractiveness, popularity and sports prowess.” (Botstein 68) Furthermore, isolation has led many students to give into the system’s pressure from traditional practices. In so many parts of the country, students are suffering dearly from stress to become valedictorians to the point where competition has risen to law suits. (Talbot 1) Popularity, cliques, and ranking is not what makes up reality; reality consists of hard work, persistence, and the application of knowledge. It is reasonable to argue how such criteria are appropriate to categorize people in high school and even in the real world. Such practices have increased the differences between high school experience and real life experience, causing teenagers to have a hard time coping and adjusting to the tasks presented in reality after graduating from high school.

Looking at another perspective, the other most bothersome aspect of the education system is that even the source of knowledge fails to perform its task efficiently. A history teacher “trying to protect his students’ innocence/ he told them the Ice Age was really just/ the Chilly Age, a period of a million years/ when everyone had to wear sweaters.” (Collins 1) Like this history teacher, other teachers try to “protect” their students and refrain from distasteful subjects like “The Spanish Inquisition” and “The War of the Roses” due to “poor quality of recruitment and training for high school teachers”. (Collins 3) (Botstein 67) Although filled with beneficial intentions, teachers can do more harm than good by failing to provide students with all the available information even if the information is unpleasant to hear. By doing this, students lose contact with reality and become secluded in an illusionary paradise where nothing goes wrong and everything is white and happy. Consistently, the education system does not succeed in intermixing reality and education; high schools become factories to produce recluses. These recluses can easily be affected by pressures to act or look a certain way. Even if a young girl may want to cry, which is perfectly normal in the real world, classroom pressure disallows her to express herself and only suppresses her sadness and anger; the teacher fails to acknowledge the hardship that the student is undergoing and only worsens the situation by “pretend[ing] like everything’s okay” or by supporting the pressure to be “eleven”. (Cisneros 3) With the separation of reality and education due to teachers and isolation, students are failing to learn and to apply skills to real life situations.

The logical reformation to the American education system consists of interlocking aspects of educational institutes and of reality. In short, the ideal process of providing students with optimal education is to make the “school-room [look] like the world.” (Emerson 21) Like the real world, when a student accomplishes a worthwhile task that shows wisdom, understanding, or passion, he or she should be applauded just as society praises and rewards those who have made a contribution to the community. (Emerson 21) To apply this theory to America’s education system, every single level in the educational process would have to be restructured. Due to the tendency of puberty to arrive earlier than previous generations, it can be proposed to strip the education system of middle and junior high schools and start high school in seventh grade so students can graduate at the age of 16 where they will be ready to handle the tasks laid by society. (Botstein 68) It would be best for students to “enter the real world, the world of work or national service, in which they would take a place of responsibility alongside older adults in mixed company.” (Botstein 68) Instead of continuing to attend a defective institution designed to “teach”, students can enter the real world at the age of 16 where they “are prepared to be taken seriously and to develop the motivations and interests that will serve them well in adult life.” (Botstein 69) With the help of the real world, students can learn to accept the unpleasant side of things as well as avoid forming unnecessary cliques based on ridiculous reasons. This simple task enables one to “lend an arm and an encouragement to all the youth of the universe.” (Emerson 22)

In the mist of the chaos that eludes society today, time should be taken to realize the condition and state at which the education system is in right now. Although many conservatives choose to remain with the traditional values, others beg to differ, coming with bolstering facts and opinions about the education system today. The institution itself works as an isolated synthetic world produced by irrational factors, but within the institution lays those supposed “teachers” and “masters” of knowledge, who in reality tend to digress the students’ state of maturity and development through unviable practices. The ideal proposal lies in reaching to the initial intention of education, which is to produce efficient civilians. Allowing students to reach out into the real world to learn through experience is certainly a simple and efficient axiom.

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