Hippies Taking Control

April 9, 2008
By Alyssa Whittington, Gibsonia, PA

Hippies. Everyone mocks them, everyone’s imitated them at one point or another, and too many people are becoming them. However, these revolutionary hippies aren’t the ignorant, smoking, tye-dye wearing, long-haired freaks we consider them to be. They are educated people in suits with ideas.

These people are taking over the schools, changing everything from the names of classes (Honors is now considered “Pre-AP” to make it more sophisticated) to the content of them. No longer are we taught information, tangible facts, and statistics. Oh, no. We’re being taught, “how” to learn. Isn’t the point of learning to discover things, one of them being how to do it?

I don’t learn like a lot of people. I’ve been memorizing information since I started reading, and now, suddenly, I’m told that those skills are worthless, and I have to reconfigure my entire way of thinking. I beg to differ not only because the concept of this drastic change is time-consuming, but also ridiculous.

Memorization is a necessary skill in any job, and memory, in general, just as important. Adaptation is a worthy trait, but the whole point of adaptation is that it can’t be taught, it has to be learned by the person. If you’re trying to teach me how to think, how am I learning how to think on my own? Even more, how am I able to think about information if there’s none being presented?

Granted, the system has flaws. Clearly, not all students are the same, and the one size fits all SAT or ACT aren’t the perfect methods. But can someone come up with a fairer, standard way to assess students? The structure and mastery of the essay is irreplaceable, but one can’t argue that every essay will be graded with the exact same harshness. Several of my teachers have admitted that if the essays at the beginning of the stack are particularly horrendous, then they sometimes grade the rest of them with the extra frustration. I often enjoy essays, depending on the topic, but there’s no way I could support the statement that they are a fairer assessment than multiple choice tests.

Many people struggle with test panic, including me. I’ve sat at plenty of desks, staring at the test, unsure of anything. This wasn’t due to a lack of studying, but the anxiety caused by grades. But, where many people then complain about the tests, the grading school, and the “corrupt” educational system as a whole, I take a calm breath and go into the next test, assuring myself that I’ve done everything possible and I’m prepared.
The new hippies seem to be the ones that didn’t perform well on tests, and are trying to reengineer the system to support students like them, who have difficulty with concrete assessments. They say they’re trying to get us out of the memorization stint we’ve been taught, to free our minds and be open to actual thinking. Well, I believe that forcing us to change our ways is just as restricting. Their psychedelic ideas would indeed assist those who experience test anxiety, but the rest of the students who prefer to be taught information and reflect on it on their own time are left out in the cold.

The new system is only catering to a different group of students, not the masses. Neither method, the subjective or objective test, includes a clearly dominant majority, so why must we shift the workings of our minds to fit the preferences of others? The happy medium does not exist to most of the extremist hippies that I’ve met, who still harbor rage against their own education. I can only say that their time is over, and the generations now should not be forced to correct the wrongs done during the hippies’ schooling. I want the chance to think critically and recall information if necessary. Being forced into one different box of conformity is no better than being forced into another, and shouldn’t the hippies be all about the freedom to choose your own liberation, not the command to see freedom as they do?

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