The Unseen Side of the Current Educational System | Teen Ink

The Unseen Side of the Current Educational System

September 2, 2018
By Dukelinpoting BRONZE, Taipei, Other
Dukelinpoting BRONZE, Taipei, Other
4 articles 3 photos 0 comments

        Many people have praised Chester Carlson for his brilliant invention of the copy machine; fast, extremely productive, and especially handy, a person’s task is to simply press the button and wait for the product. However, I am certainly disgusted by this machine: not by the rancid smell and screeching sounds it creates, but by its convenience and simplicity. Isn’t this machine similar to the current educational system? Where everything is standardized. Where educators’ task is plainly pressing the button and waiting to clone students with the exact same thoughts. Albeit many believe that the standardized educational system of regulating what students will learn is the best form of education, there is an abundance of evidence illustrating how that system can destroy students’ creativity and individuality.

        One way the current educational system acts as a copy machine is by choosing same and reanalyzed novels year after year. This becomes most evident if one compares the suggested reading lists given by schools, which Time has already accomplished by collecting the top 10 reappeared books from various schools’ reading lists: these literature range from Shakespeare’s Macbeth written in 1606 to the latest book, To Kill a Mockingbird, written in 1960. Not to mention that these books are mostly outdated, but according to Time, “[these] classic texts that have monopolized school reading lists for decades” (Time). Why should we not invest more modern writings and endow students with newer concepts? Yet, many organizations have attempted to fix this problem, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) established in 2001 by the United States Congress. However, is it successful? As the educational policy analyst Diane Ravitch has stated:

        One of the unintended consequences of NCLB was the shrinkage of time available to teach anything other than reading and math…test scores became an obsession…teachers used the tests from previous years to prepare their students, and many of the questions appeared in precisely the same format every year; sometimes the exact same questions reappeared on the state tests. (Ravitch 114)

        Not only eradicating the purpose of tests, the NCLB has restrained students from learning math, history, and science; having decision-making and social skills; descrying the luscious cultural heritage of our society; discerning the various problems and disputes in our world; and most crucially, becoming conscientious and enthusiastic citizens.

        Moreover, putting the wrong emphasis can ultimately cause a task to become fruitless, and this is what many teachers are currently doing. When it comes to literature, teachers often emphasize on educating common themes instead fully analyzing a book. To take a case in point, a teacher’s guide for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry created by the Center for Learning claims, “this novel invites students to become reasoning human beings who can live cooperatively in a multicultural society” (Taylor 9); the guide then lists profuse activities related to racism for teachers to carry out, such as asking students to “mix it up” during lunch by sitting with classmates they are unfamiliar with and having students create picture books “of a character [that] faces discrimination” (Taylor 13). Not only neglecting the rich amount of literary elements hidden inside the novel for students to take away, but by including a tremendous allotted activities that are easy to be performed, one can see how this guide strongly allures to a languid and unmotivated teacher. Yet, another guide for the same novel instructs teachers to explain the functions of literary devices and discuss the pros and cons of the two types of narration found in the novel (Natbony). Undoubtedly, this guide focuses beyond the topic of racism, enabling students to deeply gouge out the literary elements and express their thoughts to the novel; on the contrary, besides acting as a veil for teachers to self-praise themselves as good educators and students to character themselves as moral and antiracist people, the first guide is completely inconsequential to education.

        Yet, many educators supporting the status quo consider the best way for students to learn is to help them analyze through drill by drill. This is evident in Papua New Guinea Department of Education’s teacher’s manual: “If students are expected to learn something, teachers must tell them what it is, and create appropriate opportunities for them” (Wilson 6). A biped with a functional brain should indeed identify the irony: how do teachers “create opportunities” for students to learn if they should “interpret the knowledge for students” (Wilson 6)? This belief not only loses opportunities for students to interpret independently, but further overcrowds the society with reiterating viewpoints. As pictured in Awantha Artigala’s popular cartoon of the educational system, when teachers are controlling a machine that pours out each student’s creativity, cloning students with the identical appearances, and insolently saying to each other, “Good” (Artigala), it is symptomatic of the fact that students are being fed upon teachers’ ideas, each walking away with the same takeaway. As Professor Benik claims, the more teachers empower students to take their own “responsibility” to handle the materials they learn and apply them actively, “the more they truly learn the material” (Benik). And so, teachers that overanalyze not only traps students from leaving the swaddling bands and become self-sufficient, but further deters students’ ability to call their shots and acquire new ideas.

        Ultimately, the current educational system is impairing students’ creativity; but it is also, more significantly, ravaging the society’s progress towards innovation. Having the repeated and overanalyzed topics, the wrong emphasis, and the malpractice of “drill by drill” can altogether result in the loss of fortuities for students to express their thoughts and creativity. Therefore, it is time for people that live inside the smokescreen to realize the need for change and stop this system from hindering societal progress and cramming replicating perspectives to our future generations.

Works Cited

Artigala, Awantha. Cartoon. Odyssey. 30 December 2011. Web. Accessed 20 June 2018.

Benik, Marla. “Talking too much and doing too much.” The 67 Worst         Teaching Mistakes. On Course Workshop, 2018,      -teaching-mistakes. Web. Accessed 20 June 2018.

Cruz, Gilbert. “Top 10 Books You Were Forced to Read in School.” Books. Time, 10 July 2010, read -in-school/. Web. Accessed 20 June 2018.

Natbony, Rachel. “How to teach Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” Teaching Guides. Prestwick House. 2018. Print.

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Sydney: ReadHowYouWant, 2010. Print.

Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: Teacher Resource. Cleveland: The Center for Learning. 2011. Print.

Wilson, Tracy. Upper Secondary Language and Literature Teacher Guide. Papua New Guinea: Department of Education. 2008. Print.

The author's comments:

This is a research synthesis paper on my opinions towards the current standardized educational system for the AP Langauge and Composition course. The literary paper discusses how the overanalyzed topics, the wrong emphasis, and the wrong practice of “drill by drill” can altogether result in the loss of opportunities for students to deeply invest and evoke their creativity and individuality. 

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This article has 26 comments.

on Feb. 21 2019 at 12:44 pm
dradillabenitez, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This article makes very valid points. I don't understand why we are required to learn things we aren't interested in. Maybe if we actually learned things we are passionate about, we would actually enjoy learning.

ashbird said...
on Feb. 20 2019 at 3:49 pm
ashbird, Myton, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree that our educational system needs to be more focused on individualized learning and not just in putting everyone through the same classes and electives.

krook2 said...
on Feb. 12 2019 at 10:33 pm
krook2, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I agree that our education system needs to focus more on each individual student.

ryanchatwin1 said...
on Feb. 12 2019 at 4:18 pm
ryanchatwin1, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
i agree are education should be more individualized towards each persons interests

krook2 said...
on Feb. 12 2019 at 11:02 am
krook2, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I agree with this 100%. I dont think we are being pushed to our full potential.

mccoy_murray said...
on Feb. 12 2019 at 11:00 am
mccoy_murray, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I totally agree we need to individualize the educational system to fit kids personal interest and education. If we have a kid that wants to be a doctor then lets give him the time and oppurtunitys to be a doctor not filling up his credit with random unneeded electives that we are required to have

rmurphy said...
on Feb. 11 2019 at 4:32 pm
rmurphy, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with what the author said. Teachers are very opinionated on things and they will teach us their opinions instead of letting us form our own. When we were younger we would love school because they cultivated our creativity and let us grow. As school goes on people come to hate school since it snuffs out the life and creativity that used to fuel us in our younger lives.

Griffy_Boi said...
on Feb. 11 2019 at 4:30 pm
Griffy_Boi, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with this statement whole-heartedly, as it is ironic how praised our education system is, when it is really a crumbling structure held together with nothing more than duct tape and gold stars. But I feel that the wrongs are not entirely the teachers' fault, it makes sense that they'd be exhausted and unmotivated, as they are expected to live on low wages. They also are required to dedicate their own unpaid time to making sure they get everything done on time, often staying up into late hours of the night to grade or create assignments, only to wake up early the next day. The job would be difficult even without these conditions, as it is very difficult to take time off for sickness or just a breather day. Before we expect teachers to pull even more weight than they already do, I suggest maybe we fix the conditions and wages so that maybe they can successfully educate students later on.

bombdiggity said...
on Feb. 11 2019 at 4:29 pm
bombdiggity, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with this article, in the sense that we aren't using our full creative potential as students and that the educational system is trying to conform each student specifically to be the exact same.

theron516 said...
on Feb. 11 2019 at 4:09 pm
theron516, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I do agree with this article, although it feels like a wound left open. It didn't really seem like it proposed a proper solution to this problem, but that it left it in a negative feel that plagues us and won't go away.

nino7300 said...
on Feb. 6 2019 at 10:58 am
nino7300, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with this completely. The educational system should help more with our talents and passions. Also everyone learns the same things so we are basically controlled on what we do, and how we act.

amyar3val0 said...
on Feb. 5 2019 at 10:02 pm
amyar3val0, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with this. The schools are just pushing away our creativity and talents. The supposed schools are only hindering our potential and instead are forcing us to become little paper people that are just like the rest.

rhardinger said...
on Feb. 5 2019 at 4:35 pm
rhardinger, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I think the educational system is in place to better ourselves academically, artistically, and socially. I find that they are only focusing on our academic talents. The education board should be listening to what we have to say. What we have to say may be what they need to prepare us for the world after school.

charmston2 said...
on Feb. 5 2019 at 4:25 pm
charmston2, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
The educational system should help us identify our talents and passions and help us develop them over the required 12 years of schooling.

ammongarcia said...
on Feb. 4 2019 at 9:22 pm
ammongarcia, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with this. Everyone is learning the same things and everyone is turning into robots and not themselves.

on Feb. 4 2019 at 8:47 pm
sade-millerrr, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree as well. I think we need to start preparing for our lives in school, instead of watching movies in english class. School should be designed for us students.

allieearl said...
on Feb. 4 2019 at 7:21 pm
allieearl, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I totally agree! We should be able to learn things that will help us in the future, not things that helped people in the past. We need to prepare for the things that we are going to experience and as of right now we are just learning about things very other kid is learning. I think schooling should be specified to our desires.

rsnowman said...
on Feb. 4 2019 at 10:52 am
rsnowman, Kljhgsw, Arkansas
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Stop complaning

malwalker said...
on Feb. 2 2019 at 1:30 pm
malwalker, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I completely agree with this article. For eight hours a day, we are told what to think, how to act, and how to speak; We are set up in straight rows like factory workers and it's disrespectful if we speak without raising our hand; Some teachers rarely let students use the restroom; We're only given a small break to eat, which isn't enough time btw; and, we're treated like trash by some teachers, like they believe that they are so superior to all of us.

CodyLamb said...
on Feb. 1 2019 at 2:36 pm
CodyLamb, Roosevelt, Utah
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
The idea of a strict set of codes upon which one learns at times seems appealing in a world that becomes less and less routine though the way they go about it seems wrong at times for it appears that starting younger and younger the focus has always been education of the youth of this nation and while that sometimes works it seems like their may be a less helpful secondary goal

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