Marissa Smock wrote her final college paper on May 5. She died of an asthma attack two days later. Friends asked if I would post it. Of course.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
This I Believe
5 May, 2015
This I Believe
We are a nation that prides ourselves in coming in first place, from the Olympics to our economy. Yet, if we take a step back and look at how successful this nation really is… we’re actually failing; we’re failing our students in the world of education. According to Person’s article called, “Cognitive Skills and Education Attainment, the United States is ranked number fourteen in the world for our education system. So what is our response to such a ranking?
Yep, that’s right, we create more rules and regulations that apply all schools are capable of coming out with the same results and success rates. Wrong. America is ignorant of the fact that we should follow another nation’s education system (for example, ranking #2 in the world, Finland), and/or ask the students what they would like to change. And if you’d ask me, I’d say our high school curriculum (that’s supposed to prepare us for college), is our nation’s Achilles heel.
I will never forget the feeling of disappointment when I would sign up for classes to take in high school. So many rules on what I could and could not take, required to have five main core classes only leaving one or two spots open in my schedule to finally add a class that I’d like to take. High school should be a place that preps you for the next level of education, not a place where you have no say in what you want to learn and how you want to learn it. According to the National Governors Association, nearly 60 percent of the jobs in the labor market, require post-secondary education, and that number is expected to continue to increase. Our education system is all tangled up in testing and “getting the grade” that we don’t focus on the individual needs and wants of each student. If a student could pick what he/she wanted to learn then drop-out rates would lower, more students would be motivated to go to college, and our educational ranking would possibly get us up to the top in the world. For example, my high required a minimum of two years of a foreign language and although that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is because the students that were in the class just to take it in order to graduate didn’t try as hard and held back the class from advancing. And not to mention, teachers would actually be motivated to teach because they will finally have students that want to take their class. This system would be similar to that of a four year college which will significantly prepare one for the next level.
If the standard high school curriculum of core classes, placement testing, standardized testing, exit exams, etc., were to be eliminated, not only would the success rate of the school and a student’s personal performance increase but their health will increase. We are or have been a student before and we’ve all had stress over test taking, project finishing, and “busy-work” homework preventing us from activities such as exercise, social gatherings, and sleep. If teachers gave less homework in class and less tests to stress about then students would have the time to balance out their lives with positive outlets and relieve stress. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), American 15-year-olds spent an average of six hours a week on homework in 2012, yet teens from countries like Korea and Finland spent less than three hours a week on after-school work, and when you look at the world ranking of Korea and Finland, they place first and second with the best education system. In my honest opinion there is no way the average American teen spends only six hours a week on homework and performs well. If students were spending only six hours a week on homework then why are there so many sleep studies on teenagers not getting the recommended seven plus hours of sleep a night? Yes, cell phones and social media play a role but we all know it’s the busy work teachers give us that are preventing us from sleeping and relieving our stress. Other than inducing stress and anxiety on students because of excessive amounts of studying and homework, more and more teens are (according to the NSF poll), were likely to say they worried about things too much (58%) and/or felt stressed out/anxious (56%), and many of the teenagers surveyed also reported feeling hopeless about the future, or feeling unhappy, sad or depressed. Depression can lead to suicide which is not something we should brush off our shoulders like it’s nothing.
I believe that our education system is corrupt into thinking that students are just a number and that scores matter over the cognitive and mature development of a teenager (high school student), into a young adult college student. High school needs to allow students discover what they’re interests are by allowing them to select the courses they want to take. Also, testing should be spread out and not determine how smart a student is or how well a teacher can teach for a number on a piece of paper does not represent a student’s full potential.
Ourtimes. “OECD Education Rankings – 2013 Update.” Signs of Our Times. N.p., 10 Apr. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Conklin, Kristen D., Bridget K. Curran, and Matthew Gandal. “An Action Agenda for Improving America’s High Schools.” National Governors Association, 2005. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment.” Index Ranking. Pearson, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“Teens and Sleep.” Sleep for Teenagers 4. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Marisa Smock at 4:11 PM