Disclosure: I'm a passionate informal educator and I have a few years of experience as a high school teacher for English as a second language and Physics. I don't want to say education is unneeded, I simply wish it would change for the better. So let me get on with my point.
If we make a simple survey of how many students enjoy studying at school and how many of them use the studied material later in life we would get tragic results that seem OK to us only because we are used to them. Kids hating school should not be the norm and the fact that we accept it as a normal part of life only shows how deeply our educational system's inadequacy has screwed us up. It's high time we faced the facts with open minds, spotted the problems and fixed them (which might mean throwing away the old system and starting anew). Education should be enlightening, exciting, and empowering, and not something that resembles a torture chamber in a dark dungeon. So let's try to spot what's wrong.
- It's a legacy system
- Most of it is a waste of time
- The wrong public mindsets are perpetuated by this system
- One size never fitted all
- The grading system is based on the wrong values
- It values dry knowledge higher than applicable skills, progress, personality and creativity
1. It's a Legacy System
So let's start by facing a truth that we are all aware of on some level, but usually try no to face - our educational system is archaic. It emerged in the time of the Industrial Revolution and it is designed to cater to that time of history and not current social reality. Education is still trying to grind children down to the size that would fit the needs of the industrial revolution. We can see this in the way we assign importance to different subjects. The most important subject in school is still Maths, followed by languages, sciences, humanities with arts and music at the very bottom. This is the value that was assigned because of the needs of the Industrial Revolution and nobody had the guts to revise the curriculum in such a way that would be more adequate to the modern society which allows creative types equally lucrative career opportunities as engineers. Designers, musicians, artists, dancers and actors can actually do pretty well in the contemporary world.
Additionally, the mode of teaching hasn't changed since the Middle Ages, but we'll go deeper into this in a few seconds.
2. Most of it is a Waste of Time
It's not a secret that we only use a minuscule part of the things that we've learned at school. I know the argument that studying all of those subjects expanded our brains and though us thinking, but I see this as a cheap cop out. Most of us spend between 11 and 13 years in education before we even start talking about a specialized degree and it's between 2 and 3 times the time people spend studying in the university. It is inexcusable that we have so little useful life knowledge and skills. We study so many details and we never get the big picture. We learn to do things that most us will never use in their jobs or personal life. No disrespect to the teachers and principals of the world, but if this is what we have to show for, we are all wasting our times.
And I know there are alternatives. The students could and should spend much more of their time thinking critically, analyzing information themselves instead of just learning it, do real things, develop their talents and build quality relationships and communities. What we get instead is a river of dry facts, alienation and conformity.
Additionally, I'd like to point out that I'm not saying we should completely throughout Biology, Physics or Math, but we should try to dig ourselves out of the unnecessary details and try to see and understand the big picture. Let's put the emphasis on the really fascinating stuff like the beauty, complexity and diversity of life instead of knowing each and every chemical reaction that is part of the Krebs cycle for Biology. Let's put the emphasis of Physics on the miseries of the universe and the mindbogglingly paradoxes of the quantum world instead of solving interchangeable mathematical problems and learning formulas by heart. Let's use Math class to talk about statistics and use it to analyze our own schools, lives and communities striving to understand things that matter to us and learning to do the math that goes with the analysis along the way. When there's a will, there's a way. We just need to recognize the deficiencies and start addressing them.
3. The Wrong Public Mindsets are Perpetuated by this System
Our educational system is based on assigning ranks to everything. We are though to believe that some jobs and lines of work are better than others and that we all have to live our life as if it's a race. Our education system ranks both us and itself at every chance it gets in order to let us know that most of us are unsuccessful and not part of the the top. It seems like there are predestined paths and each path has a certain rank and we all have to struggle in order to occupy the top paths instead of our peers. We measure success only with how far along a path like that we are.
Some successful people that didn't do well in school
- Albert Einstein (physicist)
- Steve Jobs (entrepreneur)
- Bill Gates (entrepreneur)
- Thomas Edison (inventor - dropped out of high school)
- Andrew Jackson (US president - dropped out of high school)
- Robert De Niro (actor - dropped out of high school
The list goes on and on, but this is a pretty good sample from it.
But if we think about it we will come to the conclusion that all of this paths are imaginary and therefore they should not be part of our education. The valuable members of society that drive progress and make everyone's lives better and the ones that are not burdened by such preconceptions and the ones that are always looking for new unexplored ways to lead to new places. Our education is based on stereotyping people and so is our society.
What the current system brainwashes us to think about life is that we should conform rather than innovate and we all know that this is actually wrong. We are though obedience instead of personal development and a strive for social betterment and reform. This is an immense weight holding the progress of the whole human race down.
4. One Size Never Fits all
Unfortunately, our educational system is built on the idea that everybody's mind works in a similar way and our job is to retain information and use it. We've known for decades that there are at least 8 different types of intelligence with a whole rainbow of things in between and different mixtures. There is no doubt that each of us has been given a unique mind, but our schools fail to take that into account. Our way of thinking is chiseled down to something that would fit the square subject that somebody has chosen for us until it takes the same shape. When a student has a unique talent, they are told to suppress it in order to bombard their mind with useless piles of grey factual information.
Pink Floyd's Take on the Educational System
Each of us is different and each of us needs a different potion of skills and knowledge in order to develop to our full potential. If somebody has a particular talent, they should be allowed to develop it. While we are in school, our uniqueness is simply collapsing under the burden of an unnecessarily crammed school curriculum that wants to turn us into walking encyclopedias with little original taught. A musician should be allowed to be a musician, a mathematician should be allowed to be a mathematician and a runner should be allowed run.
We need to have a much more flexible school curriculum that is based on achieving success in practical tasks by using each student's strengths and talents and there are so many ways to make our schools a much more suitable place for human children instead of the meat-grinders that they are today.
5. The Grading System is Based on the Wrong Values
Being graded in school can actually be quite degrading. Assigning a quality value to a young human being is simply not humanistic. Being graded all the time is actually crippling the students. People learn the most from their mistakes, but mistakes are the worst thing one could do in the context of contemporary schools. We are rewarding following blindly, instead of thinking, risking, evaluating and creating. The best way to get the good grades is to do things exactly in the way you are told to.
But even if we forget the lacking morality behind the grading system, we can easily see that it's far from adequate. The world is full of people that got good grades in school and failed in life and people that got bad grades in school but succeeded in life. This means grades are simply measuring the wrong things and there is no way around it.
I often hear the people saying that grades are imperfect, but there is no better way to do it. This is exactly the type of thinking that results from being graded for the most part of your life. To them I say that there is actually no worse way than grading and we should get rid of it as soon as possible and start building a system that would foster individuals who know how to push the progress of humanity forward. Because progress and innovation starts with embracing mistakes and failure and taking a risk in order to get to a greater good.
6. It Values dry Knowledge Higher than Applicable Skills, Progress, Personality and Creativity
In a way this is my main point and it should require little more explanation by now. The sad truth about modern education is that it works to destroy creativity, personality and personal initiative in favor of standardizing people and their minds in order for them to fit better in to a the factories of 200 years ago.
The modes of teaching are even older - coming from the Middle Ages. There is a teacher that tells you what to think and all your duties are to write it down. And if you don't do what you are told, you are going to be punished. We need to read our textbooks and learn the dry facts as if we are 100% sure they are all true. Until next year somebody will disprove or expand our knowledge on the topic.
Cast your vote
Naturally there is an alternative. The teachers should be facilitators of discussions and counselors that help you set and reach your personal progress goals and your class's progress goals. Students should learn how to do real things, learn real thing together with their peers utilizing each other's strengths and overcoming individual weaknesses together. Students should be encouraged to create and to shape their own paths. There is an abundance of informal educational projects that have had great success and schools and teachers that have started grass-roots reforms for their small educational communities. We need to wake up to this idea and start exploring. As long as we are asking the questions, the answers will present themselves. And this is how we should educate. We need to embrace the notion that this system has to go - from bottom to top.
Being creative doesn't come from learning information and strict procedures for analysis - it comes from challenging the norms and thinking outside the box. Sadly our schools are currently the box - a prison of the mind.
I would like to see an educational system that embraces independent thought, personal talents, making mistakes along the way, humanistic values and fostering creativity and uniqueness. I'm sure that if we decide to open our eyes to the inadequate education we are paying for and throw the old system away, we will inevitably come to something infinitely better. It will not only make the younger years of our lives more enjoyable, but our society more open, tolerant and productive.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Julia L. on June 17, 2020:
I totally agree with this, especially the last point. Students, such as myself, should be encouraged to use their imaginations when going through their lives, such as drawing, music, writing, or anything else they enjoy, instead of stuffing useless knowledge down their throats. The problem I most have with school is that when we are forced to give up creativity, the teachers make us feel ashamed if we don't give the good grades that they ask for. Parents, too. School can cause parents to put a lot of pressure on their kids. This often promotes toxic parenting and can cause the child to suffer emotional abuse. Also a point, students should learn crucial life skills starting in middle school, such as social skills or paying taxes, instead of learning history. I mean seriously, when is anyone going to use their old school history lessons later on in life? We should encourage kids to use their imaginations, socialize, and fight for what they believe in instead of following school standards in blind obediance.
Logic Wolf on May 31, 2020:
Reasons why I think this is wrong:
1. I'm a high schooler, and I actually love going to school.
2. If schools haven't changed since the middle ages, then why are we using so much MODERN technology in classes?
3. Yes, a lot of what I've learned in school won't help me in the future, but the reason for that is because nobody has the ability to see what skills a person will need in the future, so we are given a general education.
4. Little life knowledge and skills? I find that hard to believe. Isn't math a skill that everyone needs to some extent in life? You need to be able to add and subtract and multipy and divide just to be able to buy food without running out of money. What about reading? Without it, this post wouldn't exist. And spelling? I saw several spelling errors in the above post (the words taught and thought, threw and through, and to and do are different by the way). People who don't spell things correctly most likely have a harder time finding a job.
5. If thinking critically isn't a skill that we are taught, then why am I so good at it?
6. Assigned ranks? Like the honor roll? Or our grades? Where exactly does this take place?
7. Okay, it's true that bad grades don't necessarily mean we will fail in life. But that doesn't mean the educational system in bad. For a lot of people, it means they don't care, or they aren't trying hard enough. I had a really hard time with my grades in middle school, but a lot of that was because I didn't do a lot of my homework. When I stopped procrastinating so much, my grades went up. Right now, I'm an A-Average student.
8. Nobody's mind works the same way. You know where I learned that? Middle school.
(Note: I would have added more, but I lost focus on the task (I have PDD-NOS) so I didn't cover everything I wanted to)
kid who hates school on May 27, 2020:
im an 11 year old kiid I go to school I actually hate it because we get too much hoework and the only teachers thst let us use our imagination/creativity are my music teacher and my drawing teacher
Aarob on April 18, 2020:
Our school system should prioritize life skills like not getting college debt you can't afford and paying your taxes, also 13 years is far to long to be a productive member of society
Tokyo Salvador on April 17, 2020:
This article gives a great picture of how students feel about the education system.
In my perspective, considering economic feasibility etc, our education system is actually the best that could've been done keeping in mind that any country's priority is to maintain a stable economy and workforce.
A student/worker's happiness is meaningless in the economic equation. Promises and claims that revamping the education system will only help boost economy are untested and therefore baseless to policymakers.
Solutions to the education system too are not obvious.
If we just decided to give flexibility to teachers overnight,we basically have given them an excuse to slack.
Teaching any subject in a way that encourages understanding requires understanding on the teacher's part.
Teachers suppress creative questions because they lack answers.
It's not their fault of course. Most basic questions are beyond humanity's understanding at the moment.
Modern technology will soon change this.
AI among other technologies will enable the one-to-one mentoring,
It will simultaneously analyse the student's interests, strengths and weaknesses ,etc completely revolutionising the field.
People will accept this because they are so frustrated with the current education system.
Obviously that system will be far from perfect too.
It could be rigged on purpose by governments who wanted more people to pick a particular career for example.
Salvatore Trentacoste on June 02, 2019:
Todays education system does not teach it creats a society of dependent non thinkers.they are indroctinated into beliving the goverment will give them whst they want. It is a breeding ground for socialsum and communisum.it starts in geade school and continues on through collage.Unless we get off this form of indroctrination not
Real education we as a society are doomed
Dylan Anawitz on May 30, 2019:
1. “It’s a legacy system.”
Sure, school hasn’t changed over the years, but that’s because it’s already a fine system. It teaches us mathematics, which we need for many of the basics of life. It teaches us science, which leaves us environmentally conscious. It teaches us history, which teaches us the flaws of the past so we know how to build a better future.
2. “Most of it’s a waste of time.”
See my last point.
3. “Many successful people dropped out.”
A. Albert Einstein. Okay, sure, he was great.
B. Steve Jobs. Oh you mean the guy who enslaved Chinese peasants and joked about it?
C. Bill Gates. Okay, he’s a good guy.
D. Andrew Jackson. Oh, you mean the dumbass who lead 500,000 Native Americans to their deaths?
E. Thomas Edison. Oh, you mean the plagiarist who destroyed the reputation of one of the geniuses of recent history, Nikola Tesla?
F. Robert De Niro. Oh, an actor, GrEaT. Another braindead beauty obsessed moron feeding our culture of braindead materialism and obsession with psychical beauty.
“One size never fits all.”
Um, you can always work in a way that’s good for you. According to my own experience, schools don’t care how you get the right answer, just that you got the right answer.
“The grading system is based on flawed values.”
Did you even go to a school? When teachers grade your assignments, they aren’t judging you, they’re judging your work on the test. And then they tell you where you fucked up, so you know where you need to improve.
“It Values dry Knowledge Higher than Applicable Skills, Progress, Personality and Creativity”
Literally all of those, expect for personality, can be derived from the knowledge school gives you.
Kulin Raichura on May 28, 2019:
Without changing political system you cannot change educational system.
vishlawathsaikiran from india on May 22, 2019:
THIS WONT CHANGE UNTIL EVERY HUMAN BEING THINKS AND ASKS HIMSELF WHY SHOULD I BE EVALUATED BY MY FELLOW HUMANBEINGS#sycophysician_
vishlawath saikiran on May 22, 2019:
so sir do u think actually who are thieves of students creativity it is the student itself he never asks as he is creativity decreases his curiosity
Jonathan Pearlman- on May 21, 2019:
I have been teaching in a variety of primary schools for the past 30 years and I have watched as creativity and individuality has been sucked out of the children to be replaced by a leaden SATS led curriculum. I am so sick of battling this system.
Whenever I help instigate anything exciting or different the children respond with energy and enthusiasm, usually in June and July when we have finished "studying" for SATS.
I have an ongoing dialogue with parents ,whose children are bored or stressed by school.
What I tell them is do what I did. I gave my son permission to have 2 days off from school a month to do something creative. I phoned his school to say he was sick and let him stay at home, writing songs and practising guitar. The only condition I gave my son was to play his songs to me when I got home.
All parents must take a stand and keep their children at home to do something that helps/inspires them to be more creative. If they like art- visit museums, paint, sculpt, draw whatever they like.
My son is now at university studying song -writing and music for films,
but more importantly, he is still enthusiastic about learning and creating.
Will on May 20, 2019:
Yet another article about how bad thr system is with absolutely no concrete suggestions on how to REALLY fix it. The problem is, its easy to complain, but teachers are looking for solutions everyday that will fit our students needs. At the same time we are shackled to State testing that tells us exactly what we have to shovel down their throats.
Brajesh on May 20, 2019:
Totally agree. Indian schooling system is creating junks. No scope for natural creativity.
Kksharma on May 19, 2019:
Let's change to British era education system...... in that time many famous scientist were emerged ... Famous mathematical were emerged... it shows that something was... Iets assume that our present facilities were present in that time. What might be the outcome.. only complex thinking , deep idea can not change , reality is on the ground , in this country only IAs officers who are seating in the room are making / assisting policies of education system ....Only working in the table....
MJVP on May 16, 2019:
i didnt read all of it but i do agree that school needs to change and if there's no one already doing something about it well hopefully i will change it and to anyone that is reading this and supporting me even by just thinking thank you
T on May 15, 2019:
I don't disagree with your assessment, however the fear of lawsuits has driven school districts to make decisions towards "bland" because of parents. Parents have to be held more accountable for the products they are delivering to our school system. If they deliver "faulty" products to our system, it shouldn't be the responsibility of schools to "fix" them. Too many students are showing up to kindergarten with no skills and an array of trauma to be receptive to academics. Schools continue to be required to do more, without the resources necessary. And this is exactly how our elite politicians want it. Even Democratic representatives send their kids to private schools or schools in the highest income boundaries. Our policy makers want public schools to fail to keep competition away from the elite. Look at the unfunded mandates that require schools to tend to the needs of those that struggle most. Federal and state governments don't contribute the funds necessary to meet all of the legal requirements schools face, so they come from the district and building general fund which in turn leaves voids elsewhere....for all the other students that end up suffering the consequences. This is not an accident. The only reason schools are as successful as they are, is because of the caring individuals that take on all the roles they do! Please be mindful of this political landmine when you criticize the work that these incredible people do every day.
RJS on May 15, 2019:
So here we go again with the same nonsense about what is wrong with our schools. Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Andrew Jackson, Robert De Niro are use as examples for a false proof that our schools are not teaching the right things. These individuals were/are not successful 'because' they dropped out of schools. They were successful in live because they were/are driven, motivated, have goals for themselves, self-taught, persistent, persevered, etc. If you want to find out what is wrong with our schools then you need to look at the thousands who dropped out of schools barely scraping by with low-paying jobs, being homeless, taking drugs,... That is not to say that our schools are doing a terrfic job, far from that.
Creativity is the application of knowledge and skills to solve new problems and create new things. If you don't have knowledge and skills you cannot apply them. You cannot be a best-selling author if did not master language, vocabulary and grammar. You cannot be song writer or musician if you don't understand the basics of music. You cannot be an engineer making a successful new invention if you have no concepts of mathematics. The individuals above all had/have the knowledge and skills in their respective fields and it took them a long time to acquire them.
Research shows it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. A lot of time. But time our children and teenagers should have in a wealthy society like ours where children do not have to contribute to make a living for the family. I agree, time is wasted time in our schools. But the majority of time is wasted at home in the afternoon and on weekends with watching silly cartoons on TV, playing senseless video games, social media and more. None of that is creative. Here we complain about the repetitiveness of learning but what exactly is playing a video game?
Our schools are a reflection of our society. Our society embraces a culture of failure (for all the wrong reasons), of self-pitying, self-victimization. It used to be that if you failed, you picked yourself up again, and tried again. Today you find somebody to blame your failure on. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before he found the right materials for the incandescent light bulb. If you use him as an example, heed his famous words: "Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration."
Stop failing to realize and acknowledge the hard work, perseverance and persistance that is the true reason for success in life.
Many have watched the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody", the story of Queen and Freddie Mecury. Listen carefully to the words of "We will rock you/We are the champions": "I have paid my dues, Time after time,... But it's been no bed of roses, No pleasure cruise, I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, And I ain't gonna lose"
Reader on May 06, 2019:
Please, for the love of writing, proofread. It’s hard to take your argument against formal education seriously when this article is littered with typos, misspellings and grammatical errors. And while I tend to agree with what you’ve tried to write, I cannot help but think the education you received has somehow failed you.
Tony rae on May 05, 2019:
Gee, a few years of experience teaching high school and you are the expert! Perhaps a friend should edit further posts for grammatical errors.
rohan.dreams on May 05, 2019:
Exactly.. Why should we repeat same things again and again as a teacher or students.
Why should we limit one's brilliant mind only upto arts/commerce/science category?
I'm chemistry teacher, but have keen interest in physics, maths, sports, reading/writting poems, drawing, painting, music... Thanks to oour system, I'm unable to share my knowledge as well as unable to improve in my skills..
Vaishali Tiwari on April 29, 2019:
Very nice article. Yes I totally agree with your views but problem is how to change mentality of parents who pressurized their children for good marks only. We need to work on them not on children because what I feel a child is a diamond and needs a little polishing.
Tony on April 28, 2019:
Maybe proofread your piece first. The article is rife with run-on sentences and misspelled words.
Longtime Student on April 28, 2019:
One of the forms of education in the middle ages was called something like "Quaestiones disputatae" (disputed question). It involved the teacher posing a question about a subject and the entire class discussing and exploring that question with the teacher helping guide the dialogue.
Tell me again how horribly medieval our education system is?
Besides that, most of what you're saying comes down to the quality of the teacher. Good, knowledgeable teachers will fix almost all of the problems you mentioned, no revolution required, because they know the best ways to teach and what to teach to keep students as interested and excited as they can.
Amy Bright on April 28, 2019:
Hi, I live in a state (NH) which has a law saying that an employee without a contract can be fired without giving notice or reason why. I was wirking as a Substitute Teacher (which I wanted to do for awhile in order to become better aquainted with the school district and school that my son would be attending). I was having a successful experience, receiving much appteciation and positive feedback from both staff and students. (I would initiate discussions when possible, field questions such as "how do you feel about school?" and "what would you like to see changed, and how could we do that?" I was increasingly meeting with staff to help bring on some new ideas. Last Thursday I was notified (by a computer) that my services were no longer needed. Later, upon seeking out more information about my apparent firing, I was told simply that "we can fire anyone without telling them why." I don't know how common this law is, but it is only another reflection of a broken, unfair system that is giving mixed messages. They tell our kids that "mistakes are for learning" and "knowledge equals growth" and to "treat others as we would want to be treated." Many of our staff and teachers are living with the fear that they could lose their jobs at any moment, should anyone simply decide, for any reason, that they were not wanted there. What kind of aystem is that? YES, WHAT YOU ARE DOING HERE IS COMPLETELY WARRANTED AND NECESSARY. WE ARE RUINING OUR FUTURE BY "TEACHING" KIDS INNWAYS AND THINGS THAT ARE OUTDATED, INHUMANE, AND NOT AS WE WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED! The photo in your article shows at least a classroom with windows! Our high school has many rooms wihout windows, adequate ventilation, void of artwork and color, and feeling, yes, very "prisonlike!" YES to this WORK!!
M H on April 26, 2019:
Great article. Thanks a lot.
But this system can produce engineers, which system can produce Bill Gates?
I really want to know... You are right regarding what you wrote
Anonymous on April 22, 2019:
Indian education system is not working.it is worst than what this article describes.
Educator on April 22, 2019:
You clearly know nothing of new pedagogies and the current researched based practices that are being used in classrooms. Your “couple of years” of teaching should have involved gaining more knowledge through professional development and best practices. The whole child is being served in my district including social and emotional learning. You just put schools in a one size fits all mentality with your article. How ironic...
Rancy Sirleaf on April 09, 2019:
I clearly grasp the concept, that the author is calling for,craving for and advancing the Need For An Educational Reform that emphasizes Intuition and Innovation. The points are well articulated and in instances repetitive understandably for the mere purpose of emphasis.However, we live in a world where conformity and uniformity highlighted towards the attainment of success. That in my estimation explains where the present educational has been this way for centuries. The author made every effort to emphasize the defects but fall short of recommending much more radical ideas, concepts, skills, practices and innovative interventions that would reflect a brand new era, the dawning of a new day in the Educational system.To achieve these ends, it would require revolutionized mindsets, mobilized determination and series of national as well as international conferences involving the good will of governments of willing nations of the world. I strongly Concord with the author.
Math Teacher 2019 on April 09, 2019:
Not all schools are the same.
Robert Woodard on April 06, 2019:
There are a lot of things wrong with education today and this article is one of them. Smug detached from reality observers with an agenda that promotes a false narrative that teens come to school dying to learn but are suppressed by cruel teachers, robotic instruction and meaningless curriculums. First public education requires everyone go to school until they reach 18. Sure technically in some instances it can happen earlier but its become free baby sitting until 18. This means there are loads of kids who simply don’t want to be there who not only don’t learn but also contaminate the learning environment for those who teach and those who want to learn. There isn’t an infinite number of people who are capable and willing to teach and the number of young replacements simply aren’t there. But let’s look at the thrust of the article that contradicts itself. In one breath the author decries cookie cutter instruction and proceeds to blast out new age prescriptions for discovery and creativity as keys to learning. It rants about grades but doesn’t really seem to understand how addicted to grades kids are. Me: Let’s look at a short clip on anti Semitism through the ages to understand what happened in Nazi Germany and things happening now. Students: Are we getting agrade for this? No. Students: Then what’ the point. Me: Yes. Students: unspoken What’s tge easiest way to do the least amount of work to achieve an A.
That’s why I hate these articles. They do nothing to help and the narrative just makes a hard job tougher. Want to really help? Work to create a vocational track putting those with no academic aspirations on the road to learning trades mixed with a general curriculum that goes deeper into key subjects so they understand how to speak, write know where countries are and some history.
Ben on February 06, 2019:
Funny- I played a little game while I was reading this "article". I said to myself, "I will keep reading until I find an actual fact." And here I am at the comments section. Not one fact in the entire diatribe.
This is modern America at its greatest- saying that the system should adapt to my individual needs instead of emphasizing the individual's obligation to contribute to the larger good of society.
I love the notion that "School should be fun" and "Grades are mean". Do you fail to realize that when a student graduates, he/she will be a part of the work force. I can't remember the last time my boss said, "Well, sales are down 20%, but at least you showed creativity, so good job" *places gold sticker on my sales review*
What a load of hooey!
Orion434 on January 27, 2019:
Wasn't Steven Hawking a messy hand writer at school and wasn't at the top of the class?
Bruce Deitrick Price on December 20, 2018:
Funny, I neglected to challenge this smug complaint from two years ago: "Bruce, your use of the term socialist..."
In fact, I believe John Dewey was a Fabian Socialist, a far-left organization started in England in 1884. But American socialists were not supposed to use the term; so people like Dewey called themselves "progressives."
The more I study K-12 and try to explain why we have 50 million functional illiterates, the more I can tell everyone this sad reality: the socialist/progressive left has controlled our schools for a long time and pursued dumbing-down as a way of consolidating their power. This is what I write about in hundreds of articles and my book "Saving K-12." There is far too much decline and dysfunction throughout our public schools. This cannot be explained as some strange accident. No, it must be intentional. Our Education Establishment undermines traditional education whenever possible. People should resist this tendency.
Anonymous on December 17, 2018:
This is going to sound bitter but it is true.
I am from India and I have been going to a pretty renowned school of our city. Well, my parents got my admission in that school because of its popularity. At that time I was 10. So yeah, I didn't knew much about the prospect of studies.. So, I was admitted and I still remember my first day at school. My teacher first and foremost told us and I quote, "You all will follow your teachers' commands at any circumstances, even if I tell you to come to me and get slapped right in the face and you have no right to ask why... At that time we were terrified by this.. So, like others,I gave a nod to it.. After one month, our class was preparing for the school assembly and I was given to recite a poem and explain it.. So, during the assembly, I recited the poem and when it came to explain, I had forgot some parts that I had learned. So, I used some of my own sentences to explain the poem.. The poem was easy so it was easy for me to understand and explain it. But.... When I went backstage, my teacher was staring me in anger... she took me in a nearby empty classroom and gave me two slaps with so much power that I had nearly backed out.. I started crying, and my teacher said.. Don't cry..You are a boy.. Be used to it.. and I'll make sure that you never got to the stage again...
I was so terrified that I didn't even dared to tell this to my own parents..
All this just for explaining the poem in my own words??
This shows the cruelty of our system...
One more incident, We were given science projects for summer holidays and in the name of choice of topic, they gave 5 topics of science and we had to choose just from those 5 topics.. I got human digestive system.. I accepted it although I had no interest in biology at time, so what I did, I made an electric lamp..( I was in 4th class)...
When my teacher asked for the homework, I showed her my lamp and told her that I didnt wanted to make a digestive system chart....
She took it and without saying a word, smashed it into pieces.. At that moment I screamed at the top of my voice and breaking into tears"Why did you break it?" and she in a cold voice, said "It wasn't your homework.."
From then I started giving no shit to teachers and became a fugitive in front of teachers..
This tells that they will go to any extent to make you do what they want... they don't give a shit to what you think, they will suppress your creativity and kill your curiosity and spirit..
That teacher left the school as she was promoted to senior wing which was in other city.. So yeah, at least that was a relief
Fast forward 4 years later, I was giving the thank you speech in front of whole school, and the special guest was that teacher.. That same teacher who had tormented my life 4 years ago... She had been promoted in the Senior wing and had been promoted to Headmistress.. She hadn't recognised me.. When she had to leave( before the fest ended), I had to escort her to her car.. I walked silently behind her and said nothing.. When she approached to her car, I said "Ma'am do you remember me? and she replied No.. I said "Well I remember you very clearly ma'am" and with that bid her wishes and went back to the building....
Till today, I have not forgot the incidents which have hurt my childhood...
And sadly, the system has not been better even by 1 % .
I hope that It will get better because if not, we all are going towards the future where there will be no creativity.. just dumb people working like machine.. they will not live, they will survive.. remember the difference....
Croft on November 28, 2018:
I am very lucky to be going to what is considered an alternative project based school. The school was actually original founded to break away from the standard schooling system and give students a better freer education.
Bela on May 05, 2018:
Hi, I agree with this so much. In fact, in my situation- I am in an extension class, ( which usually does 2 years ahead of year 8 if not more), and I do okay. I dont want to drop out because the people in the others classes are really mean and bully everyone remotely different or unique. The constant pressure of having to do , with a bunch of full on geniuses for their age is so difficult. I just want to do my art, hopefully become an illustrator when I grow up and find out who I really am: instead if learning quadratic equations and the russian revolution. It sucks. :(
Jack c. on April 20, 2018:
Thank you for this very needed information
Alex on March 19, 2018:
Platygamer on February 19, 2018:
Can I use this article for a petition that I am making?
Sarah on November 29, 2017:
I have just read a great book about this subject, it would take a while to implement and is a total restructuring of the education system as we know it.
It is called In place of schools by John Adcock, also Everett Reimer wrote a book in the 1970s called School is Dead.
The education system is failing a huge number of young people in society and even more so since the birth of the technological age. How can we maintain a system that does not change with societal norms?
I had an awful experience in school, as I have mental health issues, but am by no means stupid.
Capatan on November 15, 2017:
My mental health is shot to pieces and I blame a huge part of that on the education system. I was always a straight A student at school, but like most stereotypes, had precious little social skills. This led me to getting bullied for close to 5 years. All I did was knuckle down, told myself it would be over eventually. When I finished school, my name got put in the paper because of how good my grades were.
I wanted to be an author at that point. All I wanted to do was work some crappy job whilst I worked on my Novels. At the very least I wanted to take just one year out to pursue my talent. Of course, I was told that was out of the question. I was going back to study and I was going back to study the ‘real’ subjects (sciences of course). I went to a college and without motivation, I rebelled. I spent my lessons writing, my stories instead of focusing. Part of me was scared to get good grades again. I thought it would get me bullied and make me a virgin for life.
Had I stayed back at my old school, teachers would have asked me what was wrong. Here they wrote me off immediately. I got to see the power of reputation first hand, got to experience being a student at both ends of the spectrum. I also got to see the flaws of grading, where the first time I sat an exam, I borderline failed. The second time, I taught myself exam technique. I did not learn the material any better, jut how to answer it. I went from a borderline fail to 98%. It all seemed like one big fucking joke, where they did not care about what you learnt, just what those numbers said on paper. It was sick.
It got to a point where my chemistry teacher totally wrote me off. I would place my hand up in class, asking for help and he would jut ignore me. It got to the point I would have to ask my friend next to ask questions because he straight up would not speak to me and wanted to kick me off the course, more interested in saving the college’s stats than actually helping me out. I started to feel very guilty. All this time I thought I was jut genetically smarter than others for getting better grades. I realised that was all bollocks. I was at least fortunate in that I had once gotten good grades, so knew I was capable of it. But what of those students whose entire school life was being treated like you were not good enough? Why would they try? Why would they instead not jut give up on the whole thing and try their fortunes elsewhere or (as is more commonly the case), drift through their life thinking they are too dumb to amount to anything?
I knuckled myself down, gave up on my hobbies and lived in the library. I managed to salvage the situation pretty well, getting into one of the top 10 unis in the UK to study a STEM field subject. But I still felt like a failure, because it wasn’t ‘THE’ best. I was never good at anything in life except getting those grades. In a sense, it was like my identity was gone because in reality, I had never been taught to be good at anything else. That pressure put on me to perform meant that even with what I went through, I still felt like I was not good enough. The horrible thing is, this is a big part of what the educational system has become. It’s not about what you learn, but the prestige of it all.
I put my writing on the back shelf again, telling myself it was ok. My writing always explored themes of science and science fiction. Ensuring that all of the science was actually real (no ‘the neutrinos are mutating’ bullshit like in 2012) seemed worth it and who knew, maybe I would find my ‘calling’. But this was around the time depression really hit me hard. I got put on meds to help me focus. It did not matter what I was doing because it was ‘not good enough’.
I took up extra A levels because I wanted to show what I could do, teaching myself all the sciences I didn’t the first-time round (maths, physics, sociology etc.) It was hell. I would miss lectures to go to classes and vice versa, using up all of my free time to catch up on one or the other. I barely got 6 hours sleep a night yet I was strangely happy. For all the stress, it felt like I was going somewhere with my life.
I had to stop the A levels before I could finish the course. My parents split up quite suddenly and I was thrown into pretty severe financial difficulties. I quit that, tried to focus on my degree. I had to work at the local Burger King just to pay rent. One event that always stuck with me was a mother pointing to me as I was cleaning tables, telling her child to work hard or ‘that would be them’. Any normal person would have simply said ‘I’m studying STEM in a top 10 uni, but no, it just got to me and made me feel worthless.
In the end I graduated, but not as well as I would have liked with everything that was going on. It ended up kicking my depression into the stratosphere. I couldn’t eat for 5 days. That has been the past year. I’m currently working for a job I hate. It’s only part time and I don’t earn much money. I have breakdowns quite regularly, feeling like I have not ‘lived up to my potential’. Usually I can hide it but last weekend I had to leave early because I was just inconsolable.
I think I know what I want to do. I want to go into research, specifically to do with stem cells and cell senescence. It’s what I wanted to do my dissertation on, but there wasn’t anyone in the faculty who could facilitate what I wanted to do(what do they do with our huge tuition fees?). My dad doesn’t want me to go back to study. He says I will ‘mess up’ again. He only wants me to go back if it is to study medicine, thinking everything else is inferior. Then on the other hand, I personally feel like I’m a failure if I don’t go to an elite uni, and have this warped perception that I’m not worth a damn if I do not.
I can’t even keep on top of my meds very well. Every time I go to see the Doctors, I’m just reminded of my father’s words, how he wanted that to be me. Every relationship I find myself in inevitably falls because of how bad my depression has got. The education system has warped my mind and my perception of self-worth. Even if by some miracle, for instance, I wrote my novel and it was really successful, a Netflix deal to do an adaption made millions (real fairy tales stuff), I would still feel like I failure because I didn’t go to an elite university. Spending my life being graded without being taught that myself and my work are two different entities has placed me in this fucked up mindset, and desire multiple sessions with different councillors and techniques, I can’t change that which has been conditioned into me.
In my current situation, my best career path would probably be to go into teaching. They pay well and are in high demand around my area, especially for science. But what’s the point of becoming part of a system I despise and believe to be wrong with every fibre of my being? With what I have been through, I know in order to get my student the best grades possible, it’s all about teaching them exam techniques, to think like an examiner. Not how to become a great scientist, how to think outside the box and to be a great thinker, but how to look at a question, and know the 3 exact phrases the examiner needs to see to award all 3 marks. Why would I want to become the very thing I’m so against? And yet, I think of how much debt I’m in, and the possibility of going back to something I’m good at, it’ hard not to see the appeal, even if it does feel like selling my soul to the devil.
I do apologies for the essay long rant. The only reason I mention this rather long-winded essay is because I was researching with my friend the other day. She quoted that 1.5% of 15-35-year olds would commit suicide. I knew the number was high but not that high surely? But it was. Based on what source you quoted, approximately 1 in 66 millennials will kill themselves. 75% of all suicides occur in the first world, not, surprisingly, the third. As someone whose depression and thoughts of suicide are heavily the result of how I was educated, I'm at a loss School was meant to prepare me for the future. Instead it has reduced to me to a mentally crippled husk of a man.
m on October 16, 2017:
Thank you for writing this. Most people (especially teachers) do not tend to pay attention of what the student needs, but what society thinks it needs.
Anonymousperson123 on March 27, 2017:
School's just turning parents into grade thirsty zombies
Omoniyi Victor AJULOR on February 22, 2017:
Well said. But where are we going to start from?
Jason White on February 17, 2017:
I agree with your ideas but some of these examples are terrible.
Distant Mind (author) on November 24, 2016:
Bruce, your use of the term socialist is a clear example of lack of basic education and basic critical thinking abilities or application. It shows me that you haven't devoted even a single second to examining what you are talking about critically. If I were you, I would refrain from using terms I don't understand. Your conspiracy theory take on this is as shallow as they get.
Just to make things clear: countries that are more social or socialist in the modern sense of the word tend to have better education, not worse. It's absolutely moronic to say socialist thinking values mediocrity. Read up on countries like Finland, their values and their educational systems before you embarrass yourself more.
Bruce Deitrick Price from Virginia Beach, Va. on June 28, 2016:
All good points but also part of the Education Establishment's Standard Alibi Package, which is used to keep saps in line.
The key phrase is this book title "The deliberate dumbing down of America." Deliberate. The people in control of K-12 education tend to be socialist in their thinking. They like leveling and mediocrity. So they are happy to have all these excuses and alibis, and they can go right on dumbing down the schools and nobody will notice the real cause.
Rainbowdream on June 28, 2016:
The worst problem of modern education (from primary school to university) is lack of teaching about human values (love, truth, peace, compasion, non violence, right conduct...). After finishing schools we are not a better human beings than before. Modern education need complete new curs, less theory, much more praxis, learn practical everyday skills, and it must be shortened. Not to mention that every day on this planet about 550 young people (15 - 24 years old) commits suicide, by one Research in UK from 2002. 70% becouse of "academic stress". Or simply - modern education is for life dangerous product.
Doodlebird on November 03, 2014:
Good hub - I've been reading and writing about education for many years - it's a fascinating subject. Especially when you look into the history. A "system" performs like a machine - its 1st priority is to keep itself going. You can't change a single piece without a significant breakdown in the whole. People are unique individuals and will never fit neatly into a scientifically designed system, so we resort to medicating more than is necessary. I agree that drastic change is needed, but is unlikely without a major overhaul (scrap it and start over with a new perspective). I also feel that teachers are the unfortunate scapegoats in the education argument. They're on the front lines and are the public face of the predetermined curriculum that gets imposed upon them. Many have a big heart for kids and really want to make a difference.
Distant Mind (author) on July 29, 2014:
I think a new approach could help both with the basic things that need to be learned and the advanced ones. It's just needs to be a more engaging and dynamic environment and teacher should become real educators. Of course, it's all easier said than done. The Ken Robinson Shuffle, eh, good one ;)
Bruce Deitrick Price from Virginia Beach, Va. on July 04, 2014:
I know you are right for the most part. But it's not the whole story. I call this the Ken Robinson Shuffle, by the way.
We should also keep in mind that most of education's failure, day-to-day, is more a function of the breakdown in the teaching of basics. Children have to learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and then start acquiring basic knowledge, before they can go on to any of the things you mention. We have children in middle school who can barely multiply, or read. Naturally, most of their education will be wasted on them. But it's not the fault of that education. It's the fault of that school.
Howard Schneider from Parsippany, New Jersey on March 14, 2014:
Great analysis, Distant Mind. Our current educational system tends toward teaching to pass standardized tests and not true learning. We must encourage our young people to analyze facts and be creative. Simple memorization will not cut it in our time nor should it.
Oscar on January 18, 2014:
Well, congratulations on your article. There are some things which I desagree with, but overall, you made a point: education system is arcaic. You critizise much the gradings, but there has to be still some meritocracy in education, so it isn't fair to try to destroy something that works without even trying to give an alternative. Besides, knowing for the sake of it or knowing things that may not aply ever to your life is actually good and intrensically human. It is true, though, that the first step isnto raise interest in these topics, to make relationships between them and to make people learn to love them.
Anyway, good article, just wanted to throw away some random thoughts after reading it.
Adebayo Adeolu Ibrahim on November 26, 2013:
Very great hub. I really enjoyed it.
Distant Mind (author) on November 16, 2013:
Thank you for the nice comments.
shivangi maurya on November 14, 2013:
I like your thoughts as a teacher .I wish to god that all the teacher's thought changed like you that one size never fitted.
SHAR NOR from Miami, FL on February 14, 2013:
Thank you for the interesting Hub. To be honest, what you mentioned is true and that is why mots educated graduates even end up on the streets carrying Job search envelops each day that goes by. A follow Back for an update will work. Am following you now. Thanks.
Distant Mind (author) on October 12, 2012:
Unfortunately, everybody knows this but the big institutions are scared from change.
Dianna Mendez on October 11, 2012:
I hear teachers state all the time how the system doesn't work. It does need a serious restructuring inside and out. Voted up.
Distant Mind (author) on October 09, 2012:
Thank you, Billy. We all know the system is broken, but I can do nothing but admire teachers that devoted so much time to educating.
I really hope we live to see that day that children will go to school will pleasure and interest.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 09, 2012:
I just retired two years ago after eighteen years in the classroom, and I can say without a doubt that each one of your points is accurate. This system is broken from the top to the bottom and needs a complete overhaul. Well done!