The Problem with the American Educational System

As many people would agree there is a major problem with the American educational system today. The purpose of this article is to pinpoint the major issues we have in the American educational system today, and offer some solutions as to how we can change it for the better. You know, something besides ignoring it.

Education is not a finite document. It’s not a manual that says, “read this and you will then be considered educated.” Education is an infinite document that is to be infinitely questioned, reviewed and updated. For thousands of years mankind has discovered things and passed that knowledge down to the youth. The purpose of this dissemination of knowledge is so that the youth can learn what’s been learned before them and than expound upon that knowledge. In other words, proper education says, “Here’s what we know so far. Take this information, dive in deeper and add to it.”

The American educational system was designed in the early 1900’s during a time when men wore funny hats, everybody was in black and white and productivity was at the forefront of our culture. America was concerned heavily with winning wars and blowing shit up. What allowed us to be so dominating was our ability as a nation to manufacture and produce weapons, supplies and food at a far more rapid rate than our opponents. (take that bitches) During the early 1900’s, America’s idea of education was to teach people how to work in factory’s to escalate our level of production. When you think about elementary school, aside from getting slammed into lockers or bad tasting cafeteria pizza, you will remember the school bells ringing, as we were ushered like sheep from class to class.

We were taught about meeting deadlines, file keeping (folders, note taking), memorizing, following guidelines all too familiar to the factory jobs we were being groomed for. We no longer live in a country dominated by factories. Thanks to globalization, the advancement in technology, the automation, outsourcing of jobs and Google’s impressive fucking search engine: the U.S. economic landscape is shifting. By necessity, the Millennial workforce is shifting with it to become more entrepreneurial. The new generation is holding their middle fingers to the sky saying, “I want to own shit, bitch!” Entrepreneurship offers value, especially in this recovering economy. So why aren’t we doing more to support this generation of entrepreneurial minded individuals — 82 percent of whom are interested in starting their own business someday — with more targeted resources, training and practical education that would help them thrive?

We now have an extremely high demand for thinkers, doctors, engineers, salesmen, tradesmen and computer experts. In order to keep up with the demand for experienced personnel, organizations in the private and public sector must work together to fix the deficit of these technical skills and knowledge. However, this is clearly not happening rapidly enough, as evidenced by a majority of today’s youth complaining about not being offered classes in direct training, such as website coding, carpentry, band, drafting, pimping (I’m kidding) etc. In districts where public schools alone aren’t able to provide competitive training in technical skills, public-private partnerships are important to better train and prepare the workforce of the new generation. It’s not fucking rocket science.

As students in today’s world, our mission should be to constantly evolve and advance. In today’s capitalistic, “bitch better have my money” society filled with pressures of survival, the millennial generation feel they have to have a “Get a job” mentality. With the “Get a job” mentality, the student isn’t interested in expanding on anything he or she has learned, but more interested in knowing just enough to pass the exams required to get a job. In most cases, get a degree and wind up at subway selling sandwiches to receptionists on their fucking lunch break. Due to our “get a job” mentality, professors have changed their pedagogy (Google pedagogy) to better suit the demand of our societal structure. There has to be more of an incentive for students to learn than getting a job. There has to be an emotional investment within an area of interest to produce a higher quality education. Thanks to our poorly designed and out of date educational system, we are not producing enough of these people, which results in a loss of jobs and an economic crisis. When the teachers are made aware that students are only interested in passing, the teachers become no longer interested in teaching. Students receive less pertinent information about a subject and are merely asked only to memorize answers to exam questions that are only based on the core basics of the said subject. So now, not only do we have a generation of people going to school just to “get a job”, they’re not even memorizing the right exam answers to qualify them for the jobs needed. Congratulations, you have a degree in unemployed! This is a crisis in itself, given that most people aren’t even properly prepared for higher education, due to the poorly devised institution of our early educational systems.

We have a huge problem in our society today where myths and pseudo-facts have become history. For instance, they still teach 4th graders that Christopher Columbus discovered the world was round, when it’s a fact that the Greek’s Hellenistic astronomy during the 3rd century BC had already proven that a spherical earth was physical fact. When mentioning John F Kennedy they still teach our youth Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated him, despite overwhelming evidence to prove the contrary – that won’t be released until 2030 – when all parties involved are dead. Thanks to a humorous advertisement released in the 1930’s by a popular juice company, 99 out of 100 people believe today we don’t use 100% of our brains. When any scientist worth his weight in salt will tell you how ridiculous that is. We, in fact, absolutely do use 100% of our brains. I’ve seen the movie Lucy. Good movie, but it’s bullshit. We still have kids looking up to Paul Revere, when the true hero that evening was Israel Bissell. Why? Israel Bissell’s name wasn’t as heroic sounding as the name Paul Revere when the author wrote of the wonderful tale. You see, we don’t spread misinformation to confuse the masses. We do it solely because fiction makes for a better story than fact. The modern educational system in America is supposed to be designed to guide people away from myths and fairy tales and pull them toward facts. However, when myths become facts, or debates over facts, we fail to progress as a human race. Religion is a great example of how debating what’s true and what’s not true can become an extensive distraction to human progression. (Cough, cough. Not going there)

Education should never be designed around learning what you want to hear, but learning what is, based on overwhelming evidence.The American educational system is not based on each individuals ability to learn and their personal skill set. It is based on a strategy that all individuals are the same and should learn at the same predetermined level. In other words, they have already decided what you should know, and at what age. So they design a k-12 school system that essentially says, “You will learn what you need to know at the age you should know it. If your capable of learning more, than we will monitor you and throttle back on what you learn, so that you don’t know more than your federally allocated amount of knowledge you are supposed to know at your age. If you’re not capable of keeping up, than we will say you have a learning disability and keep you back.” All of this is ridiculous. Take two 9 year old students. One boy, one girl. The boy can only do 3rd grade math, but the girl can already do 10th grade math. Why should the boy be made to feel intellectually inadequate or the girl be made to feel intellectually superior? What if the boy is better at building things than the girl? Shouldn’t they both be guided toward their strengths? There should be no measurement of what we all should know at any age and there should be no predetermined limit of education for all of us. We are all different, and we should have an educational system that caters to each one of our individual strengths. More importantly, why aren’t we teaching business and finance in 6th through 12th grade? A recent study in Time magazine found that an astoundingly high 92% of high school graduates didn’t understand the core concepts of taxes, credit cards, or personal finance. So unless you are a youth who comes from wealth, or willing to go heavily in debt for student loans, you are unable to obtain the most important information of success? Mom, I just graduated high school, but what does a 7% interest rate mean?

Our high school system is a catastrophic failure. In international assessments, our elementary school students generally score toward the top of the distribution, and our middle school students usually place somewhat above the average. But our high school students score well below the international average, and they fare especially badly in math and science compared with our country’s chief economic rivals. What’s the problem?

In America, high school is for socializing. It’s a convenient gathering place, where the really important activities are interrupted by all those annoying classes. For all but the best American students (the students in advanced classes who are bound for the nation’s top colleges and universities) high school is tedious and students feel unchallenged. Studies that have tracked American adolescents’ moods over the course of the day find that levels of boredom are highest during their time in school. Thanks to mass media advertisement, the attention spans of our youth have shrunk drastically. Not only do our students feel bored of our mundane educational structure, but thanks to the ever growing desire of corporations attempting to target the youth market, we have kids focusing more on the popularity contest, than learning. Psychologists refer to it as the “Desire to Belong”.

According to a recent study by Education week, 92% of American high school students listed “fitting in” as their number one concern in High School. Social skills are an integral part of our society, but there is far too much emphasis on it in American school systems. More and more parents are home schooling their kids because of this, which is not a solution. Taking a child away from social interaction isn’t the answer. Our school system needs to be designed in such a way that provides individual students with isolation during particular educational activities and social interaction when it’s necessary. Kids goofing off in class and socializing at the lockers in hallways is not a system that has proven effective. People in general like to belong to social circles and it’s normal that this happens. Our High Schools must find a way to circumvent this by making their curriculum less mundane and more activity based. Not only would students be less bored, but more compelled to discover and pursue interests. Sociological studies have found that boredom and lack of interest, are the primary causes of bullying, trouble-making and the overwhelming desire to be accepted by your peers.

In recent years experts in early-child development have called for programs designed to strengthen children’s “non-cognitive” skills, pointing to research that demonstrates that later scholastic success hinges not only on conventional academic abilities but on capacities like self-control. Research on the determinants of success in adolescence and beyond has come to a similar conclusion: If we want our teenagers to thrive, we need to help them develop the non-cognitive traits it takes to complete a college degree—traits like determination, self-control, and grit. Unfortunately, our high schools demand so little of students that these essential capacities aren’t nurtured. As a consequence, many high school graduates, even those who have acquired the necessary academic skills to pursue college coursework, lack the wherewithal to persevere in college.

Given these circumstances, we must highly consider a complete overhaul of our educational system. We must consider how we can better prepare students who can’t afford college, who have no desire for further education, to still be better prepared for real world progress after 12th grade. We must make our classes more activity based and less test based. We must design our new system in a way that doesn’t look at all of the students in America as the same because they share the same age, and start to gear itself around educating each individual according to their personal capabilities. We must change our educational system from the authoritative approach of “this is how it is” to the more helpful approach of “this is what we have learned, and it’s up to you to learn more.” Until we do these things, we will continue to have the economic and educational crisis we have today in America. We will continue to have uninspired students, being taught by uninspired teachers. We will continue to have youth who fear challenge, because they haven’t been challenged. Stop focusing on the teaching and start focusing on the learning.

Now go read a fucking book.