Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Farewell To Public School Education

My Mother's response upon my getting a 4 on my English Literature AP test (a 5 is a perfect score, that's the highest that can be achieve) *I also got a 4 on my English Language and Composition AP test*:

"Well it's not that good a score if your college only accepts 5's. That score doesn't do anything for us"

Since the school I'm going to is academically ranked so high, only perfect scores on the AP test are accepted to test out of their freshman english class.

...

"His grandmother and I are raising him. I worry about putting him into the public school system. I was a teacher for many years. I’ve seen so much confidence destroyed by the standardized system. Every human is born with natural curiosity. I’ve never seen a child who wasn’t inspired. But once you force someone to do anything, the inspired person is killed. I dropped out of school myself in 7th grade. So I know. I taught a GED course for years, so I’ve seen the end results over and over. I’ve seen so many kids who have complexes and insecurities because they were forced to do something they weren’t ready to do, and then they were blamed when they weren’t able to do it. What we call ‘education’ today is not organic. You can’t take something as complex as the human mind, compartmentalize it, and regiment its development so strictly."

"I was an English teacher. The demands of the system required that I give out grades, but I never felt good about it. How do you grade someone’s writing? Writing is about revision. It’s about access to self. If a student writes a poem, and it’s the best they can do at the moment, how are you supposed to compare that to the student sitting next to them? How are you supposed to give one a 90, and one an 85?"

*Stumbled across those while reading the blog http://www.humansofnewyork.com/ (check it out it's genius!!)*

We have such a broken education system and, as someone who went through the public school system, I can say from experience; it's brutal. My favorite class ever that I paid the most attention in, was the most involved in, with my favorite high school teacher ever (shout out to Mr.Ellis), I got a C in. Granted it was an honors class (Honors World Cultures), but still. In my yearbook Mr. Ellis wrote that I am "an exceptional human being" and even though I received one of my worst grades in that class, that's the class I learned the most in. 

I never fully understood how it can be tested that you learned something because, with written and standardized tests, all that's being tested is how well you memorize. For the last 12 years of my education my intelligence has been measured by how well I can regurgitate information. Parrots do that all the time, someone says something and they repeat it back. Does a good memory equate to intelligence?

Most students haven't really learned anything. They've drilled and hammered into their brain a given date, equation, name, whatever is needed, and then after it is tested completely forget all of it. 

I have no idea what anaphora, zeugma, or litotes is but I got a 100% on that literary terms test. 

By having a standard of intelligence based off of pure memory, not only are the people who have a bad memory yet are very intelligent getting screwed, we're also as a society not getting anywhere. 

All students are taught the same as if everyone learns the same. Sure there are slower paces for certain students but it's still the same style of teaching, just condescendingly slower. Everyone has different tastes of music, different tastes in food, in television, in clothes, in everything. Yet we're all taught the same.

School is taught the same way it was back in the 1600's. Just think about that for a second.

Sure they've added fancy gadgets, computers, tablets and such, but it's the same overall principle. A teacher gets up and talks at their students, then gives them a test on what they have said.

So much has changed in these last few hundreds years, how we communicate, how we interact, how we eat, transportation, jobs, society overall; yet why is education still the same?

There's been some leeway, things such as Khan Academy, but not nearly enough. 

The school system is designed to create copies of the same person. The same learner. Someone with a good memory who tests well.

School is weird in that it's hard to really do anything about it, you just have to get through it. In elementary school it's all such basic stuff and we, as students, are so young that we just kind of go with it. In middle school a clear gap emerges between the "gifted" and "average" students and you start to really pay attention to the standardized testing and realize hey, I really don't need to pay attention in class, I just need to memorize everything on the worksheet and I'll get an A+ in the class. Then in high school it hits you like a ton of bricks and you look back and say woah, I haven't learned a thing. So we bs our way through it, I mean college and the rest of our life by proxy is on the line, and then senior year when you hear about the changes they're making for next year, adding more standardized test, switching to block scheduling, things of that nature, and you're like "wow that's really not going to help the students learn anything" but we're so close to the end, we can see the greener pastures of college on the horizon, that we just let it be.

I didn't start noticing it until middle school but I would just brush it off and say it's only 3 years of my life suck it up, then in high school it's only 4 years of my life suck it up, but then you look back and it's like wow 12 years of my life and I don't know what I've learned. 

So you know what AP test, even though I got a "not that good" score of 4, which means I'm "Well qualified to receive college credit" instead of a 5 which is "Extremely well qualified to receive college credit", I'm okay with that. Because unlike some people; educators, high strung type A people, other students, parents, I realize that a test doesn't really mean that much and does not define my intelligence. Maybe they should teach that in school.

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