Education is thought of as either a waste of time or a beautiful way to enrich a student’s knowledge. Schooling sprung up in America around 1905 and has evolved into what some call a monster. In today’s society, many people such as John Gatto believe education is useless; it has lost its touch. In Gatto’s article, Against School, he discusses education’s journey through the years and how it started as a way to create respectable contributors to society, and has become like a day care; schools have become a place to drop off your child for six hours and that’s it. Gatto goes on to educate his readers about how bad education has become but never provides a solution. Not once does he come up with a way that teachers, and educators can change their ways and make education a good thing. There are plenty of ways to improve the system; ways such as, creating a more flexible schedule for the students where they can focus intensively on the subjects that they are struggling in. Another way to implement improvement in education would be to provide an at-home schooling program that allows students to learn at their own pace in the comfort of their home. Lastly, a way to help make education work in our society is to teach job related courses in high school to prepare students for the real world.
Charter schools throughout the country offer very flexible schedules to help students focus more on the subjects they struggle with rather than those they excel in. This helps students not get swept up and fall behind, as they would in a normal day in a public school. Average public schools aren’t provided with enough funding or enough time to help students in a one-on-one setting, like most charter and private schools do. California Charter Schools Association states, “Charter schools are public schools. They have some unique traits, however, that increase the likelihood of a successful education for a child, such as flexibility, innovative teaching methods, and mission-driven programs. Across the state, charter schools are positively impacting students, resulting in improved achievement.” Charter schools are free to attend and most require an application and sometimes have a lottery system because so many parents want their students to be a part of the charter mission, which provides flexible and quality education. Many parents feel it is worth it for their student’s future and believe charter schools are reinventing education as we speak. Although, charter schools are jam packed and have resulted to this lottery system which has resulted in a need to build bigger charter schools or open more. A solution to this problem would be to reduce spending on frivolous public school programs and testing that doesn’t help in any way, and move that funding to help charter schools help more students with their flexible schedules.
A safe and positive learning environment is a big deal to most parents and their students. The environment these students are placed in can play a big part on how well they learn and interact with others. Homeschooling has become very popular over the past few years because parents and students feel safe when learning in the comfort of their own home. At home students do not have to deal with the pressure of his or her peers, he or she does not have to worry about fitting in with the cultural norms that other students create, students are less likely to be bullied, and are more likely to succeed while learning at his or her own pace, in a calm and secure environment. Home educating also helps with enhancing family relationships between children and parents, provides guided and reasoned social interactions with peers and other adults, and teach a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldviews to students. However, some believe that homeschooled students are held back from many social activities and are too sheltered. The National Home Education Research Institute states, “Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.” These activities help students gain social interaction and result in a well-rounded student.
High school is where a student begins to find themselves and starts thinking about what they really want to be when they grow up, how they want to contribute to this world, and how they are going to achieve this goal. How can a student form a reasonable and realistic goal for their future if they have no experience in things that result in a strong career? If schools provided courses that taught job skills and necessary knowledge to help students succeed in the real world. These courses would help students gain an experience in a prospective career and help them gain a realistic idea of what they want to do with their lives outside of high school. Professor Bryan Caplan from the Department of Economics and Mercatus Center at George Mason University asks, “What fraction of U.S. jobs ever use knowledge of history, higher mathematics, music, art, Shakespeare, or foreign languages? Latin?! What does this have to do with real life?” Many students are feeling lost and confused after high school, and the majority of them enter into college with no direction. Some argue that these courses cannot be paid for due to the lack of funds in public education. Funding could result from the cancelation of standardized testing. These tests do not help students but usually lower their self-esteem and are normally on subjects that are not regularly taught in classrooms. Some view them as a waste of time and money. These funds could be used to help bring useful and necessary classes to help high school students form a firm foundation for their future.
Although Gatto never truly provides a supportive solution to all the negative aspects of modern education he does end his article on a somewhat positive note. He states, “Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own develop and inner life so that they’ll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology-all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.”
Gatto is right about many things throughout his article, however, wrong about many things as well. Education has chance to change, and we are the catalyst. Educators, administrators, parents, leaders, and many others can help refresh and rejuvenate the education system by offering their students a chance; a chance to think critically, a chance to really learn, and a chance to succeed in this world. Offering opportunities for struggling students to receive one-on-one attention and a flexible schedule to allow time for this student to focus on subjects they are struggling with would help for a truly smarter generation. Homeschool can bring a parent and their student relief by offering them a calm and comfortable setting to teach and learn in which would result in a successful learning experience. Lastly, courses about nursing, teaching, business, engineering and many others should be offered to high school students to provide them with realistic experience and knowledge to help them succeed in modern day society. All of these solutions plus many more can help education turn a new leaf and begin to truly teach our students in a way that is productive and successful.
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