The corruption of the education system
This is the first of a two-part series. Conclusion next week.I get a D-plus on a test. I’m initially very disappointed with the grade I have received. However, when I look around to see how my classmates have done, I find they each have performed poorly on this particular test as well. Suddenly that D-plus is OK.Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Connecticut and schools across the entire nation are at a loss. They have lost something so crucial to peace, happiness and a functional society: true wisdom. Our country’s educational system is corrupt in such a way that students are not taught but trained. Every child is pressured to be the best at everything: get the highest grades, be the best sports players, do the most for the community, get the lead in the play … but to what end? To get into the best colleges? Why? So that they may become “successful” afterward? In my opinion, the heart of the problem is the unfortunate truth that success in our current society is simply measured by the amount of money collected. In school, every child is trained to become successful. In order to achieve this, each student’s progress must be recorded frequently to note who is at the top. As a result, the majority of middle- and high-school curriculum revolves around standardized testing. Instead of encouraging students to expand their knowledge or develop intellectual curiosity, as schools should do, American schools push students to absorb information to get good grades on tests. They find the most efficient way to remember the names, numbers and other facts, but then, once the test is done, the information flees the brain within a very short time period. There is no question as to why so many students turn to cheating to achieve these high grades. Many teachers of specific fields ask students to reflect on what they have learned in past years only to see blank, worried faces. The teachers should not be surprised if this is the method in which the material has been taught. Parents, without even knowing it, worsen the problem. They want their children to become as financially successful, if not more so, than themselves. To ensure this, parents, varying in terms of strictness, encourage their children to be at the top of the crop. This only adds to the enormous pressure put on the nation’s youth.At all schools, including Housy, the class level of difficulty should be based upon intelligence of the students. Rather, it is based upon the amount of work each student is willing to do. The children who are most willing to compete against each other for the race to the top are those who are in high level courses. From there, they will go on to prestigious colleges and universities and become wealthy politicians, lawyers, doctors, etc. This does not always require sophistication or wit. Plato once said that in a state, the guardians, those who govern the whole populous, must be the most intelligent individuals and rightly chosen. However, if people are achieving these positions not by learning but by training, who are we to expect them to carry out their jobs with ideal execution? Today, our government is composed of men and women elected to their positions to represent a whole community. In many cases, these politicians seem more concerned with simply maintaining their position than actually carrying out their purpose. The bright children in school are not always in the humanities or Advanced Placement classes but instead are in the lower levels. I myself am an example of one who has taken advantage of the corruption. Case in point: I have been taking Spanish courses for eight years of my life. Anyone who spent a small fraction of this time in a Hispanic nation would become fluent in the language through experience. Currently, I am getting an A- in Spanish 5, without the confidence in being able to speak a single, flowing conversation in the language. This is not a result of poor teachers, but rather a consequence of an inefficient education system. I am in the most rigorous courses offered to a senior, yet I would most willingly confess that many of my peers in lower levels, many of whom are failing certain courses, are much more intelligent than I. Unfortunately, because of the common bias that students with poor working habits are weaker critical thinkers than the straight-A students, a few teachers and faculty mistakenly judge adolescents and treat them unfairly, without proper respect. Gabe Lefferts, son of Halleck and Theresa Lefferts of Salisbury, is a senior at Housatonic Valley Regional High School and will be graduating in June.