I wish that the educational system allowed for greater development of students' interests and natural abilities.
It saddens me that so many children go through school feeling as if they are not smart enough and are being scorned by their parents for not making the "honor roll" when they are doing the best that they can.
I wonder what our educational system might be if it was designed to give more opportunities to the children within it. For instance, if, from middle school, students were given a chance to choose their program of study as they would in college and their courses were designed to prepare them specifically for the field in which they were interested. I wonder if students would perform better in school if they were learning what was interesting to them, rather than what was mandated.
Sure, we want our students to be competitive with those in other countries, but not all students will be intrigued by the same things.
Therefore, an over-emphasized focus on certain subjects and certain fields alienates many students whose interest and abilities lie elsewhere. I think that if our educational system exposed our students to a wide array of fields early on and then educated them based on the field(s) they choose, the result would be more well-rounded, better educated, and most importantly, happier students.
For example, students interested in the arts would be exposed to the arts and all of their studies and training would be geared toward developing their natural gifts and abilities rather than these same students struggling through classes that will mean nothing to them in their futures. Have we considered that this might be one plausible answer in reducing the dropout rate? The percentage of dropouts that are based on students' feelings of inadequacy or inability to learn what they are being taught would be directly and positively impacted by a reformed educational system.
This kind of change could likely have long-term benefits in that we might see improved self-confidence and self-esteem and, therefore, improved productivity in our students as they move through school. I figure that happier students who have had the opportunity to truly learn rather than having to struggle for a passing grade will do better in the classrooms, their chosen fields and in life in general.
Of course, I am speaking generally here and there are probably lots of holes in what I am proposing, but it couldn't be any worse than the broken system we have in place currently. We still have huge numbers of dropouts, and not all students go on to college. However, if schools were designed where students could study and then, maybe in high school, begin to train in the fields that they already had a propensity for, I believe we would do some real good to change the way students' success was measured.
So often students who struggle and, despite their efforts, earn "C's" are overlooked by teachers, looked down upon by peers, and punished by parents. Imagine that. It is not the students who should be made to feel substandard or like failures. It is the educational system that should.
Students' success should not be measured by a grading scale that does not account for the different ways in which they learn and the different ways in which they can be successful. What you do think?
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.