Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

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Location: North Carolina, United States

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Education Ain't Intelligent

Recently, it has been approved in Texas that another year of math and science be required to graduate. This is a ridiculous idea and will not increase the level of aptitude people carry into college. Hearing about this also led me to consider how the school system could be improved to better prepare students for college.

The idea behind requiring additional courses to graduate is that students will be more rounded and prepared for college. However, being a student myself, I can honestly say that adding additional courses does not necessarily equal more learning. If a student wants to learn a subject, three years has proven itself to be plenty (after all, there's nothing wrong with those who have found success in the past). However, if a student does not want to learn a subject, an additional year will result in another year of not learning about a subject that a student is not interested in. Also, it has been proven that students in extracurricular activities focus/perform better in school. Extra courses will cause some to drop out of these activities, and by extension will reduce some students' focus.

Despite taking the classes, the philosophy of a "well-rounded education" drops off at a certain point. I'm guessing most students find their niche by 10-11th grade. From this point forth, they will retain very little in classes they do not excel in, but retain quite a lot in classes they do excel in. Logically, their college degree (assuming they attend college; we'll hit that later) will focus on what they excel in. So, by extension, better preparing students for college should involve taking multiple courses they excel in and less courses they do not excel in, instead of dumping more generic classes on a mixed group of people in which some will retain little and others a lot.

One of the main wastes of time in high school is taking American History and World History again. I understand taking it once in junior high; that's great, everyone needs to be exposed to their past. Let's face it, though; history is very seldom useful in most occupations, or life in general. If I were to become an engineer, it would help more to get ahead on my math skills and take 1-2 extra math/engineering courses than to learn more history that I will inevitably forget 95%+ of by the time I'm 30 years old. If they want to better prepare students for college, specialized course schedules are needed.

Time to get down to a more technical view. Mandatory math and english courses should stay the same (the math being the current three years, not the future four years). Math, reading, and writing are essential, everyday skills. Mandatory social studies/history courses should end in 10th grade, with Geography. Mandatory science classes are questionable, but I would only go with two years: Integrated Physics and Chemistry, and Biology. This would provide basic exposure to three main fronts of science. Comparing this to the current system, a few courses are now free to specialization.

As mentioned earlier, most people ought to have found a niche by 10th-11th grade. With less mandatory requirements, students can focus on their strengths. Those strong in math could take 1-2 additional math courses, those strong in history could go ahead and take 2-3 extra history courses, and so on. More time for specialized courses, especially those in magnet schools, would also be available to those who have interests or strengths in these areas. Those unable to attend college for any reason would have time to take technical skills courses that will give them the ability to find better-paying jobs in the future, improving the overall work force.

In short, less mandatory classes to encourage higher specialization and focus on strengths is the proper way to improve the work force and get students ready for college. Unfortunately, the aforementioned "educational experts" prefer to simply add more courses, adding further rigidity to an already difficult path to graduation and forcing students to take courses that will ultimately be less than useful in the future.

LAEvanesce~

3 Comments:

Blogger AnoNick said...

The education system in India is different (it has it's own problems, though). Here, everyone studies almost the same courses till year 10, and then we choose from three streams: Arts (Humanities), Science, and Commerce.
There's not much of languages and none of humanities in science... math is in all three streams. Commerce is geared completely towards industry, and the humanities are what you'd expect. So everyone has to choose their stream after year 10.
It has it's own problems, mainly dealing with the cirriculum. The pattern is nice, though.

6:05 AM  
Blogger LAEvanesce said...

Hmm, that's very interesting Anonick... I'd love it if you did a further detailed piece on the educational system in India (and its problems, since you mentioned that it also had some), since I'm always concerned with education, and all of us foreign folk could better understand how it works in another country. That is, if that falls into your area of interest ^^

12:38 PM  
Blogger AnoNick said...

Well... actually, it doesn't really fall in my area of interest... but I'll try. But my next few posts are booked ;-) Some limericks, a personal post, a poem... I'll try to fit this one in too. :)

5:46 AM  

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