The Education System is Cheating Me
by a high school senior from southern California
I’m a high school senior now. I live in an urban community, meaning that schools in my town are embarrassingly underprivileged. All my life I feel that I’ve been cheated by the traditional education system. All students do is zone out on lectures, do class activities, and then go home with homework. My younger brother suffered so dearly during elementary school and the family would be up past 10pm shouting criticisms, shedding tears, then leaving the rest for the morning as we ate breakfast. Although the whole system is flawed, homework is possibly the most responsible for failing and loss of interest.
Homework is very exhausting. At my mediocre “honors” school, homework is taken to a whole new and annoying level. We get useless weekly projects that don’t help students understand the material. We are forced to take notes at home in addition to class notes. We do vocabulary…in the 11th grade! Math students have to do power point presentations, essays and research! Physical education students must also do essays and reports. It’s utterly ridiculous. People suffer from back pain due to hauling in a notebook for every subject, that needs to be checked weekly.
My school has no sports team, no library, no stable clubs, poor funding, and the school is entirely composed of trailer classrooms. On top of this, state standards have caused homework and the rest to become even more prolonged. We must write the standard pertaining to the assignment before we begin. So yep, I go to a bungalow school with no school pride, overcrowding, and tedious homework every night.
And then I realized something else. Homework is counterproductive. I remember this past junior year, asking friends what we learned in U.S. History, the most tedious class. No one knew. I asked, “What was in chapter one?” Shrugs.
“What is the encomienda system?” (System Christopher Columbus used to keep captured natives in line.)
“The ‘what’ system?”
It was sad. But…when you asked them to explain the plot of their favorite anime, or to talk about the latest book they read – they’re on it. It’s because homework causes disinterest and doesn’t allow kids the freedom to explore and find their interests. Because it is so overwhelming and in the end irrelevant to class time, students shut off and go into “auto work”. They call friends and cheat. I personally scribbled and faked bad handwriting so that my work would still get stamped. And then the morning after it’s gone. Traditional education is like that across the board. Students text and daydream while the lecture is on.
The monotony of it all is causing a dangerous cycle. The uneventful class time causes students to resent and not care about homework. That causes students not to learn. Then when homework time comes, other activities are missed out on and we can’t just relax, which turns into procrastination to avoid the pain of not knowing the material and leaving your leisure. The procrastination backfires when it’s time to take a useless test or do a project. Then we cram. We pass the test and complete the project. Mediocre results, yet still no one cares. Wash rinse and repeat. That’s what happens to a person’s brain under the traditional system.
I suggest that all schools adopt the free school, democratic, or Sudbury Valley models of education. It allows age mixing, pursuit of interests, allows trial and error, inclusion in the school’s operation and things aren’t needlessly forced onto students.
I’ve even dedicated my time to a blog that covers topics on the problems in traditional education: introvertedwisdom.com.