An Evaluation of Our Current Educational System and Its Needs for Improvements

Categories: Education

Education is the backbone of society. We are judged on our intelligence from the moment we are born; from when we say our first word, to learning our times tables, to getting into college, to landing a job, and all the steps in between. Our lives are determined by intelligence-based accomplishments, which are mostly due to the level of education we are exposed to during our adolescence. Children exposed to better schooling are given an advantage early in life. This “better” schooling (private school) is most often associated with social class and money, making an entire class of people more privileged.

However, what makes private schools so different from public ones? Besides the type of student that enrolls, the foundation of a school is generally universal. The curriculum nationwide is similar no matter what school you go to, and variables such as location should not have any effect. It boils down to the teachers and students: the ability of the teachers to connect to each class of students, and the willingness of the students to trust the teacher and want to learn the course material.

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Paulo Freire, in his essay “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education,” studies this relationship and highlights its flaws and how he believes we can improve them. Freire defines the ‘banking’ concept by picturing students as receptacles for the teachers to deposit information in, with no regard to whether or not the student comprehends the information they are given. “The more completely [the student] accept[s] the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them” (319).

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He believes this is the fundamental flaw in educational systems today, and suggests “the solution is not to ‘integrate’ [the students) into the structure of oppression, but to transform that structure so that they can become ‘beings for themselves'” (320). In other words, we should be reevaluating the school system instead of wondering why students are not succeeding.

School should be engaging, given the students are willing to become engaged. If the students refuse to participate, then there is not much a teacher can do, regardless of their teaching ability. “Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other” (319). The relationship between the teacher and the students should consist of conversation: a process of arguing and negotiation so that the students do not merely memorize the information, but fully understand the concepts. “Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day.” (U.S. Department of Education) This number represents the young adults who have given up on memorization skills determining their level of intelligence. As Freire states, “education is suffering from narration sickness” (318), and no one seems in a hurry to change this.

Mary Louise Pratt, in her essay “Arts of the Contact Zone,” opens with a personal narrative concerning her son, Sam, and his education. She expresses her frustration that Sam learns more valuable skills from the baseball cards he buys and trades than the lessons he is taught in school: “…Schooling itself gave him nothing remotely as meaningful to do, let alone anything that would actually take him beyond the referential, masculinist ethos of baseball and its lore” (486). She discusses the “senses of patterning and order… and aesthetic judgment” he developed, as well as a sense of “the power and arbitrariness of money” that he would not have obtained in a classroom. This leads Pratt to question our school system, and what is actually being taught in our classrooms.

Given this example from Pratt, can we confidently say our education system prepares us for the real world? Beyond high school, college, and/or graduate school, is the majority of our country’s population ready to find a job and live independently? We nurture our students from the beginning, only to throw them out on their own with a degree that might not even correlate to the job they end up in. In an article by William McGuinness in The Huffington Post, new research states, “nearly half of the nation’s recent college graduates work jobs that don’t require a degree.” So are we under or overeducated? We have a plethora of students working jobs that do not pertain to what they studied in college who also do not know how to navigate adulthood. Why should we stick to a system that does not adequately prepare us for the real world?

In the world today, I have found that “common sense is not so common,” (Voltaire, A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary) and that perhaps if we implemented this trait into classes at an early age, we would have a more intelligent public body. Giving the term “common sense” a more tangible name, it is often known in classrooms as critical thinking. Although this is incorporated into schooling to some extent, it is important enough to start as young as first grade. These analytical and quantitative skills are what propels society forward, so imagine how much further we would advance if the majority of our population thought this way.

Outside the classroom, common sense has a more applicable meaning when it comes to getting by in life. However, when do we have the opportunity to learn these skills, when the majority of our time is spent in mandatory schooling? Not everyone has parents or guardians who can explain such things as taxes or student loans, so why do schools shy away from the opportunity to do so in their place? The priority of the educators should be to educate.

In sixth grade, I was enrolled in the private catholic school Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, CT: uniforms, religion class, entitled upper class families, and a strict goal of having students that succeed in and out of the classroom. So when my father petitioned to create a life skills class implemented into the curriculum, many were shocked that it got rejected. The outline for the class was to prepare middle schoolers for issues they might start to encounter in high school. Examples included: receiving your first credit or debit card and knowing the difference between the two, managing a bank account, writing a check and managing a check book, and tracking finances using excel. All are valuable skills that I was fortunate enough to have a grasp of as I went into high school, and made me a more independent individual. I was also a lot more informed than most when applying to college, since I was aware of how financial aid and student loans functioned.

As the world advances, our schools should adapt to fit the times. We live in a time of innovation and technological discoveries that were only made possible because select people were inspired to change the world. If we merely deposit information into our children, how can we expect them to be inspired to contribute to these changes? We are overeducated in the ‘banking’ style of schooling, and therefore undereducated in what really matters. Our schooling communities should be engaged and fascinated by the world, and aim to solve its problems, not shy away when it gets difficult. In order to create a more engaged society, we just have to find the right proportion of over and under.

Works Cited

  1. Freire, Paulo. “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers Ninth Edition. Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s: 2011. 28-64. Print.
  2. Miller, Tony. “Partnering for Education Reform.” U.S. Department of Education. Accessed February 18, 2015. Pratt, Mary Louise. “Arts of the Contact Zone.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers Ninth Edition. Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. 
  3. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s: 2011. 485-497. Print. Voltaire. A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

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An Evaluation of Our Current Educational System and Its Needs for Improvements. (2021, Sep 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/an-evaluation-of-our-current-educational-system-and-its-needs-for-improvements-essay

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