After PARCC testing this spring, sophomores in Scott Hauenstein’s English 2 class got interested in exploring the current state of education in our country.  They read an article published by Harvard called “What’s Worth Learning in School,” and watched and discussed a student documentary called Losing Ourselves and the documentary Waiting for Superman (links below). See what our current students and future leaders have to say about school in these excerpts from some of their written responses:

“What is worth learning in school? This is a question we consider almost daily. I believe that the material given to students, should not be subjects that will not be used in most careers but rather skills that will be used daily in life. One of these skills for example, could be paying your taxes, or learning how to balance a checkbook. These skills, though they may seem insignificant, are actually very important. Let’s say that a person’s mind is an attic. Some people try to cram as much knowledge into their attic but ultimately lose some of the most important skills needed to useless knowledge. Then there are people who carefully pick and choose the knowledge they wish to remember, gaining only the knowledge they need for their lives as well as space for new knowledge that will further help them in their careers. Carefully choosing the knowledge you let into your brain is much more important than cramming all the knowledge that will never be used.”

“In the article “What’s Worth Learning in School?” by Lory Hough the author proceeds to inform the reader about tests:  “We give those tests. We evaluate those tests. But that makes for shallow learning and understanding… You cram to do well on the test but may not have the understanding. It unravels.”  The author states that tests are easy to give out and it’s easy to grade, but it doesn’t give us the full capacity of learning and understanding of a topic. Teachers cram the students with learning without a full understanding, which leads to a for. Education is important. It’s nice to know things and share my knowledge with my peers. But I believe knowledge is for going somewhere, not just accumulating useless information which I tend to forget. School education focuses on short-term success: passing 11th grade, passing a spelling test, passing the PARCC test. The school system, I believe, should have more information that will be useful for lives and job/career.”

What is worth learning in school and why do you want to learn it? This question is very controversial. Somethings that I might find very interesting in school, other might not. But it’s not just that. Something I might find interesting could be pretty controversial toward the entire school’s curriculum requirements. For example, in some high schools in Arizona, they’re trying to get rid of Mexican cultural classes because the public education did not think it was relevant to what the student needs to graduate, so they’re trying to get the class out of the curriculum. The problem is that I would totally take that class. I would enjoy taking that class because any chance I get to learn about my culture I take advantage of it. The problem is that the things you want to learn in school are irrelevant because they want you to devote your entire being to taking classes that will take you to college, not to expand your knowledge on the world like learning about the stars, the anatomy of life and things that bring joy to your life–something you enjoy doing.”

“I think art is worth learning in school.  I think that this is a very important subject to work with because it helps with creativity and some basic problem solving.  Art helps the students express their feelings and ideas.  Whatever they imagine, they could create.  I think this would help students with other problems in other classes, writing papers, presentations etc.  Another important skill that it teaches you is how to work with your hands.  I think that it is important to be able to create something with your hands.”

Links:

Video https://youtu.be/9Wr7OPT5R2M
Harvard article http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/15/01/whats-worth-learning-school