By: Aleena Khan
The modern day American education system places 25th best in science and reading and 38th best in math, compared to every other country in this world. Even though America scores a bit above and below the OECD’s average, American schools are still lacking in a lot of areas.
Whether online school or real life school is happening, students are being overloaded with work. They are being crammed with school work to the point where their stress levels have increased majorly.
As Sophie Bethune, an expert on stress and anxiety, said, ”Teens report that their stress level during the school year exceeds what they believe is healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10 point scale…”(Bethune).
The school system overworks kids and tries to make them balance a social life, good grades, clubs and practices, all while keeping students' mental health in check. The amount of work on their plate causes students on average to get “...about 6.5-7.5 hours sleep per night”(Teenagers and Sleep). School work begins to intrude on essentials like sleeping, eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle overall.
Not only do kids go to school for about six and a half hours but on top of that they do homework which takes approximately three hours. That takes 9 hours out of 24. Teens should get 8 hours of sleep each night and that totals 17 hours of a day. You have to add in sports practices, eating and cubs which totals into a full schedule. That doesn't leave time for friends, family and so on.
Along with being overworked, the expectations are unrealistic. Colleges want kids who take AP classes, all A’s, many extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, prior work hours and so on. They expect students to maintain all of this, which seems a lot easier than said. There are always people who are better, however colleges put such a high bar that it deteriorates students' mental health.
According to Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students, “Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year. So in a school classroom of 25 students, five of them may be struggling with the same issues many adults deal with: depression, anxiety, substance abuse”(Anderson).
Students' health is not prioritized as much as they should be, there is approximately one school psychologist, three counselors, and a couple school nurses to about 1200 students. That means if students need specific help, the school system may not have enough resources to help students. As well as the fact that some students may not trust the school system and avoid talking to the school about issues.
Schools have students memorize and forget rather than actual learning. Learning is “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught”(Oxford Dictionary). Children and teens study day and night for a test, just to forget it in a week. That isn't learning, it's just taking in information just to let it all out. Rather than getting students to engage and being interested in learning, the school system and teachers shove information down students' throats.
According to Difference between Learning and Memory,“Learning occurs slowly over time by reinforcing concepts and forcing them into long term memory. Simple memorization occurs quickly but is lost over time”. Students are being forced to speed through their curriculum because of online learning. They do double the work in half the time and they are expected to maintain that schedule and workload. This is a major stressor for most students.
What students memorize is the basics of math, history, English, and science. What schools don't teach students are taxes, credit score, investing in money, what to say in interviews and how to budget. School is supposed to prepare students for the future, it's supposed to prepare the future generation for taking over. However, does it really teach students what they need to know? The school system hasn't taught the future generation everything they need to know, but rather things that students are uninterested in and won't use in the future.
Teachers teach every grade the same classes with the same techniques even though every kid is different and learns in different ways. Not all students are academically gifted, some are more artistically gifted or athletically gifted but the way the school system is set up, children believe they are not smart because they aren't academically gifted. Teaching kids with all different mindsets the same way is a recipe for disaster because not every kid's brain works the same.
As Albert Einstein once said, ”Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
When teachers judge each individual student by their grades, they will believe they aren't smart enough. The school system doesn't take into account how everyone learns, but rather a couple of students' way of learning. It's the same with classes. Students are required to take years upon years of science and history when maybe that's not their strong suit. They force kids to take classes that they clearly struggle in and dont enjoy, which makes students believe that they are not intelligent in certain subjects. It is extremely discouraging. The curriculum is such a broad array of topics that not all children are interested in.
“Here in America, in every single state, they have a set of standards for every single subject, a collection of lessons that the teachers are required to teach by the end of term. But the greatest lessons you will ever teach us will never come from your syllabus”(2014 - Brave New Voices (Finals) - "Somewhere in America" by Los Angeles Team).
The lessons that are needed to be learned will never be taught. The school education system has failed many students. So what needs to change? Do the adults of this generation need to change this system that destroys children's sanity?