How should students be taught? This question doesn’t have an exact or definite answer, but some things can be said for certain. Teaching to the test, teaching only material that will appear on the test, is not effective in the long run. All that it does is make teachers look good; it boosts the test scores that the higher-ups pay attention to. It serves to undermine the possible education that the students should receive and set them up to fail in their upper studies. The school system, as it is, is ineffective and should be replaced immediately.
The current system has ruined the minds of many students. I have watched as other students around me become slaves to the tests they took. They only worried about the grade they got and not the knowledge they gained. I myself have been guilty of this on multiple occasions throughout my pre-college education. Since coming to college, I have refocused on what is important, the information gained and the way that I apply this knowledge to my life. I don’t intend to point the finger at any one group of people. I don’t mean to finger the students, the parents, the teachers, or the government. I intend to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the entire American populace. I believe that the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” applies perfectly in the situation of education.
The government had good intentions with the institution of the SOLs. I’m sure they also had good intentions for the “No Child Left Behind” act. These both had unforeseen negative consequences. The SOLs led to teachers teaching only the material that would be asked on the test, to make sure that they seemed like competent teachers. The “No Child Left Behind” act had the consequence of forcing teachers to improve their SOL test scores annually or else their students would be given wavers to attend private schools. This seems to force teachers to increase the negative action of teaching only test material.
I consider my experience to be an exception to the standard program, due to the fact that I was accepted into the “Gifted and Talented” program at a young age. I received a different education than most, consisting of advanced courses. When a student takes an advanced class, they notice a difference in the attitude of the teachers. The teachers of advanced programs are usually more interested in the material than the test. They care more about their students learning than they do about the students passing their class.
I believe that our current school system sabotages students into a mode of thought that leads to a lack of learning and a lack on knowledge. I also believe that we can change the current system to make it work. There is no doubt that our system is flawed, but it isn’t beyond repair. We could alter the method of standardized testing, because it is necessary on some level. We can scrap the “No Child Left Behind” act, because it is ineffective. The system is not all bad, but it needs serious change in order to be effective.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.