Education Reform through Student Action.
Students: The largest unrepresented group of people in the United States
I am currently at the end of my freshman year in college at the University of Georgia, and have a serious gripe with the education system that dates back to middle school. Now you can say I am just a gruntled student who just hates homework, but this is not the case. I, like i believe most of us do, love to learn. I love to expand my horizons and truly unlock my academic potential. Unfortunately that rarely happens in classrooms these days. School has become nothing more than a place in which kids go and hear hours and hours of information and are expecting to memorize it, then regurgitate it a week later for an exam. Then, once the data is collected and all the test scores received, the top 10% get the accolades, the praise and eventually the scholarships while the other 90% struggle to see such positive reinforcement. This attitude and negligence of the majority has led to a major fault in our education system. Just because a student lacks the ability to memorize countless hours of [useless] information, doesn't mean he or she cannot become extremely successful in whatever business endeavor he or she wishes to explore. When did education become this big competition where only the top survive and the rest are left to pick up the scraps? We have to redefine what it means to be an academic success, because we are losing this academic battle worldwide.
In my time at Great Neck North High School, I saw much success in both academic and athletic fields but that is not to say I didn't struggle. My particular struggle is with science. Science of any kind, Biology, Chemistry, even Environmental. Even despite my best effort with tutors, extra hours of work, meetings with teachers, I was unable to grasp the concepts therefore suffering in the class ultimately causing my GPA to suffer. I often found myself dumbfounded by the fact that I could do so well in some subjects and excel with ease, struggle so mightily with one subject. I thought I was a failure and just gave up on the subject completely. I figured well if I worked hard enough and did well enough in every other subject I'd cancel the bad science grades out. That mindset right there in lies the issue. What is your definition of success in the classroom. An overwhelming majority of people believe that "Academic Success" is perfect grades and going to a top Ivy League school. I'm here to submit that we change the definition of this daunting and troublesome phrase. I truly believe that a students best work is academic success. Everyone simply cannot be good at everything, otherwise we would have no specialty jobs. Not everyone can be a straight A student. Those students who constantly show good merit and show intent to want to learn and be productive in class should be rewarded for such behavior. If the best a student can do is a C, but hands in all his homework, shows up for every class and is attentive in that class, and asks for help when needed, what more can and should we expect?
We need to teach kids, work ethic, creative and intuitive problem solving skills, and communication abilities. The biggest thing most students say they wish they had is a better work ethic. Procrastination and complacency has become a major issue in the education world because students just don't want to do the work they believe to be tedious. If we teach kids the right way to learn and the right way to problem-solve, then learning all the material we have to learn will become easier. By teaching people how to solve problems and how to approach situations no matter the extraneous details, we can help produce effective, well-rounded, and efficient students and adults. Obviously no two students are alike, thus how can a uniform curriculum possibly be the best solution for a student body of 2,000 or even in my case 30,000? The answer, simply, it can't. Kids should be helped to recognize their strengths, be able to act on their strengths, thus really unlocked their true potential. If a student is a very strong math student at a young age, but lacks the ability to memorize history, he or she should be able to create a schedule that benefits him, with some basic courses to develop a general education, but one based on the strengths and abilities of each student. Some might say this is impossible or way too time consuming. I say thats bullshit. Teachers and administrators have a 2 month summer vacation along with several other multiple week vacations throughout the year. No other job sees this kind of vacation time and I believe it is the administrators jobs to actually use this time responsibly. Each educator or administrator went into the field of academics because ether want to improve the world for the future by teaching todays young faces that will eventually become our present. I know reform doesn't come in a day or even a year, but if we never start the movement, will it ever end?
My good friend Zak Malamed has started the organization, Student Voice. Their mission statement is, "Student Voice strives to create an international network of empowered students by providing them with the tools they need to use their voice in policy discussions." I have recently joined his efforts in giving students a voice. I encourage all of you reading this students or not to get involved in this great organization. Even if you don't, educate yourself, know what possibilities are out there. We as students are the biggest body of people with the smallest voice in Washington D.C. We now have the power through social media to connect like never before. It would be a waste to not utilize the tools given before us to unite as hundreds of millions if not billions of students worldwide to gain a voice. We need reform and we need to yell it not as just a blog or a website, but a united front of students with one goal in mind, listen to us and change the system because it doesn't work.
If you would like to get involved with Student Voice, visit Stuvoice.org and use the hashtag #Stuvoice on twitter, or contact me through this blog. You can also email me at Gabed8@uga.edu if you would like to blog for the website as I do. Thank you again for reading!!