Teach Yourself Why Don’t You?

Let Students Teach!

Many school administrators and government officials believe that following a core curriculum with a set of standard requirements provides school systems with the necessary structure that promotes growth in the minds of young students. They often enforce a common syllabus in which the same assignments are repeated over and over every school year. However, the approach that school systems take towards teaching leaves its with a bad taste for learning.

For this reason, students should be encouraged to explore a variety of project ideas that aim to promote the use of problem solving and creativity while still meeting educational requirements- and from this, a new passion with curiosity about learning will develop as well as a new found independence. This calls for a revolution in the standard “curriculum” of public schooling.

Why must students comply with the school’s expectations of learning when clearly students in the classroom have a multitude of interests beyond that of simple core content courses? When these students find the same monotonous lessons, to be tedious and uninteresting, they will eventually drop out or become lost in a wave of mental confusion. Students aren’t taught all of the valuable facets of life in the real-world, and because of this, they drown in depression, confusion and their lack of critical thinking skills. Get your head out of the gutters, people, Common Core SUCKS. Common Core simply forces kids to learn to testing standards. When this happens, the brilliant kids create subpar work, and the struggling kids do not get individual-directed instruction. It’s a lose-lose.

According to Alfie Kohn, author of Choices for Children, “disengagement and apathy” is becoming a nascent issue within the traditional classroom setting. He states that the true problem of this educational “burnout” of students is not an issue of apathy, but an issue within the school system itself, “much of what is disturbing about students’ attitudes and behavior may be a function of the fact that they have little to say about what happens to them all day. They are compelled to follow someone else’s rules, study someone else’s curriculum, and submit continually to someone else’s evaluation,” [4]. Students do not naturally have a lackadaisical attitude towards learning, in fact, many of them are curious individuals who want to learn about interesting topics. Many students are engaged in learning, but only when it gives them the opportunity to express themselves in a unique and creative way. Students desire innovative learning, learning that will question traditional methods of teaching. This ideal approach to teaching can be achieved by providing a variety of topics on which students can fulfill course requirements.

In addition to creating more enthusiasm within the classroom, the creation of multi-faceted projects will promote the growth of independence among students. To students, it seems as if teachers and administrators only care about test scores, not about letting the student grow as an individual. If all students are treated exactly the same based on the school system standards of teaching, then individuality will not develop in students and many of them won’t enjoy the school work they are given; they will simply be completing their work to earn an “A”. These same students will not have the ability to think for themselves nor survive on their own because they will not recognize how to think abstractly in real-world situations. In fact, “one survey of American schools has confirmed [that] students are rarely invited to become active participants in their own education. Schooling is typically about doing things to children, not working with them. [This can be acknowledged in the] array of punishments and rewards… used to enforce compliance with an agenda that students rarely have any opportunity to influence,” [4]. Students are not allowed to be independent academically in schools, and they are suffering because they are denied an explorative education. No student wants to be forced to write numerous papers based off of articles found online or to create outdated power point presentations about dry topics. Students want to go out into the real world and interview professionals within their paper topic. Students want to create presentations that have purpose, presentations that have world views. For example, instead of writing an argumentative essay, a student may choose to create a documentary that contains a strong argument while still including citations in the end credits, or instead of creating a power point in a political science class, a student may choose to engage in a political debate with professionals in that career and write a report on what they learned.

By allowing students to choose what they want to learn and how, the school systems will find themselves with students more engaged in the classroom with the independence and motivation to put full effort into all assignments.

Some teaching professionals have proposed the idea that it will be beneficial to the education systems in America if students are payed to make an effort in class. Instead of giving children the liberty to decide for themselves, teachers would rather pay students to get good grades. “According to a study released by the social-policy research group MDRC, a nonpartisan organization best known for evaluating state welfare-to-work programs, cash incentives combined with counseling offered ‘real hope’ to low-income and nontraditional students at two Louisiana community colleges. The program for low-income parents was simple: enroll in college at least half-time, maintain at least a C average and earn $1,000 a semester for up to two terms. Participants, who were randomly selected, were 30% more likely to register for a second semester than were students who were not offered the supplemental financial aid. [Students] were also more likely than their peers to be enrolled in college a year after they had finished the two-term program,” [3]. Yet, this study yields nothing to the fact that paying students for good grades actually improves intelligence and success in the future. The study further found that, “although U.S. college enrollment has climbed, college completion rates have not. Only a third of students who enroll in community colleges — which educate nearly half the undergraduates in the U.S. — get a degree within six years,” [3]. In conclusion, there seem to be no real benefits in this method. In fact, many higher-education professionals believe that students lose their motivation to learn and will begin to take easy classes in order to ensure money. In essence, students will be giving the intrinsic value of knowledge up to the external reward of money, a practice that surely will not give American students independence nor value in society [3].

As new innovations are created within the modern world, students will find themselves subjected to the “most-popular” means of living which include new technologies, methods of working and interacting with one another. “In the next 20 years the world will change at a staggering pace. [careers require] young people who can think outside the box… Formal academic training can sometimes hinder that by teaching students to follow models rather than innovate. So if we want to make people innovative, or creative, we need to get out of this system,” [1]. When given the liberty to decide for themselves, students will discover a multitude of interests while learning to become freethinkers in addition to living with and solving real-world problems.

The education systems in America are in dire need of a revolution. Change won’t cut it anymore, guys. We need a complete revaluation and reboot of our systems. If our country could see the benefits of variety and independence in academic assignments, students would find themselves finally interested and excited to learn. There are such an eclectic selection of interests among students, so why not grant them the power and responsibility of creativity and independence?

It’s simple, really. Students should be able choose the means that they go about completing an assignment or project, and this way students will have no excuses to be apathetic in school. After modernizing the approach to teaching, the education system will find that students will want to come to school with a transformed passion for learning!


Works Cited

  1. Beardsley, Eleanor, and Sardinac Qtd. “A School With No Teachers, Where Students Teach Themselves.” Weblog post. MindShift. MindShift, 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
  2. Beardsley, Eleanor. “A School With No Teachers, Where Students Teach Themselves.” MindShift. MindShift, 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
  3. Fitzpatrick, Laura. “Should Students Be Paid for Good Grades?” Time. Time Inc., 14 Jan. 2009. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.
  4. Kohn, Alfie. “Choices for Children.” Choices for Children. Phi Delta Kappan, Sept. 1993. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.

RL, 2016.

Copyright 2016-Present. Please cite any use of this work, thank you.

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