I'm losing my faith in the educational system. Of course, right now, I am a senior in college at a small liberal arts college, with aspirations of one day going to get a master's degree, I am from the upper middle class, I am white, and I went to a small private school in Portland Maine. In other words, I am considered to be the stereotypical college aged kid, and I am following the system to a t, so therefore I don't really get the authority to criticize it since I am the poster child. Fine, I accept that. However I think my issue with the educational system has to do with everything I hear and understand about the schools that I did not attend. I have been fortunate, unbelievably fortunate in my experiences and opportunities in this world. However every step of the way, I look back at what I received, and then look at what those institutions are giving to the students arriving in my wake, and it is different. Very different. I could get into the specifics, but I love my current school and my old school and I have no interest in being critical of what I am sure were important, and difficult decisions which came from a place of much more experience than I have. Instead I'll talk about what I received, and what I see happening these days.
When I was in school, I was given a well-rounded, reason based, education which also focused on introducing kids to athletics, music, art, performance art, as well as various cultures, races, religions, creeds, and ideas. It's entire purpose was about a educationally hands on approach, while still allowing kids the space to utilize their knowledge to make their own discoveries and understandings about life. Instead of being lectured at, we were brought into conversation, and the teachers were skilled in leading conversations to outcomes they intended us to arrive at. What has changed? On the surface, nothing. However what brews under the surface is much more important. I was schooled in school, I took part in extra-curricular activities, and when I was at home I was away. What was important is that I was taught how to think, but rarely taught what to think.
I'm now taking a class at Ithaca College called "Social and Cultural Foundations of Education" and I find the class absolutely fascinating. It comes at education from an idealistic place, so that instead of allowing pure cynicism about the faults of the educational system, it uses the negative as opportunities to create more positives. Through the class, and different explorations of aspects of the educational system every week we hope to create a set of standards which school's could adapt to possibly better themselves. However, I'm having trouble believing in them.
Here is my issue:
I would like to preface all of these statements by saying that I am the biggest fan of extra-curriculars (hell, I'm a theatre major and was a four year two sport varsity player). However I also have an undeniable love for learning.
Does anyone but me see the problem here?
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
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