Most people who have been in school recently, have children/siblings/friends in school, or have kept an eye on their local education system agree that there is absolutely room for improvement. The thing is, some systems are so out of whack that you kind of don't know where to start.
But thanks to a recent Reddit thread, people are taking a moment to stop and think about it.
Reddit user ham193 asked:
We can't imagine a world where one single change would fix everything for everyone - but each of the changes these people came up with seem like they would have made a huge difference for a few people out there. It's possible a combination of a few of these suggestions might be just what we need to get our education system back on track, or at least closer to functioning for more than the narrow groups of people it's designed for.
Take a look at some of these stories and suggestions.
Adding relevant courses, so if a student is shite academically but good with their hands then they can learn a trade rather than feel like a failure.
Here in Australia we have those classes. It starts in grades 8 and 9 as woodworking and metalworking and then from grades 10-12 they can attend TAFE where they become apprentices in their chosen trade: electrician, builder, mechanic, etc. It works really well because they still attend school part time where they take a different English and Maths class that basically outlines how to budget, how to write emails and resumes and other life skills. Then when they graduate, they're three years into an apprenticeship and set to pretty much graduate into a job.
I'm an elementary teacher and in my school I've already seen a huge shift in current curricula towards getting kids to understand WHY a process works. I think this is such a positive paradigm shift from "just memorize this algorithm or strategy." When kids understand a process, the level of transfer is so much higher!
Do It Later
Late start to the school day for high school. The research is really clear on this, if you start elementary classes earlier and high school later both groups do better.
High school kids tend to stay up just as late regardless of when they've got to get up (I certainly didn't stray from that), and sleep is important in the formation of long term memories. Which is ideally what you're trying to promote through education.
A soon teacher-to-be here. The biggest thing that haunts the education system in the country I live in (Sweden) is the fact that there are several changes made to it every time a new government is elected, but there are never studies made or any kind of reflections about these changes. Between 2009 - 2012 we changed our grade system three times! and no one batted an eye. Some students who were caught in-between the changes and had to redo a bunch of stuff to receive valid grades.
Our education system is so patch-worked due to these quick (without much thoughts) changes that many faculties claim that Sweden basically is a big Social Experiment where no one asks questions. The key word is chaos...
P.S I completely understand the wish to make new innovations and leave your mark as a politician but since all changes made the last 6 years have utterly failed and been forgotten (with thousands of tax money wasted and hurdles of extra stress on teachers to implement the new ideas) I genuinely find myself wishing that politicians were banned from making policies related to the education system here.
Personally I feel as if the examination system is outdated. Intellect isn't based on their ability to memorize, its a combination of thing. And exams really handicap people who may excel at other parts of learning.
100% agree. I got A's throughout all my coursework (essays, projects etc.) but in my exams I failed miserably and got D's because I struggle to excel in that space. Brought my grade's down hugely and made me think I was dumb when it's really the exam system that's dumb.
Zero Tolerance For Zero Tolerance
Get rid of "zero tolerance" because it's the dumbest thing ever though up in this universe.
This is true because if we are both going to get in trouble what's gonna stop me from hitting first?
Big time. That was the policy for bullying at my middle school and all that ever happened was me getting blamed for being bullied, if anything.
Sometimes I daydream about being a high school teacher. Like, maybe I teach AP Bio, and we talk about cells. But then I dedicate every Friday to talking about things I wish I had known before becoming an adult. We talk about taxes, life insurance, etc. with a very strict "no stupid questions" policy. Because I'm an adult and I STILL have many stupid questions about this stuff.
I still remember the difference between a graduated cylinder and an Erlenmeyer flask, but nobody told me how to handle the legality of my dead dad's estate, or how to change the air filters in my car.
Art And EffortGiphy
Not putting grade on PE and art. I seriously think that you shouldn't get a grade on something you can't control. (Kind of but most of the time you can't control that) and art... well, I think it should be a class just for fun.
A Discipline Issue
Giving teachers real means to discipline kids. My wife is a teacher, and she is always saying that the badly behaved kids know there is nothing they can do, and they disrupt the class for everyone.
At least put the power back into the teachers hands, some at least. My wife did 20 years in education and you're correct. There's no real discipline. The first (and maybe biggest) issue is that parents will almost always believe their child over the teacher, and many times the administration will take the side of the parents.
I've heard countless examples of a kid disrupting class (which is something that affects the rest of the kids but admin doesn't care about that when trying to pump up those test scores) and there are significantly more questions toward the teacher as to why they didn't do this or that to prevent it as opposed to holding the student accountable.
Even things like getting sent to principle's office or in-school suspension are rare. I know those aren't optimal methods of discipline, but they used to be done more and they'd hold some weight.
Students with a history of violence should be separated from the general student population. Expelling a student should be easier and far simpler. It's unfair to the vast majority of students that troublemakers and bullies are allowed to remain among them. In the US, you quite literally have to maim someone to be removed from the system. We've utterly emasculated teachers, who are powerless to do anything.
When Are We Ever Going To Use This?
This might be small but:
Require all math classes to have practical sessions every once in a while, using situations and case studies from real jobs.
For instance, my school made us do a whole month of T-total coursework. We received no explanation of its purpose, so instead we were just told to focus on the T-Totals and slog through multiple formulas (which we had to invent and explain how and why). Turned us all off from T-Totals (and mathematics) and all of my classmates thought it was a waste of time.
It wasn't until I graduated when I (at 24) joked with my siblings of the 'T-totals' that we all had to do by 11th grade. Until my dad heard us, and told us that that was literally the formula traditionally used by Air Force pilots to keep track on the positions of planes.
So yeah, I'm absolutely certain that kids would be able to remember more of mathematics (and would be less afraid/apathetic of using math) if they have sessions where they'd have to pretend to be pilots doing T-totals, or scientists using standard deviation (or archaeologists/anthropologists measuring out a site for a dig). And then get guest talks from people who use mathematics for their jobs. It'd also enable military/universities from having to do classes re-teaching people how to do math.
Just Hold Hands
Improve sex Ed. Yesterday, we learned that instead of having sex we should hold hands, or write letters to each other.
My sister went to a religious school during grade 9 and they told her that if you have sex before marriage your junk will turn a funny colour and fall off. She laughed and called bull; and the teacher told he she was going to hell for saying that wasn't true.
When my middle school taught sex ed in grade 9, we learned about how plants have sex and reproduce. Not humans, plants.
After grade 7 I learned nothing regarding sex ed. All of my teachers would get awkward and not want to talk about sex ed with us, and if they did talk about it, it was the bare minimum and practically taught you nothing.
Once one of my teachers told us to not French kiss because you're saying it's ok to "enter your body" so it means that they'll take it as an invitation to enter your body in other ways.
This was around 2005/2006.
I can't even begin to unpack everything that is wrong with that statement.
The debt crisis in terms of university education is a significant issue, but I think a big help with that would be making it easier for people to apply for university later on in their careers. There's often the sense that you need to go to university at 18, when in fact taking a couple of years to work and decide whether university is right for you would be a big help for a lot of people.
It's less common now for people to stay in one career for their entire lives, and people being given the tools to find the job they want after getting a little life experience is not such a bad thing. The current situation, where if you don't decide what you want to do for the rest of your life at age eighteen you're destined to be a failure, doesn't really help anyone.
I watched so many friends flounder in college because they had no idea what they wanted to do but felt they had to go right out of high school. Watched a number of classmates fail out because they didn't take it seriously or because they ended up in classes they hated and a school they didn't really want to be at.
It took me six years between high school and college to sort of figure out what I wanted to do. A bit of a break is a good idea.
Dress code rules. Needs to be changed so much.
- All the crap about skirt/short/shirt length needs to go - especially when it's mainly directed at girls. I get there's a line to how much skin one can show but it's frustrating when it's summer and literally every single pair of shorts that doesn't look hideous is "too short"
- the fingertip rule for shorts... people have different arm lengths? I've been at both free dress and uniform schools and even the uniform shorts were shorter than my fingertips.
- I've heard stuff about not being able to show collarbones? like, really? I don't own a single shirt that wouldn't show my collarbone at all. I'd have to get a button-up and do every button up to the top....
- shoulders are understandable, especially for sun safe reasons, but regular t-shirts shouldn't have to go halfway down your forearm.
- no leggings etc - like seriously? they cover all the required areas, your fault for looking at my but and "being distracted"
Obviously stuff that would be offensive or show way too much skin is not allowed, but are you really going to stop a 13 year old girl from wearing regular old shorts and t-shirt?
also the fact that some schools give in-school suspension... like really? you're going to stop a kid from a whole day of classes because "leggings are too distracting"? something doesn't seem right here...
Raise teacher's salaries. At least where I live, they receive really low salaries when working for government schools. How are they supposed to have motivation to teach if they can barely live?
Improving the salaries might also increase the quality of teachers. Unfortunately, as of 2019, if you're an intelligent and motivated young adult, there isn't a ton of reason to go into teaching unless you have a high degree of passion for it. Even in college, you see this: education majors tend to be, on average, worse students compared to their peers.
I suppose this might be somewhat of a controversial opinion, but I'd rather have highly competent and passionate enough educators and than highly passionate but low-quality ones.