Stuff We Do Actually Learn in School

 

Reading the things I write, it might be hard to believe that I’m actually a huge advocate for education. That is, education done right. I believe everyone deserves an equal opportunity to go to school. I also believe that the education system as a whole is deeply flawed. Despite this, there are some useful skills we learn from school.

Schools help tremendously with a child’s social interaction. Students who are homeschooled do not get the same levels of interaction as students enrolled in traditional schools, unless they are involved in community activities or sports. Interaction is important for a child because it helps them understand themselves, the people around them, and society as a whole.

We learn to be responsible at school. We have deadlines, and people yelling at us if we don’t adhere to them. We have to learn to mange our own time and build our own schedules. This is a skill we will need for the rest of our lives.

School teaches us about failure and success. In one subject we might be the top of the class and in another we’re failing. In the subjects we’re good at, we tend to get a little arrogant and start slacking and eventually we get a bad grade and we’re devastated. We learn to pick ourselves up and start over, and to deal when things don’t go our way.

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Above all, we learn about how valuable it is for us to be different. No two of us are the same. We’re always growing and changing and learning from one another. We learn how we can all contribute something to solving a problem and that sometimes we work better in teams because we all think so differently.

The school system as a whole might be a little bit cracked and outdated, but being at school is truly an enlightening experience.

Politics?

The political world is kind of a mess right now. So much so that it’s hard to figure out what’s actually going on if you don’t spend every second of the day glued to the newspapers. As students, we don’t really have time to read newspapers all day, but it is critical for us to be updated.

We are the new generation. In a few years, we will be in positions of power, positions where we can make changes. How can we be expected to do that when we don’t even know what’s going on in the world?
Yes, politics is not the most interesting subject and few people are actually interested in it, but it’s a very important subject.
When students are educated about the way their governments run, they are more engaged. When young people understand the importance of voting and political alliances they are able to make informed decisions about what they feel is best for them.
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Governments that are supported by their people are governments that are successful. Governments with interactive bodies are governments that can maintain control over a well-functioning society.
Teaching students about the difference they can make politically is teaching students that they have a voice and the ability to make a change. When students feel they are able to get somewhere with something they’d like to do, they are excited to partake.
We cannot be expected to make decisions about who we want to run our countries when we are not educated about who runs our country. We cannot build a better, more successful society without knowing the grassroots.

Useless Skills

Ah, education. What a wonderfully important thing for young children to have. All those years spent in a classroom must be beneficial in some way, right? Of course there are some things that school teaches us that we use in everyday life. But then there are those things that nobody needs, ever.

Do you remember when you were I the third grade and for some reason you were learning to play the recorder? Did anyone actually learn how to play the recorder?

School curriculums fill our brains with useless information, like prime numbers and how to drop an egg off a roof without breaking it.

How much of what we learn in school is actually what we need for real life? I would say around 50-60%, including material from grades 1-12.

That means there is at least 50% of useless knowledge floating around my brain. Imagine how much more productive we could be as a society if we taught our students things they actually need to know to live a successful life.

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Who honestly needs to know how to make a paper snowflake? Who sits down at age 40 and says “oh, I wish I could remember the midpoint formula of a line”. Absolutely nobody, that’s who.

Almost everything is accessible online. Instead of forcing students to memorize a formula, focus on teaching them to apply it. Instead of teaching kids to follow a certain template of what a good student is, teach them that individuality is important and valuable.

The education system as a whole needs a makeover. Our generation needs to be the ones to do it.

Teach younger children a simpler, more efficient way to solve a problem. Let them do things in a way that may not seem ordinary to you. As long as the work gets done, who cares how it gets done?

Don’t break their spirits the way school seems to have broken ours.

 

Time Management

Students are busy, right? This is a universal truth. But complaining never does any good because we’re always met with comments like “time management is key!” or “you’re not kids anymore!”

Admittedly, I do have a problem with time management, and I know my classmates do as well.

This does not dismiss students’ claims that their workloads are too heavy, but I do agree that time management is important, not only in school but also once you enter the work force.

A few blog posts ago, I wrote about goals. Setting goals is essential to time management. It helps organize your thoughts and prioritize your tasks, which is possibly the best way to get things done. Less important things should always be left for last.

Organization helps prioritize as well. Personally, to-do lists work best for me. A new one every day is how I organize my tasks. Creating a weekly or monthly schedule could also help. Play around with a few different methods and find what works best for you. Let it be fun. The more ‘you’ it is, the more likely you are to enjoy paying attention to it.

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Just because you now have a schedule does not mean you have to follow it rigorously. Allow time to relax for a few minutes or be open to schedule changes. At the same time, be realistic. Don’t switch out studying for your SATs for decorating your bedroom, for instance.

Avoid procrastination. As the poster child for procrastination, this is quite difficult for me to admit: procrastination can only be detrimental in the long run. As we advance in life, our tasks need more attention and often take much more time to complete than our 7th grade English projects did. Procrastinating might’ve flown under the radar earlier on in life but it doesn’t anymore.

Overall, time management is deeply specific to each and every one of us. We all prioritize different things and so I can’t give you an exact outline to follow. Advice I can give is that life shouldn’t be all about work. Leave some room for play.