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    Thread: What's an ideal education system?

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      What's an ideal education system?

      If you could make draconian changes to the education system, how would you run it? Would it be compulsory? How much would it cost and who would pay for it? What kind of standards and requirements would you include and how would these standards be measured? Feel free to answer any or all questions related to your utopian vision of education, tangents are welcome.

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      Last edited by melanieb; 02-16-2013 at 05:24 AM.

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      Most importantly, I think the best education is the one that teaches to constantly question everything. Classes should be structured around making the world a better place in every sense, what it means to be a global citizen, understanding ideologies and the misunderstandings that result from them. Students should be taught to listen to their own bodies, minds, and spirits by meditating. They should also be taught to always remember they are all one people, regardless of race, gender, orientation, nationality, income, or any other barrier. They should be taught to be true patriots and to always believe improvement is possible. Their classes would be more like forums, with knowledgeable/wise moderators and many actively thinking individuals communicating in open discussion. They should be encouraged to think outside the box more than inside, to create entire new schools of thought and fields of study. and their software would all be free and open source!
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      Well, let's see. First of all, it would be definitely be compulsory. Although I like the thought of inquiring young minds yearning to learn and striving to do well in their studies, experience tells me that most children, if given the option, would rather stay home and play than go to school. Most, if not all of them would surely regret such a decision in later life. So in that case, I think it's best to keep it non-optional, for their own sake. Secondly, it would be funded by the taxpayer, since I see no other viable option. The idea of some business interests or anything of the like funding a nation's education system is a little unnerving. I don't know how much it would cost, but it would be a sizable amount of the annual government budget. Certainly one of the biggest priorities in public spending.

      As far as standards go, literacy and numeracy would probably be most important. Every pupil must be able to read, write and count as a bare minimum. These are the most basic requirements for any person living in a modern society. They're practically essential if you want to get by in the world, and so even a single child leaving school without these capabilities is simply unacceptable. There would be some focus on a practical, utilitarian education, in order to help children adjust and function well in society as they enter their adult years. But most of the curriculum would be learning for learning's sake, with pupils being exposed to a wide range of subjects, such as science, history, philosophy, art, etc. They should also have some control over their own class schedules, so they get to spend a little more time exploring the stuff that really interests them. Of course, critical thinking and freedom of thought would be encouraged early on, to enable them to question what they're being taught until they truly understand it. The best way I can think of objectively measuring progress would be through exams. Although, they would be structured quite differently, with an emphasis on the genuine understanding of the subject and not just a memorisation of paragraphs from an old textbook.

      If I'm allowed to get a little fantastical and futuristic here, I'd love to see some kind of virtual reality introduced as a method of teaching, when it eventually comes about. Just imagine if you were able to enter a virtual world and experience any environment, meet any person, and do anything. You could witness historical events first hand, explore the stars, or talk one on one with Albert Einstein. You can choose your teacher, the scene of the lesson and the topic you wish to learn. You are the master of your own intellectual journey. No longer do you have to sit in a stuffy classroom and listen to some boring old fart drone on about stuff that doesn't interest you. Each lesson is an amazing adventure that leaves you invigorated, enlightened and begging for more. Such a method would revolutionise the education system beyond recognition.

      So yeah... that would be cool.
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      Some educational lady (who was not very educated) was on the Daily Show monday talking about all this crap and I just face palmed at both their ignorance of how education works. It was mostly to do with improving public schools vs making charter schools available. Neither one seemed to understand that children do not all learn the same. It's definitely important to make public schools as excellent as possible, but voucher programs and charters provide the competitive incentive necessary for public schools to use their funding as wisely as possible and improve their school. Both will improve through competition, public schools do not need to be a net to catch all the people who can't get into the private/charter schools. But not every child learns the same way, and this is the experience I had in high school which is why I'm happy that my school district had alternative schools available. For the majority of students, public school works just fine. For a minority of students, being round pegs stuffed into square holes and then told they have a learning disability when they don't fit will cause them to give up on learning altogether and drop out, get into drugs, etc.

      Not only that but think of how much modern infrastructure and invention got its start at a theme park? Theme parks provide a testing ground for ideas before they're implemented into society at large. In the same way, smaller test schools can be used to test new teaching styles and see how effective they are.

      I could go on and on and on, I'm probably more opinionated about education than anything else, but I'll hold off for now.

      Heavy Sleeper: I do believe children have an intrinsic excitement to learn, but I also think schools kill this excitement as early as kindergarden and build resentment from then on. If we want children to actively seek an education we'd have to dramatically change the classroom setting. Your virtual reality idea is cool, but I'm more on nightlighter's side. I think it's the sophist style of education that initially kills their desire to learn and go to school. I think playing and learning could be more easily combined if children were captains of their own education rather than dogmatically taught what is.
      Last edited by Original Poster; 02-06-2013 at 09:39 PM.
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      Yes, I also believe that children have an inbuilt desire to learn and it is the dull, boring classroom setting that spoils it. The teachers are none too inspiring either, in my opinion. Most have a lazy, "Just read from your textbooks and copy them out" attitude which totally fails to show the true appeal of the subject. They take some of the most fascinating areas of human knowledge and manage to make them appear dismal and uninteresting.

      As for the children having more control over their own education, I agree that would be a good thing. Like I said in my last post, I believe they should be allowed to focus more on the subjects that especially intrigue them. When it comes to the whole open discussion thing, I can see it being very beneficial, but only if it works alongside some sort of curriculum. For instance, it would be wise to allow an atmosphere of discussion and debate when it comes to fields like philosophy and art, but I don't see it working so well in subjects like maths, history or science. If the children are simply inquiring about the information they're being given in order to improve their understanding of it, that's all well and good. But there are areas where they wouldn't be able to discover something for themselves and would simply have to be taught. Literacy and numeracy are good examples, which I also mentioned in my last post. I don't see this as being a dogmatic enforcement of commonly held beliefs, but as a mere sharing of facts. Although schools do serve to encourage an expression of thought within their pupils, they also have an important obligation to pass on vital knowledge to the next generation.
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      I think there's an assumption that children will miss vital information if they're put in charge of their education completely. I don't know for certain if this is true or not, but I'd like to see more experimental schools put this assumption to the test. I, for one, was impeded by school more than anything, and I learn much more when I'm not in school. I concede that I don't spend much of my free time learning calculus. In fact the only time I ever learned math on my own was when I had a goal of learning programing because I wanted to make video games.

      As far as history and science goes though, I learned a lot more without school. School repeated the same basic points over and over. In the US there are three different years of school focused on the revolution between elementary school and graduation. And then one is often forced to take it again in college. Each time, it goes more in depth. But it wasn't until college I even learned the first thing about what happened between the civil war and the modern day, as far as school is concerned. If I had been given charge of my own studies, I can guarantee you I'd still have learned everything about the revolution that I currently know, and I'd also have a more complete understanding of history in general. Because I want to how everything got to be the way it is now. I was never taught anything about the last century of history in school and yet I swallowed up every morsel of it. Science is the same way. I don't need a curriculum to learn everything in the curriculum, because most of that material is in the curriculum because it's so vital, and because it's so vital to understanding the world, I naturally want to understand it anyways.

      Back to the math thing, because I understand I may be an exception to the rule, or at the very least that such an argument could be made. I learned advanced math outside of school only because I had a practical reason to learn it, and I did not care for it for it's own sake. I think that, far more necessary than making learning fun, is giving the students incentive to gain the knowledge. Giving them the light at the end of the tunnel so they know what this knowledge would serve. Give them goals, and if they truly desire those goals, they will learn everything necessary to achieve them.
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      Watching the "Cosmos" series would be mandatory.
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      Yes, I've long thought it to be vitally important that schools emphasize to their students the point of their education. When I was attending school, the teachers never spent much time explaining to us the benefits of our attendance. Of course they told us it was imperative that we show up and take our classes, but they wouldn't really go into why we should be there. This certainly isn't the only problem schools have when it comes to motivating their students, but I feel it is one of the main killers of a child's innate curiosity. People are being forced to surrender a significant chunk of their childhood to do something they've been given no clear incentive to do. They accept it because it's the norm, whilst at the same time, they detest it for stealing so much precious time away from them.

      If only the teachers would take some time to convey the beauty in what they teach, the romance of endlessly pursuing knowledge and seeking to have a greater understanding of the universe we inhabit (Wayfaerer's Cosmos idea would be very helpful here). Simply expressing this point would give children a decent reason for working hard and hopefully inspire them to learn as much as they can about the world. Encouraging them to have goals and to strive to achieve those goals, I agree would be of great benefit.

      On the point about school curricula, I hope I didn't give the impression that I support the systems currently in place. Although I think some kind of scheduled framework is necessary if some essential parts of a given subject are to be covered, I would prefer to see a great deal more flexibility adopted. Teaching medieval history for a few weeks before moving swiftly on to the Roman empire isn't exactly what I would call a thorough exposition of the topic. The constant repetition of a specific topic isn't such a smart idea either. The fault of these systems, I would say, are mostly down to bad structuring and a strict adherence to deadlines. Teachers feel they need to rush through this stuff and quickly get it out of the way for upcoming holidays or tests, etc. Or in cases like you've mentioned, they feel a particular area of the course is so important that they keep coming back to it, in order to really drill it in to your memory.

      I think a far more fluid approach when it comes to schedule would be a good thing, with the students giving their input on the layout. If they're learning about something they particularly enjoy and are starting to really get into it, they shouldn't be rudely moved on to the next, totally unrelated subject. They should be allowed to continue exploring the things that interest them until they're good and ready to move on. I don't know how far you could push that though, considering there are specific deadlines that they'd be required to meet. We can't have a situation where an imminent exam has a third of its makeup based on World War 2, when the students have been studying the Romans solely for the past few months. Maybe having preliminary tests focusing exclusively on the given topic once the students have finished studying it, whilst pushing the final, general exam back to the end of the year?

      You make a good point about gaining knowledge beyond school. Learning doesn't just take place in the classroom, and if you're really intent on pursuing something, you'll find all the information you need out there in the world. We live in a time when almost everyone has virtually unlimited access to information. So if you don't get it in school, you can find it elsewhere. But I think schools have a role to play in introducing children to these things. Present it to them, let them know it's there and if they like it, encourage them to go for it. It could lead to a career or a lifelong hobby, which would be a great thing.

      Jesus, I really did ramble on here.
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      Yeah I'm not saying the internet has made schools irrelevant. But I learned more at a school that assigned no obligatory homework and allowed you to select your own assignments in order to get the credits to graduate. The reason being, as I mentioned earlier, the curriculum (in the US at least) focuses on a lot of unnecessary repetition. It's almost more indoctrination than actually teaching. I don't mean to come off like a crazy person ranting about brainwashing, but they glorified george ashington and blah-de-blah like 3 fucking years, and it would have been 4 if I didn't change schools. In 5th grade we have to learn the states and their capitals. I transferred schools during 5th grade (not to the alternative highschool, that happened 10th grade) and in my previous school the states/capitals lesson was early in the year, and in the school I transferred to it was just beginning. I asked my teacher if I could opt out because I already had to do that and she told me if I could pass the test, then I could. But I couldn't because it'd been a few months and I fucking forgot. So I had to learn it all over again, and you know what? Come a year later, I fucking forgot again anyways. Yeah, certain lessons are vital to a good education but some of the shit in my standard curriculum is fucking useless.

      I'm not trying to dogmatically postulate that children will learn everything they need to know without a curriculum, but I don't necessarily think they won't, either, and I'd like to see more experimental schools (like my alt. highschool) put to the test the possibility that children will learn more if they're given both the incentive (by knowing the point of their education) as well as the command over the education they get. Maybe some people will, god forbid, graduate high school without ever grasping algebra. If they're really so disinterested, they're probably disinterested in a career as an engineer (or anything algebra related) anyways. They certainly may discover that interest later in life and regret not learning it sooner, but I think that's where incentive comes into play. I'd like to see curriculum switch from what they have to be taught to what subjects they have to be exposed to so they could discover earlier on in life if they might like engineering or something math related, and if they do they'll want to pursue the necessary studies for it. Maybe.
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      I think for the most part, we're in complete agreement. We both see many children being seriously let down by the current system of curricula they're forced to endure. There's also a recognition that a far greater degree of engagement and control from the students is needed in order to better the system. Schools can offer a great foundation on which children can build throughout the rest of their lives. As long as they're exposed to a wide array of subjects early on and can take something out of it, it gives them a good starting point from which to head in future.

      I only differ with you on the point of students having complete control over their education because I struggle to imagine how it would look. It could well be that such an approach leads to pupils receiving the broad and varied education we want to see, whilst also ensuring that the vital knowledge they need is passed on to them. Since we don't have much to go on, the kind of experimental schools you suggest may well be required if we're to make any headway on the issue.
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      Teenagers have committed suicide because they were lonely and other teenagers have murdered point blank because they were lonely. Seriously, whats wrong with us? If we can't teach kids how to have friends then whats the point of education? Is math really more important than that? Let's ask them.

      Maybe some things really are impossible to teach, but outside of math, science and the arts, we should also be learning about our own humanity and our human needs.

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      Quote Originally Posted by juroara View Post
      Teenagers have committed suicide because they were lonely and other teenagers have murdered point blank because they were lonely. Seriously, whats wrong with us? If we can't teach kids how to have friends then whats the point of education? Is math really more important than that? Let's ask them.
      perhaps kids should also be taught that its okay to be alone. that you don't need to constantly depend on others for your happiness.
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      Quote Originally Posted by juroara View Post
      Teenagers have committed suicide because they were lonely and other teenagers have murdered point blank because they were lonely. Seriously, whats wrong with us? If we can't teach kids how to have friends then whats the point of education? Is math really more important than that? Let's ask them.

      Maybe some things really are impossible to teach, but outside of math, science and the arts, we should also be learning about our own humanity and our human needs.
      Absolutely. To borrow the cliche, children must first be taught how think, and second taught what to think. Unfortunately, society doesn't quite have a grasp on what to think yet. While we are still being fed regurgitated, emotionally uplifting bait, how can we teach our children any different? First, the integrity of philosophy must reemerge in society. Second, it can emerge in schools. Yes, schools are a constant reminder of the sickness infecting society, but does grown-up society show any change? The heart of this issue, and all other social issues, is that we people must change our fucking beliefs from us vs them to us.
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      It also requires a good healthy society. A decadent society no longer educates the kids properly.

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      A review of the curriculum is definitely the first step, but the review should not be a solely government intervention, instead head teachers should be consulted and research should be consulted as to the best changes to make.

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      i certainly disagree with many of rousseau's views on education but there was a passage of émile that greatly resonated with me. a father and son are flying kites; and the child is able to accurately infer the position of the kite in the sky from its shadow, despite never having been specifically taught how to do this. the idea here is that the child's education has provided him with a foundation of logic and reason which he is able to build upon to form a complete understanding of the world.

      so we must ask ourselves what this foundation of logic and reason is, and how it can be cultivated. literacy and numeracy, obviously, are crucial elements. i take issue with the the way these are taught in north american public schools: i.e. by unqualified teachers, very slowly, by rote, and compartmentalized into separate modules.

      in an ideal educational system, all primary school teachers (excluding kindergarten teachers, i suppose) would have at least a bachelor's degree in whatever they wish to teach. so there would be a few teachers with math degrees who taught all the math classes from grades 1-8; a few english teachers; a few science teachers, etc. the reasoning behind this is that they would have a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the subject & thus would be able to present it in varied ways so children can come to comprehend the material, its applications, and its relations to other disciplines. you won't get that from some lady whose highest level of mathematical education is grade 10 algebra.

      the current education system (probably as a result of the lack of qualified teachers) greatly underestimates the average child's potential intelligence and their capacity for learning -- effectively stunting the intellectual growth of vast swathes of society. a child's mind needs to be challenged to develop... you cannot spend five or six years teaching children to add&subtract and construct simple sentences, as north american public schools do... i firmly believe that by the age of 8 the average child is capable of mastering all areas of basic arithmetic (including proportions, fractions, etc), comprehending the sort of literature that's generally taught to children around the ages of 12-13 (comprehending as in understanding what the plot is, what the sentences mean -- i don't expect young children would have the life experience and emotional intelligence needed to analyze literature on a deeper level but they are certainly able to parse it) and writing well-constructed paragraphs with correct spelling and grammar. i consider the deplorable standards of public education on this continent child abuse, pure and simple. a child who is raised in an orphanage and offered little human contact grows up to be emotionally crippled. a child raised in public school and given no opportunities to exercise their intelligence grows up to be intellectually crippled.

      there is a particular philosophy that our education system slavishly adheres to in the teaching of the fundamental subjects (especially literacy), that they should be analyzed and broken down into as many component parts as possible and then the child should be taught these components one at a time. i suppose the reasoning here is that it makes things easier to understand. but it encourages a fractured view of the subject rather than a view of the subject as an integrated whole, such as is necessary for what i believe to be proper understanding. to speak more concretely i believe that children should not necessarily be taught e.g. reading, spelling, basic writing structure & rhetoric separately but be given examples of good writing which are appropriate to their age and then taught to model their work upon this. it is the student who should accomplish the analysis because it is from analysis that understanding is born.

      those are my main complaints with education as it stands today. of course it is impossible to address issues with education without also addressing issues with society. of which there are many. the school system we have today does not accomplish the original goal of education which was to set man free from the constraints of society with knowledge. rather it aims to turn out labourers and civil servants to serve the purposes of the oligarchy. social stratification affects access to quality education and further disenfranchises the lower classes. there are more. but these issues are entrenched in the foundation of our culture and near impossible to challenge. for now, we should focus on what we can change. and i firmly believe that we can make great improvements to our educational system -- and thus, our society and our lives.

      sorry for being long-winded and digressive -- that's how i tend to express my thoughts.
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      See The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich (Can be found at tpb). The federal government of the US had his books burned in the 1950s. He died in prison for his noble contributions to humanity through science. Attempted to scientifically study "Chi/Prana" energy which he called "Orgone." Used his research findings to treat cancer and other problems. He was a student of Freud and was a big influence on modern Psychotherapy. An informative documentary can be found at the internet archive called "Man's Right To Know." His story is a good example of how many education systems work - A man comes to town with a revolutionary idea and is slandered and ridiculed by mainstream academia. So much that people often, sadly, believe these socially indespensable people to be insane. They did the same to Tesla and many other true independent thinkers. The point is this: Modern education often destroys creative, independent thinking where it ought to be cultivated. (R)evolutionary thinkers are mentally caged and suppressed by a ruthless, ignoble regime of industrial business. True education is a liberation by knowledge, not mental enslavement.

      "None but ourselves can free our minds." -Robert Nesta Marley
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      I think kids and teenagers in school should have better more free outlets of expression. School mostly felt like prison to me. They lock you in. Guard it with security guards and even cops. Tell when to eat, when to go where. Can take you aside and search and harass you at any time. All these kids pent up with anger and sexual frustration. Also why don't they teach people more useful things that they are bound to need to learn anyway. I always hated school.

      I think our education system is made to create good workers. People who are good at being told what to do. Rather than how to think for themselves. Normally they tell you what to think rather than what you think about it.
      Last edited by saltyseedog; 04-09-2013 at 09:21 AM.
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      First of all it wouldn't be completely compulsory, anyone who can undenyingly prove that he does not need school anymore, also won't be forced to go. That of course takes a lot of planning to do properly, and if I'd make a school system I'd carve out all details and would take my time, however I would also try to stay flexible.

      Second of all I would take an different approach to teaching. My primary target would be to teach people how to learn and teach oneself. From there on pupils would be motivated to get interested in certain topics and learn by themselves, with support instead of force from teachers. Instead of a mass of teachers schools would be supposed to focus on "producing" elite teachers, persons who can do more than just stand in front of a class like ordered and forgotten (something that is pretty common however). If I want someone to tell me something boring in a monotone voice I will never need, I can use various CDs or whatever but I don't need a teacher for that. Teachers should have a connection with their pupils and they should make learning fun so people would do it themselves without any much pressure.
      Also basic logic would be something you'd find as a class in my schools, since I see the effects of missing logic every single day.

      It's not typically for me to say that, but I'm absolutely certain that would work indefinitely better than how germany currently handles it's education which is mildly said a cataclysm of stupidity. I think I should be able to tell better than most people, I visited 8 (!) schools and I've pretty much seen any possible type of school here, so I've also seen many examples for what works and what doesn't. I've also seen dozens of example how the way teachers deal with pupil affected the learning abilities, which is a big factor.
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      Encouraging and supporting independent ambitions among the many areas of potential improvement in human knowledge and applications would be most ideal imo.

    21. #21
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      I think that the most ideal, dreamlike education system would teach the children all theories, and all possibilities, and even explore logic itself, and the unknown.

      I do not believe such a system is possible, at this time.
      ---o--- my DCs say I'm dreamy.

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      Well, I think that's because teaching can only go so far. All we could really do to achieve something close to that is to try to get students to want to explore theory and applications for themselves. It's a bit unrealistic to try to get teachers to be at the forefront of every area of study, even in one subject.
      Last edited by Wayfaerer; 04-17-2013 at 05:51 AM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by saltyseedog View Post
      I think kids and teenagers in school should have better more free outlets of expression. School mostly felt like prison to me. They lock you in. Guard it with security guards and even cops. Tell when to eat, when to go where. Can take you aside and search and harass you at any time. All these kids pent up with anger and sexual frustration. Also why don't they teach people more useful things that they are bound to need to learn anyway. I always hated school.

      I think our education system is made to create good workers. People who are good at being told what to do. Rather than how to think for themselves. Normally they tell you what to think rather than what you think about it.
      To me it seems like schools say "You don't need to know how to have a happy, loving family/marriage, how to apply for a job, how to be more responsible with money, how to do whatever you really want to do with your life, and how to think logically for yourself, you need to know our biased opinion on why America is awesome, Muslims are evil, and how to solve 388429.387919562x-(3y4x7)^4n5/73926.2015720 x 680/6749.407y when x=2749271.9274926590. If you don't agree with us and do everything we say, we'll lock you in here for another 2 hours for having an opinion."

      At least that's how it is at my school. We get a detention for wearing a hat, headband, or certain colors, because apparently they're "gang signs" . They're even trying to tell us we can't wear sweatshirts or jackets, even when it's 10 degrees and there's no heat and water is leaking from the ceilings because they had to build a third gym and a fancy football field instead. Preparing us for working in factories?
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      I have a lot of issues with the American education system ... I think what bothers me most is the heavy dependence on tests and grades. First of all, I really hate standardized testing. I understand wanting to make sure that schools are keeping up-to-date on their material, but it puts so much pressure on kids to do well, and all kids learn differently and test-taking isn't everyone's strength. I think the first time I had to take a state standardized test I was like 8 or 9 years old, and we had to take them every year up until I was 16. And then there's the SAT ... don't even get me started.

      I just have problems with tests in general. I think they condition kids to cram information into their brains to prepare for a test, and then they forget most of it after the test is over. And I feel that grades contribute to the problem; kids study so that they can get a good grade, not necessarily so that they can gain knowledge on a subject. And mind you, I'm not saying I'm an exception. Throughout middle school and high school, I definitely crammed a lot for tests and I only learned things because I was "supposed" to and not because I wanted to.

      I now go to a college that has neither tests nor grades. Instead, the curriculum consists of very discussion-based classes, and requires students to do thorough research and creative projects on our own. I've found that because of that, I've become a much more self-motivated student, I care much more about what I learn (and I absorb it much better), and I feel much more accomplished when I've finished a big project than when I used to take tests. Perhaps tests and grades motivate some students, but not all ... and I really wish I'd had an option like this back in middle and high school. It's made me much more passionate about school and learning.
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      “I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?” ~ Chuang Tzu

      "This is my dream. I'll decide where it goes from here." ~ Alice in Wonderland

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      Quote Originally Posted by Brigid View Post
      I now go to a college that has neither tests nor grades. Instead, the curriculum consists of very discussion-based classes, and requires students to do thorough research and creative projects on our own. I've found that because of that, I've become a much more self-motivated student, I care much more about what I learn (and I absorb it much better), and I feel much more accomplished when I've finished a big project than when I used to take tests. Perhaps tests and grades motivate some students, but not all ... and I really wish I'd had an option like this back in middle and high school. It's made me much more passionate about school and learning.
      Where is this college? That sounds great!

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