Millions of students walk through the corridors of their school entrance every morning to get to classes. But not all individuals who walk through the gate have a same approach to learning and education. Some go to school just to get by, while others seek to mature intellectually and to gain something authentic from their school experience. What I have to noticed, however, is that there is a disproportionate amount of students who wish to genuinely learn and those who just want to fulfill the bare minimum.
This phenomenon can be partially attributed to the way most academic institutions foster individual's intellectual curiosity. Schools have a set of academic standards and rules that is not always compatible with students' way of learning and thinking. And at times, these academic requirements, such as standardized tests and projects which mold us into certain templates, take away our different and unique qualities that separate us from the rest.
The school curriculum offered by most public and private schools is left-brain oriented. Science, math and English are glorified while art, music and sports are undervalued. What proves this? Look at your school calendar, and try to recollect what classes were omitted on days with early dismissals. If that's not the case, you may realize that art class, for instance, is not exactly an "art class." Before you can get your hands on the canvas, the system requires you to do research and painstakingly analyze every detail on a notebook, rarely leaving time for you to freely experiment and explore your artistic talents and abilities.
The school system itself, which often tends to turn every individual into cookie cutter shapes, may be the reason why not all students are actively engaged in the learning process. There is a sense of lethargy that is developed in an academic environment. So what should schools do?
Unfortunately, I don't know the exact answer to the question, but there is one thing I'm more than certain of: all students are different, and not all students are left-brain oriented. Though it can be forced, students are not meant to be molded into a particular shape, because it robs their creativity and dreams. Everyone has different hobbies, interests and goals. Together, they create a diverse society, full of interesting people.
A successful school adopts a learning curriculum that can challenge and stimulate all sorts of students regardless of their differences. That's how students can really mature intellectually. Rote memorization of facts or concepts is not an ideal teaching style. Teaching students that there is one and only one answer to a question is not the "right" way of expanding their thinking capacity. Often reducing unnecessary workload to alleviate stressful academic environment can allow students to invest this extra time in hobbies or other activities that they might like. This way, students may feel that they are leading a balanced life, which is not only a key to success, but also a healthy lifestyle.
Left-brain oriented curriculum can work really well for certain groups of students, but it doesn't always work for everyone. So my point is, acknowledging that all students are different to begin with is the key factor to building a practical, yet successful, school curriculum.