I have a problem with school and it is not just forcing myself out of bed every morning to go and sit through six hours of boringness. It's not that I have to get ready just to see people whom I'm not too fond of and it's also not fighting my way through the hallways like it's The Hunger Games between every class. My problem with school is that you're evaluated solely based on your weaknesses instead of your strengths. Albert Einstein said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." When I first read this quote, I was taken aback; it summed up my school experience so perfectly. Teachers aren't entirely evil, but it seems as if it is their job to show their students that we don't understand course material. Why is that?
Think about a test you recently wrote, do you feel as if your knowledge of the subject matter was properly conveyed to your teacher? I feel as if our schools are designed to highlight our weaknesses instead of what we, as students, excel at. Have you ever had an assignment that you know you just won't excel at? For example, many teachers will assign skits that you must present in front of the class. Many students may not feel comfortable showcasing their dramatic skills, or lack thereof, in front of the whole class. On the other hand, many budding performers may feel like this is their time to shine. So how can our schools help highlight student's strengths instead of solely showcasing our weaknesses? More and more teachers are giving students options for assignments, tests and other evaluation material.
For example, your major project is assigned but instead of the teacher telling you what exactly you have to do, you can chose from a list of options; perhaps you could perform a skit, write a report, or showcase your awesome graphic design skills. This way you can show what you're good at instead of accentuating what you may find difficult. As students, it is impossible to retain 100 percent of the course material. Instead, we have to decide what we feel is most important for us to learn in the long-run. Wouldn't it make sense for teachers to give students options so they can highlight what they know instead of emphasizing what they don't? Instead of giving three questions on a test, teachers should give more questions with a wider variety of topics so students have the opportunity to show what they know instead of simply regurgitating information.
The case of an Ontario school board abolishing the two level streams for math class is a perfect example of our school system hindering students' success. The Limestone school board announced last month that they will only offer academic math class to grade nine students. Currently, in the province of Ontario, students can chose an "academic" or "applied" stream for math class. Despite the stigma attached to both, the streams do not define your academic ability or intelligence; they are simply designed to help craft curriculum to what students need further on in life. For example, a student wishing to pursue a career as a mechanic may find the applied stream more helpful, whereas a student wishing to become an engineer may find the academic stream more useful. The school board's decision to force grade nine students to take the 'higher level' stream of math is, in my opinion, ridiculous.
As students, it is our responsibility to push for a better way to emphasize our successes rather than highlighting our own faults. Wouldn't school be that much easier to go to every day if it we could show what know instead of showing what we don't know? It's for us time to shine.
What do you think about this? Do you feel like your knowledge is accurately portrayed through tests and assignments? Tweet me: @PatrickMott.