The Definition of Modern Day Schooling
‘Everyone is genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ — Albert Einstein
It is 1905 in France and a psychologist named Alfred Binet is developing a test of intelligence. The French Ministry of Education is waiting for this evaluation to be completed, then handed out to students to determine which of them were slow learners.
The test was introduced as the ‘Binet-Simon scale’. This seemingly minor event would set off a butterfly effect that would flap its way right into a brewing storm. A century later, the youth are still feeling the wind from its wings.
School is a daily routine for roughly 26% of the people in the world. 73.9 million of the students in the world live in America. They march into school in the early A.M., when their minds are still trying to shake away the melatonin. They trudge through the halls, each individual having different strengths and different needs. Then they sit in the order that has been given to them, nice and neat. They listen as an adult stands in front of them, and regurgitates information that brews in their head until they regift the knowledge to a bubbled-in question with a No.2 pencil. They exit the class that day leaving behind the answers for the policy makers to sweep up and recycle to the next year of static-brained children. We as a society are so numb to the educational malpractice that is constantly occurring that we don’t even realize how terrible this situation has become. Everything in our society has evolved; everything from cars and telephones to clothing and bedspreads. Through all of this, however one thing has never changed. Since 1837, ‘Modern Day Schooling’ has never changed, never progressed. The school system in use now was established around the idea of training citizens to work in factories. By the time a student turns eighteen, they have amassed 16,380 hours inside of a school, this number excludes homework and after school studies. That is 10.4 percent of their time alive.
What is ‘Modern Day Schooling’? Is it numbers and formulas, facts and figures? Is it a raised hand, a standard test and a learning plan? What does Modern Day Schooling mean, what is its use? Whatever it may be, there is one things that it is not; Education. Education isn’t a ‘One-size-fits-all’ mechanism. It isn’t shutting locked doors on a child and expecting them to be capable of opening it. Education is nurturing spirits and removing molds, letting each individual grow towards their own sun and thrive the way they need. Education isn’t telling children that even if they improved from a ‘D’ to a ‘B’ that they are less than a student who grew from a ‘B’ to an ‘A’. It isn’t ignoring a students own growth in favor of another’s percentages. Modern Day Schooling does not educate us, it does not nurture us, it does not love us in the way that it should. Modern Day Schooling shoves us onto a conveyor belt and packages us up, throwing anyone who is different into a factory defect pile. Students are expected to wake up before the sun realizes that it is morning, listen and be awake and then arrive home eight hours later, fatigued with extracurriculars with packets of homework weighing down their second hand backpack, thirty minutes before their nightly shift at work. Even still, the previous generations are somehow in shock when students are struggling with grades, are depressed and having panic attacks. The youth speak out about the crushing expectations and they are mocked, told their problems are invalid, that they are insignificant. They are told that others have had it worse— as if that holds relevance. If you were never allowed to feel upset because someone else has it worse, there would only be one person on earth who would have the right to feel their emotions. At the root of this problem is Modern Day Schooling, with it’s jail-like schedule, its homework and its grading hierarchy. We are preached to every day that schooling is important but then our minds are packed full of facts on George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Ernest Hemingway; None of which ever attended school. There should be no difference between school and education. They should come hand in hand but in fact in this country, they don’t even know each other. There is a great rift between them that is creating a deadly vortex disguised as success and glory that lures children in. Everyone we learn about in our classrooms, every human we idolize as children didn’t become who they were by tip-toeing into a history book. Each of them got there by shoving their way between the pages. In places like Finland and Singapore the words ‘Education’ and ‘School’ are joined at the hip. They have shorter school days, teachers have a decent salary, schoolwork doesn’t bleed into the students home life and children are taught collaboration and not competition. Their school system is constantly adapting to the world around it and improving so that students are given a space to grow and think creatively and critically, not just dependently. America’s schooling system tells us that there is no difference between being intelligent and scoring well, we place our self worth on a letter of the alphabet like we were a restaurant being inspected. We are told to be silent and to never speak out of turn even if we are never given a turn to begin with. I have been through three different schooling systems and there is one thing that I have learned at each and every one of them: Words are our greatest weapon— never shoot blanks.
So what is Modern Day Schooling? It’s a cult that creates bleary-eyed fish who have been climbing trees their whole life, never even seeing a puddle to swim in. It’s a doctor prescribing one medicine to 73.4 million people and being shocked when people start dying. Modern Day Schooling is a slow acting poison dripping through an IV that we placed there ourself. Modern Day Schooling is a serial killer and we are all accomplices. The youth has been given the world in our hands and we refuse to drop it.