Opinion: For the sake of learning

Bruno Beidacki is a sophomore journalism major. Contact him at [email protected]

Bruno Beidacki

Education needs a reform. The traditional methods of teaching and learning are not working anymore and we should be doing everything we can to maximize the quality of our educational process. We have to stop teaching our students that getting good grades is more important than acquiring knowledge.

For decades, the United States has been using the same conservative system to educate its population. If this system was producing amazing results, I would have no complaints. The problem is that it is not. Some of the most recent rankings have placed the U.S. in 14th out of 40 in education and 24th in literacy. For a country who constantly strives to be the best, the numbers are not impressing.

It’s common sense that education is important and solving its issues is obviously a lot more complex than we think. However, the first step to solving a problem is realizing there is one. And I am sorry to tell you, but American education is in trouble. The mistake being made? Education treats everyone as equals, just like Pink Floyd’s representation of it on their “Another Brick in the Wall” music video.

The first step is introducing alternative teaching methods to early childhood education. When understanding which way each kid learns the best, focus on that specific format. That will turn children into better learners who will be able to identify their passions, skills and interests at an earlier stage.

Second, high school students need more options and flexibility. Fundamentals are necessary and well-rounded citizens make it for a more efficient society, but core classes are taken too far. It makes no sense to force students to take certain classes and then expect us to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives by the time we graduate. High school should be about exploring potential career paths and the only way to do that is by providing experimental classes.

Finally, the focus in college has to shift from getting good grades to truly learning valuable information. If students are worried about their GPAs, we will not be able to fully acquire knowledge. In other words, memorization takes over and students do just enough to get a grade they are satisfied with.

In the ideal university students would feel encouraged to go to class because they want to learn, not because attendance is mandatory. When students are forced to show up, the feeling of obligation prevents a positive learning experience. The focus should be on creating a mutually beneficial environment, but that is impossible when students are not voluntarily there.

The final question that needs to be raised is: do students want to learn? In this environment, several do not. We are raised believing in the idea that if we get good grades, we will get a good job, and therefore live a good life. The motivations are success and money, when these should be the rewards from learning. Education cannot be about exam results, getting into grad school or becoming a millionaire. It should be about learning and becoming valuable members of society. Education needs a reform, for the sake of learning.

Bruno Beidacki is an opinion columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].