I think of myself as a fish, a fish that is forced to climb a tree.”Everyone 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.” said potentially the smartest man in history, Albert Einstein. This quote from Albert Einstein got me thinking about what I’ve been feeling in school just recently. I am so different from my classmates and I learn so differently than them. The United States’ school system focuses just on academic ability, but there are so many more gifts out there other than knowing the solution to a multiplication problem. Schools, in fact, need to find a solution to help all of the children out there today deprived of the knowledge they actually need.
Standardized tests are making children feel more judged than ever nowadays. On top of all the peer pressure in school, standardized tests put pressure on students to get into a certain class or get a certain score. School just focuses on academics and so does standardized testing. Students are getting judged on just one gift that they could have. Then, if they don’t get a good score at that one potential academic gift, they believe they’re stupid. Apparently, in society today, it doesn’t matter if you’re artistically gifted, good at dancing, or talented at music in schools. However, so many famous singers and actors dropped out of school or didn’t do well. Those include Drake, Nicole Kidman, and Robert Downey Jr. That supports the argument that schools should teach arts, dance, and music just as much as they should math and reading. Because there are so many gifts that people have, standardized tests should test it, but we know that can’t happen. it can’t be fair so why do we do standardized testing at all? If you really think about it, standardized testing and common core really don’t make sense.
Children are feeling stupid since what they’re good at isn’t being tested. Now children are deciding their future based on their test scores. Standardized tests don’t even do anything beneficial for the students. Their purpose is to see if the teachers are teaching the common core curriculum. If the students get good scores, the school gets more federal funding. I think that if the state wants so badly to know if the teachers are teaching the right things, they should go in and observe the teachers multiple times a year or make up every test and worksheet the students have to do. That system would not be pleasant, but instead of punishing the students with standardized testing, the state should make up more strict rules for teachers. For example, Michelle Obama says, “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn't be here. I guarantee you that.”
As I said before, every student is different and that’s why our government should not use common core as a requirement. Every single person on this Earth is different and has a different way of thinking. Every student also has a different way of learning. That’s why there shouldn’t be only one way that we, as very different students, have to know how to do something. For example, my amazing math teacher told me that I found different ways to do math problems and if I explain it in front of the class, they will get confused since they’re already learning one way to do it. I think students should be taught how to find different ways to solve any type of problem whether it’s in English class when you’re focusing on internal and external conflicts or you’re in math trying to figure out the answer to a negative times a positive. Figuring out different ways to solve problems can prepare students for the choices they will have to make in the future.
A teacher that is really dedicated to his/her job will understand any student and the way they have to learn. Teachers do learn different methods of teaching in college, but what they don’t learn is how to understand the way their students think. Some teachers might not know the pressure of being a child that’s behind or a child that’s ahead in a learning environment crafted around average students. A variety of students could learn from visualizing how to do something. Others could learn by doing things mentally other than writing their work on a piece of paper. Teachers need to understand that children are different. It is difficult, though, with so many children in a class, it’s hard to keep track of them all and their basic needs. That’s why I am thankful for my school’s gifted program and my wonderful teacher.
Both gifted and average students are affected by having to work with students from the other side of special education. “No child left behind” also hurts the autistic children, too, in the long run. All they do is copy off of the other students and don’t do any learning for themselves. When the teacher has to dedicate more time to the autistic students, the children that are trying to learn get deprived of the knowledge they’re supposed to be taking in. Doing partner work with those slower children is also overwhelming because you need to wait for them to write the answer down, you have to put the answers into words they understand, and lastly, you might not get your work done on time. I think they need to be in a class with students that learn at the same pace as them. Those autistic children can cause distractions in class and not get in trouble. When they are in gym class, some of them push and shove, but don’t get in trouble. In my opinion, if they're in the same class as me, they should get disciplined the same as me. I know it's not their fault that they do those things, but if people want them treated equally they should treat them the same even when it comes to discipline. I am not trying to cast the blame on them or insult them for being born the way they are. That is absolutely not my intention of this argument. I think it's amazing that in my school, we can help those students and interact with them. We should learn to accept them, get along with them, and be kind to them.
Dress codes also play a major role in the corruption of modern schooling. School is about learning and most students go there to learn. Students, specifically girls, don’t go to school to put their arms down, measure how long their shorts are, and see if they’re allowed to wear them. Girls don’t go to school to get measured or embarrassed because their shorts are too short.
One day, I dressed up for a special occasion at school. The skirt that I was wearing was long enough for the school dress code, but it was tight and right on the border of being too short. I was sitting down and naturally my skirt slid up. A teacher came up to me, smiled at me, said she liked my skirt, but I had to go to the nurse to change my skirt. Then another teacher came up to me and said the same exact thing as the other teacher did so once again I had to prove that my skirt was long enough by standing up. Then, all throughout the day, I got comments and strange looks from teachers implying or blatantly telling me to pull my skirt down. What I noticed is that all the teachers or staff members telling me to pull my skirt down were female. So the question I asked myself was, “Does that mean that the most sexist people in schooling are females, some that might even identify with feminism?” In schools today, we need to take action against the sexist dress code that is targeted towards girls. I agree that girls should not come to school wearing belly shirts or very short shorts, but we should have the freedom to wear what we want as long as it is not too inappropriate.
Girls are also not allowed to wear clothes that they like because the boys might get “distracted.” Schools are now saying that girls cannot show their collarbones because they’re too revealing. I don’t think any boy, or at least the ones I know, in their right mind would get “distracted” by collarbones. We cannot teach girls that they have to be modest to accommodate a boy’s needs and we cannot teach boys that they are more important than girls or that girls should abide by their rules. If a boy is getting distracted by any of a girl’s body parts, he needs help. It is the boy’s problem if he gets distracted in class and he needs to be punished. Girls should be taught to embrace their beautiful bodies, not hide them, especially for the sake of men.
Clothes are also a way students can express themselves. Students are permitted to express themselves through art, music, or writing and expressing yourself through clothing should be treated the same as expressing yourself through art, writing, or music. For example, my school doesn’t allow you to wear hats because they might be distracting to other students or the one wearing the hat. That rule, I think, is very unnecessary because if the hat becomes a problem, the teacher could talk to the student and discipline them for his/her poor behaviors. As for the other student that gets distracted by the hat that another classmate is wearing, that is their problem not the student that is wearing it. Just as we need to take action against sexism in modern schooling, we need to take action against these ridiculous, maybe even a bit irrational dress codes.
I also believe teachers and staff members should be more helpful to and educated about children with mental illnesses. My reasoning for this is that one of my teachers told a classmate with ADHD, “Well, you need to get past that and pay attention.” In my opinion, it is pathetic for a grown adult to say that to a student, especially one with ADHD. even this one occurrence can prove that teachers need to learn more about students with mental illnesses and learn how to deal with them. I have had some experiences with this same teacher mistreating me as I am struggling with a mental illness myself. I have anxiety and it affects my attitude as well as my physical state. One day I was not feeling well at all and in the beginning of the day i was asked to write something on the whiteboard. I took a while to get up because I was weak in my knees, but my teacher thought it was because of my attitude. Later in that class, I leaned on my friends shoulder because i was overheated. Then my teacher and I conversed like so:
Teacher: Bethany, are you done yet?
Teacher (in an annoyed tone): I don’t think this new seating arrangement is going to work out.
I was very upset at that comment because she just didn’t understand what I was feeling. Then, when the class was leaving we had another conversation that went like this:
Teacher: Did you turn in your rough draft to me?
Me: No I forgot. (Then I proceed to walk to my desk to get my paper out. By this time, it is only my teacher and me in the classroom)
Teacher: I really don’t like your attitude today.
Me (mumbling): Sorry.
Teacher: I don’t like how you’re walking around like you’re better than everyone else like the rules don’t apply to you.
That comment affected me greatly, I was on the verge of crying, my stomach was aching, and I was hyperventilating. Then, I went to the guidance counselor and told him that I felt like that teacher didn’t care. He said she did since she said she noticed an “attitude change” and that I wasn’t acting like myself lately. If she noticed that, she should’ve noticed that I was not feeling well.
Schools today have so many issues and things they need to work on. I believe that we can make our voices heard to our teachers, classmates, principals, and lawmakers. So after you are done reading this, I challenge you to write about some changes you would like to see in our modern schooling today.