In My Opinion
We Need Creative Outlets, Not More Hours, To Improve U.S. Education
The US is trying to figure out ways to improve the educational status of Americans and how it compares to other countries in the global market, so they decided that a solution would be to increase the amount of hours in which children attend school.
That sounds exactly like a company wanting to heighten productivity by increasing the amount of hours employees must work and possibly even reducing the amount of vacation days.
The only thing the company will end up with is overtired, overworked, non-focused, non-motivated staff and a crappy product. It seems that all the talk earlier this year, about how too much work is affecting productivity in the workplace didn’t really reach the ears of policy makers. Nor does the logic of how the same holds true for children, if not more so.
Kids don’t need more information, more tests and more confinement in schools, what they need are better teachers and a system that doesn’t see them as statistical data, but as individuals.
Of course, maybe I am too biased. Maybe I am relying too much on the fact that I have seen my children flourish more as individuals when we are doing things together during their free time from school or when they are traveling to new places. Their minds just open up and they become adventurous, inquisitive and excited about everything around them. There’s so much the schools would need to change to bring that into the classroom.
A mom friend of mine who was born and raised in Japan before moving to London and then the United States stated that in Japan the investment on education is in extra curricular activities. She admits that parents will hire tutors for their children, but the purpose is to find someone that will work with their child one-on-one and around their individual strengths and weaknesses, as opposed to forcing these in a larger, prolonged environment. She, like most people who disagree with the proposed increased school hours, doesn’t see how more money will lead to better education. “The effort has to be in attaining better teachers and a better curriculum.”
As much as we like to think we are a more “flexible” society than many Asian countries when it comes to education, truth is our system is not set up to nurture individuals as such, let alone their creative minds and original ideas – which is a shame because that is exactly what we need to compete globally. Math and science aren’t just about numbers and formulas. They require a sense of curiosity and creative thinking that pushes for further exploration and questioning.
Increasing the hours our children spend trapped in this environment isn’t what will help them succeed later on – that education is simply teaching the basic skills. The true lessons are learned outside of schools where innovation can be put into practice and observed, where they have freedom of expression and ideas. Until the American educational system develops better ways to encourage that, I don’t see them catching up to the success of countries such as Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, and others who have consistently ranked higher.
Schools in this country aren’t providing those skills to our children, teachers don’t have the time or energy to deal with a room full of inquiring minds, and very rarely do I encounter teachers who even know how. Forcing our kids to spend more time in a broken system has the potential to do the exact opposite of what is intended